Carrasco, a seaside resort designed for the upper classes of Montevideo
In the first decades of the twentieth century, the eastern coast of Montevideo was a remote place, in an area of sandy and inhospitable marshes. Then the idea of building a seaside resort designed for the upper classes was planned to avoid going to the overcrowded beaches that existed in Ramirez and Pocitos closer to the center of Montevideo.
Carrasco was the first case in Uruguayan history of urban planning designed exclusively by private enterprises. The work was hard in that neighborhood, because it included getting rid of the marshes, clearing the dunes and the general leveling of the terrain.
Cars would venture from the center of Montevideo in a drive that would take an hour and a half, initially with some caution but slowly, the house constructions started to appear here and there and spontaneously adjusted to the style of the place.
But things did not go as expected. In 1914 the First World War broke out and the insecurity paralyzed the sales of plots until 1918 and only after many years. Carrasco, finally became a neighborhood where human effort won the advance of the dunes and green and luxurious gardens took place. It is now one of the finest areas of Montevideo with wide avenues, houses with sumptuous architecture surrounded by wonderful parks and ancient trees.
The Hotel Carrasco
The main stronghold of the dream was the great building Hotel Casino Carrasco, built in the style of luxurious and aristocratic European hotels that inspired Alfredo Arocena the pioneer of Carrasco.
In 1912 the construction of the hotel began, based on the draft of the French architects Dunant and Mallet, with subsequent collaboration Uruguayan Elena Felipe.
The Municipality continued the work, completed in 1921 and the building surrounded by gardens and sculptures in Carrara marble would become the meeting point of the affluent society. Located on the waterfront, it had clubs, a casino, great dining rooms and indoor and outdoor terraces.
Sofitel recently gave the touches that this giant needed and transformed this hotel into one of the best hotels of Montevideo.
Carrasco’s ongoing Transformation
Carrasco is nowadays one of the neighborhoods that has changed the most in the recent years with the installation of a myriad of shops and offices – which have moved from other places such as La Ciudad Vieja – The old city of Montevideo – to find in Carrasco an opportunity to become more visible and promote different developments. Avenue Arocena has become a “boutique area” and many of the old family houses are continuously taken over by commercial enterprises.
This phenomenon has also brought with it an increased traffic flow and saturation of public spaces so the new regulations are delimiting some spaces to park in a neighborhood that historically has the characteristic of being residential.
The experience of the Carrasco Hotel Sofitel with its underground parking showed that digging can be a good solution to take cars off the streets and public spaces free. Several technicians of the Municipality of Montevideo explained in March 2014 a parking development for the neighborhood in which many changes must respect the heritage value of the property.
On the possibility of authorizing underground parking areas in Carrasco it is always better to have the cars underground than invading the city, giving more importance to the pedestrian. But it has its cost.
In quantitative terms, overall of Carrasco has 7,095 plots but only 630 properties have historical protection. Meaning that well over 90 % of the properties of Carrasco could go through a transformation if it is needed. Another point to take into account is that not all of the plots in Carrasco have the same characteristics but anything that can be done to improve the aesthetic and environmental quality is welcome.
The Permanent Committee of Carrasco has approved regulations to respond to the development pressure occurred in recent years in Carrasco trying to encourage individuals to build with some of the characteristics that defined the Carrasco area since the beginning. This neighborhood is already developed but will continue to grow into further being one of the best areas in Montevideo.
For more information on specific areas or Real Estate in Carrasco or Montevideo, Uruguay please contact us.
By Mary Ann Thompson