Urban Planning

Public-private partnership transforms Lapa into a greener haven

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The first tree is already there, ready to see the growth of many others, until the creation of 17 thousand square meters that will make the future Parque Urbano da Lapa a new lung for a greener Porto. The building of the space is the result of a partnership between the Municipality and Mercan Properties and will be ready in time for the Summer.

There is little memory of what the mayor called the “black hole”. It started with the building of the hotel, then the refurbishment of the streets Cervantes and Alves Redol. Now, it is time to paint the area green, in response to the “integrated development” desired by the population for that area of Lapa.

“These are the partnerships that allow cities to evolve and grow”, considers Rui Moreira, regarding what was agreed with Mercan Properties: the hotel group which bought the land and committed to building 1,7 ha of urban park, a space for people’s enjoyment and quality of life. In addition to its environmental mission – enhanced with the creation of a water retention basin – the location, and the hotel itself, want to be centres of attraction for more services, more housing and “high quality tourism”, improving the proximity and giving space for leisure in a very “dense area of the city”, the “last area in the city centre where a park could be built”. “There are no more spaces like this, with this dimension”, recognizes Rui Moreira.

Transfer of lands to the public domain exempts from the compensation fee

At the symbolic moment of laying down the “first stones” of the Parque Urbano da Lapa, the mayor assured that “the counterpart was to allow the building of the hotel, thus taking advantage of something non-existent”. “This is a joint effort, only possible through public-private partnerships”, believes Rui Moreira.

The councillor for Urban Planning and Public Space explained that, in the agreement with Mercan Properties, “there was no exemption from the payment of fees, a normal process, foreseen in the Plano Diretor Municipal, of transfer of land, within the scope of an urban operation”.

“If there was free land, there was the opportunity to incorporate this land into the municipal domain and not replace this transfer with a payment of a fee [for issuing a utilization permit]”, which would be more than one million euros, says Pedro Baganha. The hotel group’s investment in Parque Urbano da Lapa is around three million euros (in addition to the one million already invested in the refurbishment of the streets).

Renovation, environment, and haven

For the president of Mercan Properties, this project “shows how the collaboration between the public and private sectors can be fruitful for the community” and reflects “our common vision of a greener Porto”.

However, he adds, “the Parque Urbano da Lapa is a symbol of renewal and optimism. Located in the heart of Porto, it not only embellishes the city but also offers a green lung, a natural haven for citizens”, highlights Jordi Vilanova, referring as “in the last couple of years, we saw a remarkable transformation in Porto with the expansion and refurbishment of green spaces”.

The head of the hotel group believes that “together, we are building spaces and cementing a legacy for future generations. A more ecological, sustainable, innovative, and prosperous Porto”.

To the West everything new

But the area still has room for development. Pedro Baganha adds that “there is a project to expand this green area close to the Liceu Carolina Michäelis, but the lands belong to the State, and we are waiting for the plan to reformulate the space”, which includes Quinta de Santo António, to move forward.

At the beginning of next year, explains the councillor for Urban Planning and Public Space, “a street will be opened, also by a private developer, that will connect Rua de Cervantes to Rua de Barão Forrester, which includes part of those lands” and includes the construction of a student residence, in a “continuous expansion of this park to the West”.

In progress, on lands provided by the Municipality, there are new accesses to the Tennis club, and the project to build a residence for the elderly.

Regarding the land where “Casão Militar” stands today, the councillor for Housing also confirms that “the City Hall and IHRU will come into possession of an allotment and develop two affordable housing buildings on the land located to the south of the subway”. The partnership agreement is for the municipality to develop the allotment and keep one of the two lots.