Villa Crespo charm on the cheap
Anyone who knows Buenos Aires knows that Palermo is one of the most fashionable areas in town—and its real estate prices reflect that fact. According to the article “Charm on the Cheap,” from the Financial Times, some residents of Buenos Aires have found a niche for themselves renting in Palermo, but actually living in the neighborhood to the south-west, called Villa Crespo. Villa Crespo was founded as a barrio back in 1888 when the National Footwear Factory opened and conventillos sprung up around it to house the workers. The area grew into a middle-class neighborhood with a distinctive personality, known for leather goods, tango, and a thriving Jewish population.
Today, Villa Crespo is a cheaper option for those who want to live near Palermo but avoid its tourist hustle and bustle. After the peso crash in 2002, some Argentines needed to augment their depleted savings by renting properties in more sought after areas and buying homes in cheaper ones. One couple, the Bustamontes, moved to Villa Crespo after the crash and bought a home there. They invested money to renovate the building and then sold half of it to pay construction costs; they then rented their home in Palermo. Another former Palermo resident, Mathilde André-Fouët, decided she wanted to escape the pace of life in Palermo and bought a house in Villa Crespo for 40,000 dollars. That house is now valued at five times the amount she paid for it.
According to some experts in the Buenos Aires real estate market, Villa Crespo is not only a way to escape Palermo’s high prices; it is a neighborhood that is itself about to take off. Currently, the cost per square meter of new developments in Villa Crespo is about 1,400 dollars, up from 1,300 dollars last year. To buy an already built apartment, prices range from 50,000 dollars for a resale and 60,000 dollars for a new property. These prices are far lower than in near-by Palermo and are a third of the prices in Puerto Madero. Young Argentine couples are taking note and snapping up one- and two-bedroom apartments in which to begin their families.
Reflecting the real estate development in and growing importance of Villa Crespo, fashionable stores such a Puma, the lingerie shop Caro Cuore, the jean store Rapsodia, and Lacoste now have locations there. This trend has caused some real estate brokers to give Villa Crespo the moniker “Palermo Queens,” but residents have resisted it, insisting that the barrio has its own unique style. While Villa Crespo is booming, it is not losing its personality. One local group dedicated to preserving the barrio’s history said that they were very pleased with the way apartment developers were changing old buildings. One builder took an abandoned factory and changed it into a complex of modern, quality homes without losing the factory’s original brick facade. Stores opening up in the district are also trying to preserve the looks of the buildings into which they are moving, remodeling the interior but not the exterior. If trends continue, Villa Crespo will become a new hot spot in town, without becoming just another section of sprawling Palermo.
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