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Urban Renewal | No More Nova Luz


The victory of Fernando Haddad in the recent mayoral elections was bound to produce some high speed 180-degree turns in public policy, I thought.

The most visible so far has been the suspension of the Nova Luz urban renewal project for the historic downtown of S. Paulo. Some background posts:

Source: Rede Brasil Atual

São Paulo –  São Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad (PT), announced today — January 23 —  that he will transform a judicial order suspending construction on the Nova Luz urban renewal project into a opportunity to rethink the project from a fresh perspective, based on a plan to reoccupy the downtown area with an emphasis on the construction of residences.

“I have not seen the legal ruling yet, but certain aspects of the project bother me. For example, delegating to a private  agent the decision on which properties will be expropriated. I have never approved this way of delegating urban space,” he said.

The  Nova Luz project was created during the city administration of José Serra (2005-2006) and wound up as one of the main rallying points of his successor, Gilberto Kassab (PSD). It provided for the rezoning of 48 city blocks near the Luz train station by means of an «urban renewal concession» and granted the power of expropriation to private sector contractors. The judge in the case ruled that there had been no popular participation in the drafting of the measure.

Haddad’s proposal for the downtown area is to promote the reoccupation of the area by local residents. Yesterday, Haddad and state governor Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) signed an agreement to develop living spaces in the downtown area.

According to Haddad, plans have already been drawn up for the construction of 28,000 residents in the area.  “We want São Paulo citizens to reoccupy the downtown area as residents and not just as workers in the area. For every resident, there are five more persons working in the area,” he said.

President of the Associação Amo a Luz, Paula Ribas, who has lived in the area for more than 30 years, Haddad’s decision to abandon the Nova Luz projects of his predecessors is excellent news. The Association was the plaintiff in the civil suit that led to the suspension of the project. “We had a meeting to urban development secretary Fernando de Melo Franco in late December, and abandoning the project already seemed to be a prime directive of the new adminstration,”he said.

Ribas said the new plan is a good one, but added that City Hall still has to rezone the area, take into account commercial properties, and cope with the region’s social ills, such as crack-addicted street dwellers.

A controversial program of forced hospitalization for street addicts is about to be rolled out.