The New Kid on the Block: CCB’s Development Plans

Centro Cultural de Belém is in the first stages of getting a long-awaited expansion. On Nov. 29, CCB opened the public competition for sections four and five of the complex, which will become a commercial zone and hotel, respectively.

Whenever we hear “there’s a new hotel being built,” we tend to worry just a bit (especially when it’s next to one of our favorite cultural centers), but CCB seems to have some pretty strict rules on how to blend it with the existing three sections. Firstly, they are not looking for one giant hotel on the 16,330-sq-m plot, but rather two “complimentary hotel products.” This would likely be a four-star-plus hotel and a set of serviced apartments. Furthermore, CCB states that any new building will have to “follow the existing architectural line,” meaning it should, in theory, blend with the rather imposing design of the existing center.

There has been 7,170 sqm allocated for above-ground construction of module four, which is set to house what CCB dubs “Trade & Economic Activities.” This will include a variety of stores, but documents show that between 40% and 70% will be dedicated to restaurants. They hope to keep all retailers tied to Portuguese culture and have specifically mentioned gift shops, which would cater to the tourists, as well as multi-brand concept stores, which may pull a more local crowd. The hope is to have small to medium businesses in the space, with a focus on ateliers, co-working spaces, and start-ups. The announcement emphasized CCB’s desire to make this new development — specifically module four — a place for both residents and tourists. This is very much in keeping with the claims of new development projects across the city.

The contracts that are up for grabs will run for 50 years, and will reportedly bring the center a minimum of 900.000€ per year, adjusted to inflation.

Centro Cultural de Belém was originally proposed as a space to accommodate Portugal’s European Union Presidency before eventually becoming a cultural center. The original plans called for five modules: a conference centre, a performing arts centre, an exhibition centre, a hotel, and complementary commercial zone. However, only the first three were built between 1989 and 1992, with CCB’s doors eventually opening to the public in 1993. Now, 25 years later, the final two modules look set to be built, completing the original plan.

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