Valparaíso plans its first gastronomic, cultural and tourism center

Patio Subercaseaux will consist of a two-tier boulevard inside a plaza surrounded by restaurants, cafes, shops, an art gallery and a theater for various musical and cultural events. The building is planned to open in the second half of 2011.

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Around US$2.4 million has been invested in a new cultural and tourism center in the old district of Valparaíso, one of the most well-known Chilean coastal cities. It is hoped that the new center will form a focal point for tourists who have previously been at a disadvantage as attractions are scattered around town.

The attraction was designed by local architect Alfredo Colombo and engineer Cristián Draper and is modelled after Patio Bellavista in Santiago. The square within the capital city is already one of the most popular spots for Chileans and tourists, constantly filled with the sounds of jazz, traditional music, and restaurant hum.

The new development on the coast comes as a part of the Puerto Viejo program, launched in July, which seeks to revitalize the old district of the city. The program, an initiative of the Municipality of Valparaíso, came into being on the city’s seventh anniversary of being elected a UNESCO World Heritage site. Around US$30 million is being invested to turn the old area into a bustling tourist destination.

The center will be built where the old Palace Subercaseaux previously stood. Described as neo-classical in style, the old palace was destroyed in a gas explosion in 2007. Special funds were set aside to rebuild it and several other historic structures damaged by fire since 2007.

An antique entrance to the elevator Ascensor Lecheros, also destroyed in 2007 and then completely demolished by its private owner, is to be rebuilt. The National Monument Commission said it plans to get the elevator working again and then reconstruct its entrance building.

“We want to encourage investment in this neighbourhood,” Mayor of Valparaiso Jorge Castro said, according to La Tercera. “By doing so, [it will] open up more opportunities, so that we have young students here, and everything to do with science, technology and innovation, and commercial activity across all the initiatives which are taking place here.”