The long-awaited Plaza de la Reina reconstruction starts today, Monday 26 April, just three days after the works around the Mercado Central area began, opening the Ayuntamiento to sniping about timing since it will render the central area and Ciutat Vella effectively a building site…
After a wait of around two years for the start of these two renovation projects in Valencia’s centre, the Plaza de la Reina and the Mercado Central area, they are both starting at the same time – the latter on Thursday last week, and the former today. Because they will cause complete chaos in the Old Town, critics are claiming that it reveals the fact that the City Council has already written off the upcoming tourist season.
The City Council justified the fact that both sets of works begin at the same time by stating that the works are projects by two different departments, leading to one wag on social media saying, “There are obviously no phone lines in the Ayuntamiento building”.
Plaza de la Reina reconstruction was due to be completed by the start of Fallas 2022, and the works around Mercado Central by June 2022. So everything will be ready by the summer of 2022, when tourists are expected to be able to return. When they do, they will find a completely redesigned Plaza de la Reina.
The square is to be completely pedestrianised, and a 115-tree urban forest planted. A new area will also include benches, kiosks, a children’s play area, public restrooms, drinking water fountains, a Valenbisi station, underground garbage containers and newly designed loading zones. The most significant change will be the installation of massive awnings that will protect people from the harsh Valencian sun and make this area the most appealing location for a restaurant. When completed, the total space will be nearly 12,000 square metres, possibly making it the premier selfie hotspot in Valencia.
Around 1,700 businesses in 70 streets will be affected, estimates say, but large companies with annual invoices of more than €1m will receive a 95 per cent discount on the Economic Activities Tax. Aside from major hotels, however, few businesses will benefit from this, so it remains to be seen what provisions the government and the Association of Merchants of the Historic Center and the Ensanche will be able to provide.
Plaza de la Reina reconstruction will begin with closure of parking spaces, so if you plan to drive to the city centre as of today, it will be tremendously difficult to find a parking space anywhere. This might have the welcome effect of forcing Valencian drivers out of their cars, finally, given the excellent infrastructure with regard to public transport, not to mention the dedicated bicycle lanes that criss-cross the city.