Builders have discovered a new market among Ecuadorians and foreigners seeking housing in the center of Cuenca. The price of housing units varies from $1,000 to $2,000 per square meter.
Real estate developers are finding a new market among Ecuadorians and foreigners looking for housing in the historic center of Cuenca. The cost of housing units ranges from $1,000 to $2,000 per square meter. The historic center of Cuenca is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is an attractive location for those who want to live in the heart of the city. The proximity of the tram has also become a new attraction to live in the center.
At least four housing complexes have been built or are under construction in the center of Cuenca between 2021 and 2023, including a municipal project.
Wide range of offerings
The Casa del Huerto is one of the housing complexes built by ISAM Proyectos Inmobiliarios in the center of Cuenca. It is located on Benigno Malo y Calle Larga, three blocks from Parque Calderón, and preserves old features such as bahareque (an old Spanish term for walls made of bamboo and soil) on the walls, combined with more modern elements such as an elevator and a bicycle parking lot.
The Casas del Nogal is another housing complex built by ISAM Proyectos Inmobiliarios, located mainly around Calle Larga and El Barranco, a tourist and commercial area. Carlos Espinoza, a member of ISAM, explains that the housing projects in the center have changed the dynamics of the areas in which they are built. For example, when they built the Casas del Nogal, a few meters from the Diez de Agosto market, there were those who saw the area as a disadvantage. But the buyers of the houses, the majority of who are foreigners, integrated and appropriated the neighborhood.
The Municipal Housing Company of Cuenca (EMUVI) has also built a housing complex in the center of Cuenca, Casa Cordero, located on Padre Aguirre street, between Vega Muñoz and Pío Bravo streets. The complex has 34 housing units in two styles: heritage and modern. This project is in the commercialization stage, and in a first fair to attract buyers, most of the interested parties were from Cuenca.
The Balcones de San Sebastián project, built by ACH Consultores, is located on the park of the same name, 100 meters from the Museum of Modern Art, another of the most valued areas of Cuenca. It has 10 apartments and commercial premises on the ground floor. The project is not finished yet, but all the units are already sold, and 60% of buyers are local.
The Santa Ana Complex combines a residential area with 12 homes with a large commercial plaza. It is located on Rafael María Arízaga and Juan Montalvo streets, next to a supermarket, in an area that is mainly residential but is beginning to have an important commercial movement. In this real estate project, the costs are $1,300 per square meter, in the case of homes, and reach $1,700 for commercial spaces.
The new homes in the center have a high but competitive cost compared to the most sought-after sectors of Cuenca. The square meter of these projects ranges between $1,200 and $2,000. The most expensive thing to build in the center of Cuenca is the land, according to architect Juan Fernando Hidalgo. The average cost of the land is from $400 to $700 per square meter, depending on the area. Casa Cordero, for example, dates from 1954. It has 3,250 square meters of construction and required an investment of $2 million for its execution, plus $800,000 in land costs.
Benefits for El Centro
While some may argue that the increase in real estate projects in the historic center of Cuenca could lead to gentrification and the displacement of local residents, the builders and officials involved in these projects are striving to ensure that the developments benefit the community as a whole.
One way they are doing this is by preserving and restoring the heritage buildings that are being used as the basis for the new housing complexes. This not only helps to maintain the architectural integrity of the city, but also provides a sense of continuity and connection with the past for the residents of the new developments.
Additionally, the housing projects are designed to be inclusive and to cater to a wide range of residents, including middle and low-income families. The Casa Cordero project, for example, has a mix of heritage and modern units, with prices ranging from $62,000 to $110,000. The Santa Ana Complex, meanwhile, includes both residential and commercial spaces, with the aim of creating a vibrant and diverse community in the heart of Cuenca.
Overall, the increase in real estate projects in the historic center of Cuenca represents a significant shift in the city’s development trajectory. While it is still too early to tell, the projects appear to be benefiting both the builders and the community as a whole, by revitalizing neglected areas of the city and providing new opportunities for residents to live in the heart of one of Ecuador’s most culturally rich and vibrant cities.
As the trend continues, it will be interesting to see how the city adapts and evolves to accommodate the needs of its growing population, while preserving the unique character and heritage of its historic center.