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Reus neighborhood associations want to give cultural and commercial use to empty premises

The actions of neighborhood and commercial associations that study giving a use to the empty premises of the city are proliferating. One of the first associations to make them public is the Associació de Comerciants i Professionals Reus Nord. El Diari echoed, earlier this week, his initiative, which aims to give life to the empty premises of the Niloga neighborhood by creating an area in which to promote Reus crafts.

As explained by the president of the Associació de Veïns Reus Nord –on behalf of the commercial entity, which is the neighbor’s sister–, Josep Ramon Ferré, by having different spaces in the neighbourhood, “we believed that it would be ideal to help artisans of the city while we take advantage of the ground floor that is not used and exhibit their work there». The initiative would also contemplate “beautifying other spaces, such as walls of residential blocks, with artistic murals.”

The area they study is between Bertran del Bell-lloc and Bertran de Castellet streets. “There are unused premises that are too small to be used as a business,” he pointed out. They plan something that “is projected in the Pla Reus Horitzó 32, in which the lack of an arts and culture center is mentioned, which concentrates the cultural production of Reus”, he detailed. He added that they are talking both with “owners who would be willing to rent premises” and that the City Council is weighing the feasibility, too, since “we need help from the town hall, both for the procedures, and to get some kind of help for expenses initials”. The Councilor for Business and Employment, Carles Prats, confirms all this: «We are studying it, to see if there are opportunities to carry it out and, in addition, similar ideas are being proposed by other groups to revitalize other areas of the city, We still can’t make any progress.”

coexistence

The councilor acknowledges that ideas such as Reus Nord “coexist with the Reus Espais Vius municipal project, from which the occupation of 18 empty premises in the suburbs of Robuster and Sant Pere is invigorated”, conceived to be completed within two years. The council also allocates 250,000 euros to promote entrepreneurial activity, finances half the investment of each business that is installed in the suburbs, with a limit of 20,000 euros per case. The grants have requirements, such as «the triple impact, in which we ask that business ideas meet social, economic and environmental indicators; projects that do not meet this, receive advice to change that”, incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals. It gives weight to the compulsory nature of advice, another condition after receiving the grant, “thanks to this, there have been projects that mature and will prosper.”

“From now on, the triple impact will be maintained when it comes to promoting aid,” he says. Prats says that there have already been 58 people informed of the project. Compared to March, there are 13 more, a figure that “grows”, is happy and remembers, on the other hand, that today, Friday, the first business within the Reus Espais Vius is officially inaugurated at 6:00 p.m. It is the artisan store of restored furniture and decoration Fer Safareix (@fer_safareig), with Cristina Gómez at the helm – suburb of Sant Pere, 22–. “Currently, eight of the vacant premises are subject to an owner or tenant; one half is rented by enterprising people and the other, are premises that have been bought », she declares.

As for the conferences, talks and other activities that spread the essence of Reus Espais Vius, the mayor counts a hundred total attendees, “of different profiles, sectors and ages,” he says. Not counting Fer Safareig, there are “seven businesses that will open in the suburbs shortly.” Until now, the opening of a beauty center in which cancer products will be used, an interior design and sustainable kitchen studio and a jewelry store with origami and Japanese-inspired pieces has been known.

He says that there will be a sustainable cafeteria, a real estate company, a business related to Italian cuisine and another project that is yet to be defined. “The sectors are very broad. We observe that there is a change in the services that are being offered in the city and the pandemic has had a lot to do with it », she expresses. She reports that there are three business ideas that are “in advanced conversations with local owners” and two new owners who “have joined Reus Espais Vius with their locals.” “There have been business openings, such as the Hotel Gaudí cafeteria, which have nothing to do with the initiative, but which shows that the area is reactivating,” she explains.

On the other hand, the entrepreneur Cristina Gómez complements that the inauguration of the first dynamic premises will host different activities: «I will give a talk on the energy of furniture and a video that I will project will summarize my career».

Gómez, in addition to having restored furniture in the store, makes it known that “if someone needs advice or wants to restore their own furniture, we offer personalized training, adapted to the type of element to be customized, through vouchers for several sessions. Restoring your own furniture is of great value », he continues. The positive thing, he indicates, is that “this type of furniture, only you have it and there is no need to buy new ones if we get creative and restore them”, he maintains, following the sustainable trail.

business rotation

Since November of last year, the Reus Chamber of Commerce joined the Reus Espais Vius project. Regarding this collaboration, the coordinator of the Reus Chamber’s Trade Commission, Pau Salvadó, explains that “the essence of the Chamber is, precisely, to participate proactively in all those initiatives that support companies, especially in critical moments like the current one due to the pandemic. Historically, he reviews, «Reus has been one of the Catalan cities with the highest commercial turnover in Catalonia, something that demonstrates its dynamism in this area».

This fact continues “to be verifiable and in recent years there has been a certain chronification in the closure of premises, in certain streets.” Therefore, Reus Espais Vius «values ​​its location and attractiveness». “Urban Commerce, at street level, is experiencing a transcendent moment, attending to the new purchasing habits of customers and it is positive that the administrations and institutions have the waist to respond to their needs,” he continues.

«The added value of this initiative is, precisely, all the knowledge and awareness that accompanies it, it is not a cold campaign, with the distribution of a series of financial aid, a commitment is made to a more humane and dynamic and culturally more enriching environment », completes Salvadó.

Fewer businesses in the periphery

One of the issues addressed by some neighborhoods consulted on the subject is the commercial unemployment suffered, especially by those on the outskirts of the capital of Baix Camp. The president of the Associació de Veïns de Mas Abelló, Esperanza Galindo, reviews, for example, everything that was on the main promenade of Mas Abelló: «A Schlecker, a restaurant, a CaixaBank office, a Caixa del Penedés, two supermarkets , a pharmacy, two bars… And now, only, there is the pharmacy, a Covirán supermarket and a bar».

He says, as a “personal opinion”, that “the good thing would be if these empty premises had some use, be it commercial or social, that’s what I think”. Of course, as a neighborhood representative, he says that he only speaks for the areas of Mas Abelló and the area of ​​the old neighborhood, that is, Sant Josep Obrer, “not Mas Pellicer”, he clarifies.

In this sense, he points out that, “in these neighborhoods, not so many people live, but the promenade is a transit area and, commercially, we believe it would be good to have more places occupied with some activity,” he completes. And it is a necessity to have services close to home.

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