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On the map it looks homogeneous: Barcelona's Eixample district is a grid system. But jump from one Eixample street to the next parallel street, and you can find significant inequalities in housing prices. And the clearest example can be found in Carrer Consell de Cent, one of the key streets of this neighbourhood that has just been completely pedestrianized, as part of the Green Axis or Superblock plan. It turns out that the demand to live in this street, now closed to all through traffic, is now much greater than the desire of people to live on the next street, just one block uptown, Carrer València. In fact, according to ON ECONOMIA's analysis, based on the study of current data published at the end of September on the Idealista real estate portal, the conclusion is clear: rental prices in Consell de Cent are practically double those of the next street up while if you want to buy an apartment, the pedestrianized street is 14% more expensive. If we look at the absolute figures, they are still clearer: a mid-sized flat in Carrer València costs 401,208 euros, but the price in Consell de Cent rises to 460,000 euros. This comparison is made based using similar homes, in this case with two bedrooms and a bathroom and a floor area of 85 square metres.

In the case of rental apartments, the 50% difference translates into about 2,000 euros more per month: flats of 63 square metres can reach 4,250 euros - or even 6,080 euros in one that we found, of 69 square metres in Consell de Cent; but go one street up and the prices drop way down: 1,800 euros for a flat 62 square metres, or an average of 2,415 euros for a 60 square metre apartment on Calle Valencia, according to data consulted via the Idealista portal. According to market data, the creation of the superblocks, or green axes, of Consell de Cent, Rocafort, Comte Borrell and Girona has led homeowners who are selling or renting to raise their asking prices by up to 11% on the levels that were found when construction began.


Median prices in the two Eixample streets for apartments with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. Click the tabs to see the differences between Lloguer (rental) and Compra (purchase).

Profiles change

More differences are found when flat prices on the pedestrianized Carrer Girona are listed alongside those of neighbouring Carrer Bailén. Despite the changes, these two streets, which are not quite so central within the Eixample as Consell de Cent, and have traffic pacification that was carried out earlier, now show greater price stability than the scandalous rises shown in the example of the graph. However, business premises prices have increased in a street where we can find prices of 1,900 euros per month for a space of 80 square metres or 1,500 for one of 88 square metres. What will be interesting here is to see whether business establishments are transformed given the new surroundings. One case which seems to show the shape of things to come is the recently opened Machaka Burger, owned by Tapioca Healthy Food and linked to the Brazilian businessman Paulo Pusset, who opened his second restaurant in June in Consell de Cent in a premises with about 200 square meters and an investment close to 350,000 euros.

Real estate agents are also rubbing their hands together over the changes in the Eixample. The retail and investment department of Busquets Gálvez has focused on the prime section of Consell de Cent, which is defined as that between Rambla Catalunya and Pau Claris. The forecast, according to them, is that many more premium operations will be completed during this year and next, with prices ranging from one million to 3 million euros. "Our forecasts for the next few months indicate that this is the time to invest in a street like Consell de Cent, since the price of its assets will increase in the short and medium term. So much so that the prices of housing and commercial premises have already seen their rents skyrocket since the beginning of the year". Thus, the traffic pacification and the supposed environmental image which is promoted in the great transformation of the Superblocks find a contradiction in the economic reality: the disproportionate increases in housing and rental prices in the affected streets.

Operations have doubled since 2022

This 2023, purchase prices in the Dreta del Eixample zone have risen by 11.3% according to a study by Idealista, reaching a value of 6,636 euros per square metre in March 2023. According to data from Busquets Gálvez, the approximate sale price is 5,000 euros per square metre, although it can range from 3,700 euros to 6,000 euros. The average total purchase price in 2023 is 475,000 euros. Although the trend has always been rising in this central district of the Catalan capital, from August 2022 the boom skyrocketed, going from 5.8% to 8%, with figures reaching their annual peak in the months of August and September.

The real estate investment consultancy CBRE goes further and assures that with a difference of one year, from 2022 to this 2023, purchase or rental operations in Consell de Cent have shot up by 110%. And the problem is not only in the increase in prices, but in the decrease in its supply: short-term rentals are the current trend among owners. These can also depersonalize the street, since, this type of business narrows the range of end customers much more.

Warnings about this problem were already put on the table during the Barcelona mayoral election campaign in May. The first to raise the alert was the Junts candidate, Xavier Trias, while the current mayor Jaume Collboni, from the PSC, have never denied the problems which, already seen during the council terms of ex-mayor Ada Colau, were rooted in the cost of these infrastructures, and more thorough study of the consequences of the plans were asked for. This property price debate collides with that focused on the improved street environment and has remained in the background. After the recent court ruling in favour of the claim by employers association Foment del Treball y retail group Barcelona Oberta that the remodelling of Consell de Cent has to be undone, Colau warned: "We won't allow it. We demand that the current municipal government appeals against this absurd sentence and backs the city residents who want a greener and healthier Barcelona". The former mayor added that in the face of heat waves and climate change, we need "more superblocks, more green spaces and less pollution" and called for an end to climate denialism. But reality is more complex. At recent congresses in Barcelona, the underlying idea presented has been that sustainability must be two-fold: environmental, on the one hand, but also economic because if not, in the long term, the goals switch from one side to the other and work ends up having to start again.