As the city approaches its 503rd anniversary, it is encouraging to learn about the existence of projects that seek to improve its physical condition, increase the infrastructure of services and provide quality of life to the community. One of those initiatives for Havana is Avenida Italia.
Who, of generations that knew Galiano a few decades ago, has not traveled down that avenue and remembered, with a certain nostalgia, times gone by. Now, there is a real possibility of collaboration to reverse the panorama.
“Avenida Italia is a very important project for the city. We have expectations, but we must also know how to work to turn those expectations into reality”, he told Tribune of Havana, Luis Carlos Góngora, Program Coordinator of the provincial government, in charge of International Relations and Foreign Investment.
But what is this dream about? The project, he explained, aims to remodel a strategic area of the Centro Habana municipality, called Avenida Italia -better known as Galiano-, through the construction of an innovative urban district and a benchmark for the principles of the circular economy, digital culture and the creativity and enhancement of the products of the supply chains.
Conceptually, urban rehabilitation is projected, promoting a sustainable economy; as well as community actions and the creative industries.
The Institutional Local Development Project, prepared by a team from the Group for the Integral Development of the Capital (GDIC) indicates that this artery is a space that, through renaturalization, reconnects with nature and co-evolves towards a biocentric scenario, where the natural environment and built are integrated as parts of the same system capable of coexisting and enhancing each other.
At the same time, they see it as a resilient and inclusive meeting environment, “which evolves its inherited values, while becoming a living laboratory for experimentation in new ways of doing things, functioning as a platform for experience in the urban dimension of the new challenges of economic and social development that our country faces today”.
A sun with several rays
Avenida Italia, Góngora details, “has been projected in several directions: one is to achieve an agroecological district for the commercialization of agroecological products that Cuba produces and exports to Italy and other countries: in coffee, sugar, honey and other productions of fruits and vegetables. vegetables that also have these characteristics”.
According to what he said, there is an important contribution from the Lavazza company, one of the world leaders in the field of coffee, which is working with the Agroforestry Group (GAF) and which is going to have a space and a museum on the avenue, to become one of the landmarks of the project.
There is a second line of work aimed at creating a different digital district on Avenida Italia. “It is a project that we are working on to create facilities: bandwidth, speed, capacity so that Avenida Italia becomes one of the places in Havana with the greatest potential and that, in addition, offers an additional advantage for all the businesses that are settle there.”
In this regard, he added: “we are not only going to leave it in terms of connectivity, but also in the services associated with that technological facility of connectivity, we are talking about applications and platforms that allow us to know what is happening, what is is marketing and interacting with e-commerce methods. In this we work with ETECSA, the Italian team and the Union of Informatics of Cuba, looking for the best experiences”, he highlighted.
As he stated, Avenida Italia wants to work on the development of tourism and real estate, associated with foreign investments that may be Italian, but not exclusively, but also with a local vision. “A change that we are trying to find is that part of the resources that are generated can also have repercussions on the recovery of the housing stock in the area, so deteriorated, and can help to recover related buildings, the buildings that are in their surroundings and make that in a different way.”
At Avenida Italia we are also working with the social issue and the housing situation has been surveyed, with a very important study that precedes everything we want to do, carried out by a team from the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) , which has characterized the real situation in the area.
“You have a deeper understanding of the situation. Now we have to go to the exchange with this population, to share about the results of that work and the project, because it is important that we do things that people want, what they understand is necessary to do, even when it is not in their preferences. But that we work in an important way on your preference, ”he pointed out.
The area, he stressed, in addition to having commercial possibilities, is a cultural district, with significant potential, so cultural and gastronomic issues will be worked on.
“It is a project that is carried out with the Italian collaboration, which co-finances it. We are working with the Italian Agency for Cultural and Economic Exchange with Cuba (AICEC), chaired by Michele Curto, a friend of Cuba, and we are involving Italian businessmen. We want there to be participation and presence of Italians residing in Cuba, who may have some representation, with some business or service to the population. For resuscitation we are counting on all of that,” he said.
According to Góngora Domínguez, Avenida Italia is above all a special area prioritized for local development in Havana. Therefore, projects and economic undertakings must be selected appropriately so that they achieve comprehensive services in the area, but also so that they have repercussions on the development and recovery of the infrastructure and buildings located on Avenida Italia.
“That is the dream, but the commitment to work is also based on that. More than saying what we could do, the message is that we must work hard to achieve it, because we can achieve it together and we can have some material support that the project and the government of Centro Habana and the province budget for.
In this regard, he highlighted that role that the municipality and its government should have in those transformations that start from their endogenous potentialities and the possibilities that their Local Development Strategy in Central Havana identified very well.
As Góngora reiterated, the project covers the entire street and in its first stage interventions are included in citadels and in some residential buildings.
“It is a project that with its urban physical transformation seeks that this avenue has greater commercial, cultural and tourist attraction and a possibility of greater security and efficiency in services to the population. At the same time, it is about the commitment we have to take advantage of all the opportunities that this collaboration initiative gives us”.
A festive weekend for Havana’s 503rd birthday