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From Bay Area to Barcelona

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Diagonal Mar [ Thursday, 19 Apr 07 | 16:40 ]
[Tags|, ]
[My Location |El Masnou (Barcelona) España]
[My Mood |exhaustedexhausted]

Last week I took a different route home after having lunch at El Rodizio Grill taking the L4 line of the metro and the T4 tram from its start to finish. I was surprised by all the new buildings and continued construction so I decided to take a closer look this week. Diagonal Mar is a new neighborhood in Barcelona. Located at the east end of Avenida Diagonal, one of the city’s major boulevards, an urban rebirth has taken place in what used to be a neglected neighborhood.

This project forms part of what is known as New Barcelona. Before 1996 this area of was characterized by abandoned industrial sites. The international developer Hines procured the 84-acre site in 1996 while other developers had passed on the opportunity, sensing it was a wasted effort. In spite of this, today Diagonal Mar has pioneered the revitalization effort and begun the development trend which is creating New Barcelona.

Diagonal Mar is a multi-purpose project which includes five independent residential developments, three world-class hotels (including the Princess, host hotel for Bearcelona), three Class A office buildings, one of Europe's largest convention centers (Convention Centre of Barcelona) and Catalunya's largest shopping center (Diagonal Mar Centre). The Diagonal Mar Park, a 35-acre public park including three lakes, walking and biking trails, green spaces, sports facilities and a children's’ play area surrounds this mixed-use development.

Diagonal Mar Centre includes 100,500 m2 of constructed space, 87,000 m2 of which is rentable area. The centre includes: big-box store Alcampo; an 18-screen AMC cinema; 240 shops; a 5,000 m2 terrace with restaurants and leisure activities and a 5,000-space underground parking. Major tenants include Alcampo, Fnac, Zara, H&M and Sfara.

Shopping malls are not as common in Catalunya as they are in my old home of California. So I wasn’t sure what to expect when I toured the Diagonal Mar Centre. First off, it’s moderately large and on three floors. Interesting that one floor is below street-level, which is not all that common in California. Likewise, there are 5 floors of underground parking rather than the acres of street-level parking which usually surrounds California malls. Also, the top floor has an outdoor terrace with lots of tables and chairs.

And then there’s the shops. There are some American names like Levi Strauss, Toys R Us and Hush Puppies along with a number of European-based stores that are also popular in the States like Zara. I was also surprised to see Ben and Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs along with the local chain of Dino´s for ice cream. Of course there’s a Starbucks and Il Caffè di Roma for coffee hounds.

While I am talking about food, I noticed that instead of the usual “food court” there seemed to be a greater variety of restaurants than one usually encounters in California. Sure there are the American favorite fast-food emporiums like McDonald’s and Burger King, but there are a number of other sit-down eateries from which to choose.

Public Transport

The Diagonal Mar Centre is connected by a network of ten bus lines, three underground stations and a tram line linked to all points of Barcelona.

  • Metro Stations: L4 Maresme/Forum, Selva de Mar, Besós-Mar.
  • Bus Lines: 7, 36, 41, 43, 141, N-6, N-8. (“N” indicates NitBus)
  • Tram: T4 with numerous stops and connections with the metro at Maresme/Forum and Selva de Mar stations.
  • All public transit is accessible using ATM integrated transit tickets. You can switch from metro to tram to bus and it counts as a single ride.

Diagonal Mar easy for me to reach as I can take a Rodalies R1 train from my home to the Sant Adrià de Besòs Renfe station and switch to the T4 tram that goes right by the shopping mall.


[User Picture]From: muckefuck
Thursday, 19 Apr 07 | 15:04 (UTC)
For a moment there, I had Avinguda Diagonal confused with Avinguda Paral·lel and thought that someone had razed Poble Sec! Looking at a map, I see that Diagonal Mar is actually just to the southwest of the historic centre of Sant Adrià del Besòs, far to the east of any place I've been in Barcelona. The website certainly makes it look fantastic.
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[User Picture]From: gorkabear
Friday, 20 Apr 07 | 06:57 (UTC)
There has been a plague of malls in the city. The first "modern" one can be considered l'Illa Diagonal, with an "upscale feeling". Then we got Barcelona Glòries (just a few tram stops after Diagonal Mar), Diagonal mar and the Maquinista benemoth.

If you consider just the towns in Barcelonès, you can find: 2 big malls in l'Hospitalet (la Farga and the ultra-tacky Gran Via 2 benemoth), 1 in Badalona (Montigalà, opened after the Olympic Games with Ikea).

If you consider metro area 1, you get 20-30 more malls.

The first "hipermercado" of Spain was opened in my town, Viladecans, in 1973. It closed (it's now a depot for shipping companies), but the second in Spain was the Carrefour in El Prat de Llobregat, close to Gran Via (on the way via car from the airport to the city center). The hipermercados have gotten bigger in the 90s and have become malls as in the USA. I remember having just that Carrefour when I was a child, but now I have 5 big malls (Carrefour at el Prat, Carrefour/Barnasud in Gavà, Alcampo in Sant Boi, Eroski and Hipercor/El Corte Inglés in Cornellà) at 10 minute drive from my house. And there are going to open a new one in Viladecans, too.

Currently, the Catalan Goverment has frozen all new mall developments. Only the ones approved until 2004 can be built. This was done in order to protect the small businesses. Another anti-mall law we have is the regulation of commercial hours. By not allowing to open shops on Sundays, small shops are not forced to hire more people to keep open, something that they can't afford. There are only 12 authorised holidays they can open a year. This was a law made by CiU (the former party that ruled Catalonia), known for supporting "botiguers" (which means shop-owners in catalan, but it's also a synonim for "small burgeoises").

You would be very surprised on how in other spanish metro areas malls grow. The proportion in Madrid is unbelievebable and València is even worse. My dad lives in Paterna (around 100k inhabitants) and they have 7 malls. And they keep all open. Of course, PP rules there
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