Puerto Madero: A Haven in Buenos Aires

Puerto Madero sometimes feels like it is part of a different city than Buenos Aires.  According to the article “A Haven in Buenos Aires,” in the International Herald Tribune, Puerto Madero is noticeably quieter and crossing its streets is definitely safer.  Separated from the bustling microcentro by the water way, the newest quarter of Buenos Aires is organized and clean.  A reclaimed dockland, it has been revamped the last several years and, since the crisis, has become one of the symbols of a recovering, hip Buenos Aires.

About half of the tenants in Puerto Madero are foreigners.  A typical foreigner and investor in Puerto Madero is someone like Gene Brown, an independent businessman who bought an apartment there in 2005.  He paid 200,000 dollars for 860 square feet in a 30 story apartment building; to Brown this price was an incredible deal.  Another type of tenant is someone working for companies in the area like 3M, which has its offices in the northern part of Puerto Madero.  Tenants live in lofts that were once granaries and mills and are now skyscrapers that overlook the Río de la Plata and ecological reserve.  Surrounding the lofts are many places to eat and socialize.

In the 1990s, the Argentine government decided that the city needed more office space to keep up with globalization, so development began on the 420 acres owned by the Port Authority.  The red brick warehouses were converted into office space and restaurants, including everything from Argentina steak houses like Cabaña de Las Lilas to American chains like Hooters and TGI Friday.  One of the most important recent development projects has been the Faena Hotel+Universe, designed by Philippe Starck.  This complex has 100 private apartments built in a former granary and is the center of an “art district” being designed by fashion businessman Alan Faena.  Apartments in the Faena buildings are all but sold out and a new complex is already being planned, called the Aleph, designed by Foster + Partners of London.  It will be part of the Faena district when it is completed in 2010.

Development is welcomed by many, but not by all.  There is some concern about this quantity of construction near the ecological reserve as well as a feeling that Puerto Madero is “sterile” and separate.  However, the goal of Puerto Madero has not been to integrate the surrounding community but to create a financially successful district, which is certainly being achieved.  Real estate is driving business there, with people selling apartments they bought three years ago for double what they originally paid.  If banks begin giving loans to developers in the area—which they haven’t done up until now—the construction boom in Puerto Madero could take off even faster.  As it is, the cash-heavy, credit-weak market this creates means that there is little chance of a bubble, a comfort to those in today’s tenuous feeling housing market.

Buying an apartment in Puerto Madero is, according to Gene Brown, “a lifestyle purchase.”  He stays there a few months, enjoying the apartment and the life style, and then rents it at high prices to visiting foreigners.  Clearly, places like Faena Hotel+Universe and the Aleph will be contributing to that lifestyle—one of luxury, good living, and low, though rising, prices.

Puerto Madero Buenos Aires Map

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