Xavier Rius, 70 years old, retired teacher, from the Esquerra del Eixample neighborhood association, exudes enthusiasm. “We are delighted with the green axis of Consell de Cent street. Before, children went to school hand in hand with their parents and now many go in groups! Parents are no longer so afraid to leave them… And we neighbors meet again on the street. The axis is our Rambla, so pleasant that people make detours to go this way wherever they go, even if it takes longer. So you end up meeting a lot of people. I live by Joan Miró Park, and around here everything is very neighborhood. More tourists go to the other side. Even the guy at the kiosk, who was against it, is very happy.” Despite everything, Rius also has some buts… “The maintenance is not adequate, and many do what they want with the bike, the car, the van… Many older people are not comfortable. But we hope that the City Council takes action, that it does not let all this go to waste.”

The green axes of Consell de Cent and surrounding areas these days celebrate their first year surrounded by concern. This once-through road became a neighborhood meeting point. But the flaws caused by its remodeling cloud its success as a citizen. Neighbors and merchants ask for the adjustment of the great Eixample Superblock. And they don’t understand the municipal delay.

“It’s not very green,” laments Joan Spin, a pioneer businessman in Gayxample, owner of three businesses in the area. More like charcoal gray fly wing. They left four floors flanked by cables that are broken a lot. Everything is very left out. There are no trash cans, the picnic tables are full of waste, the containers are in the middle of the street, between terraces and delivery vans, how the chamfers were loaded! And bikes, cars and scooters also go wherever they want. Couldn’t they put some bollards? And I live in Mallorca, and there the cars continue to pass at full speed. In Valencia they go slower because they get stuck. If what they wanted was to get cars out of the center, they couldn’t do it. “They should have performed in more streets.”

“The majority of residents believe that the project does not need major changes,” says Jaume Artigues, from the Dreta del Eixample neighborhood association. These actions require a period of adaptation and pedagogical work, to adjust their operation and for people to learn to behave. But here last year nothing was done. We hope that the City Council takes action. It seems that the new municipal government wants to make it clear that the previous one did everything wrong. There is a lack of signs, bollards and urban guards, especially next to educational centers and in new squares. It is not clear where the vehicles can join. Some are confused and others take advantage of the confusion. And the loading and unloading schedule is systematically broken. “Many have gotten used to parking wherever they want.”

The Gremi de Garatges de Barcelona i Província also demands urgent measures from the City Council: improve access to parking so that drivers do not have to make so many turns, increase penalties against those who park as they please, reorganize loading and unloading, put clear signs…

The political ups and downs explain the ways of the City Council. Mayor Ada Colau insisted that everything be ready before the municipal elections. But after those works against the clock she lost the elections, and Mayor Jaume Collboni never shared that enthusiasm, he never saw clearly the fit of this transformation in the heart of Barcelona. The Deputy Mayor for Urban Planning, Laia Bonet, says that they are studying the complaints, that they are aware of the problems of the axes, that they are designing the measures to be taken in a few months. “Pacifications are here to stay,” the councilor continues, “but there are other models. The one on the axes poses problems of coexistence, its maintenance is ten times more expensive than that of other roads and it is not compatible with public transport. For this reason, we consider establishing other more sustainable models in other points, in all the districts of Barcelona.”

Legal uncertainty also explains municipal doubts. The three court rulings ordering the reversal of these works lead the City Council to take other measures. Barcelona Oberta merchants denounced the project, then still in its infancy, because they believe that forcing drivers to do so many L’s, among other things, strangles access to the center and harms many businesses. Other failures of this type will occur soon. But no one believes that it is appropriate to dismantle everything. To get out of this quagmire, the judge proposed that the City Council and Barcelona Oberta agree on compensatory measures of a global nature in terms of mobility. “Reversing the axes is not an option,” adds Bonet. We are recovering the dialogue that did not take place in the last mandates. “Those ways unleashed the confrontation that led us to this.”

“We understand that the City Council wants to propose other models compatible with public transport on other streets – says Genís Domínguez, from the citizen platform Eixample Respira –, but we are also concerned about its lack of interest in the axes. The City Council should act on the streets with the most traffic, such as València and Aragó. Bikes and scooters generate coexistence problems here because the other streets are not safe.”

“They planned this transformation in a very ideological way,” laments Pròsper Puig, from the Barcelona Comerç Foundation, “and they did not consider its externalities. They strangled private vehicle access to the center, and we lost the customer from the metropolitan area, here and in the rest of the city. All of this will give rise to an expulsion of local businesses.”

Xavier Llobet, from the Cor Eixample merchants association, says that people walk through Consell de Cent more than ever, but that this did not increase sales. “Maybe they’ll have a beer. But the expectations of the owners of the premises have skyrocketed, as they are already warning tenants who have little left on their contract that their rents will increase. What cost you 400 euros a month will cost you 800. They opened some businesses aimed at tourism on the Dreta side. But it is still early to appreciate the change. The expulsion of business as usual will occur in a couple of years.”

“We live better,” says María Moreno, 46, an architect and lifelong resident of Girona Street. You look out the window and instead of cars you see birds. But every business that closes becomes a brunch, especially on the east side. Suddenly everything has to be cool. “We all like bars, but no one wants to live in a theme park.”

According to analysts from the real estate consultancy CBRE, the repercussions of the implementation of Consell de Cent’s green axis on the commercial premises market are still in their infancy, but that of housing is already a fact. “Before the works on the green axis began, the commercial fabric of Consell de Cent was of a more local character,” explains Iris Oliu, head of the CBRE department of commercial streets in Barcelona. Since then, they have opened more than 2,000 m2 of new brands classified as premium, with international recognition.” We are talking about the additions of Alqvimia, All yours, Aesop, Sessùn, Good News, Tudor, COS and Seiko. “With these movements the street was positioned at the level of Rosselló, which had a more premium profile among all the transversal streets of Passeig de Gràcia and Rambla Catalunya. The influx of public has practically tripled in recent months.”

And the changes in the housing market are more evident. As Xavier Güell, director of CBRE Barcelona, ​​points out, between February 2022 and December 2023 in the Eixample district, rent became more expensive by 44.8%, and sales by 7.1%. And specifically in Consell de Cent these increases were more notable, 50.9% and 10.5% respectively. “The case of Consell de Cent shows that the insertion of green axes in the center of cities generates a positive impact on people’s quality of life, with a clear reflection in the real estate sector: more people want to live in these axes and Therefore, prices increase –Güell continues–. The implementation of green axes causes the real estate market in the area to become an active refuge due to the very high demand in a section with limited supply.”