Iracema Beach, Brazil

Iracema Beach, Brazil

Dear Reader,

I’m facing the ocean. Moonlight bounces off the breaking waves and the white sand. To my right, three miles of beach opens up. The street market in the middle of the bustling boardwalk is open and it’s buzzing. Shiny and winking high rises shoot vertically up from the ground. These are the buildings that wealthy Brazilians want to live in.

I’m standing at the edge of the boardwalk outside a trendy new bar. There was nothing here the last time I was in town. Tonight traffic is at a standstill as $80,000 SUVs unload their well-dressed cargo. This is where everyone wants to be—not just for partying…but also to live, do a business deal, have a quiet meal or exercise with friends. Jogging at 5.30 a.m. here is networking time.

This boardwalk of three miles has changed dramatically since the 1980s. Today it’s fully built out. Prices have almost doubled since I first came here three years ago. I expect they will increase further. Demand is surging. Because there is no more developable land, all the buyers are competing for existing inventory.

To my left I see the wide empty space of Iracema Beach. I’m standing where the boardwalk ends.

Iracema is the widest of the city beaches. In places it must be half a mile from the start of beach (where the temporary beach bars and huts are) to where the waves break. World class volleyball tournaments come here. For New Year’s and Carnival this beach packs in more than a million revellers. But there has been little development here. People come to use the beach, for festivals and concerts. Then they leave.

The Path of Progress is rolling into Iracema just like it did the boardwalk. This time it won’t take 30 years. The Fortaleza of 2011 is the #1 tourist destination for Brazil’s growing middle class. And development here is being supercharged as part of a $6 billion investment in tourism and infrastructure.

The boardwalk is being extended along Iracema to create Fortaleza’s next chic promenade. Trendy bars and restaurants are already eyeing up plots. They want to be open for business in time for soccer’s Confederations Cup that comes in 2013 and the city’s biggest party yet: the 2014 Soccer World Cup.

Bulldozers have cleared drab temporary beachfront structures to create space for a new wide boardwalk. The site is being prepared for the new $135 million aquarium. It’s set to be the largest in South America and one of the continent’s biggest tourist attractions.

This is the place to buy. This area was rezoned last January, bringing the maximum height down from 72 meters to 48 meters. Buildings approved under old zoning laws will always have unobstructed views in the higher floors.

As for properties on the surging boardwalk which is set to seamlessly join Iracema: You’ll pay double…or more. And prices there are still rising…

Ronan McMahon

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