CUENYA Beatriz Elena
Large urban projects and social actors. The production process of the retiro Project 1991-2001
Delft University Press
Lugar: Delft, Holanda; Año: 2005 p. 233
Large urban projects furthered by the public sector in strategic areas begin to spread in Latin American cities in the context of globalization. These urban operations are subject to controversy in the public and academic realms. Due to their scale and complexity, they question the planning frameworks and land use regulations, redefine economic opportunities, generate tensions in local finances, give new dimensions to political spaces and change the map of positions occupied by urban actors. Large urban projects generate extraordinary benefits and damages which have been only partially examined. All this is reflected in the public and academic debates which are still embryonic and which draw few conclusions. This research studies, by means of the analysis of a paradigmatic case, the production process of a large urban project furthered by the State and directed to create a new centrality. The analysis is focused on the supporting and opposition forces displayed by various social actors involved (State, economic, community and politicians) which come to light at the moment in which the political decision about furthering the project is made, influencing its development and its final outcome. The general objective of this study is to provide conceptual and empirical elements which will help to understand the interaction between production of new built-up spaces and social forces. Additionally, it is intended to throw light on how this affects the management of the large contemporary projects The methodological strategy of the research rests on three pillars. In the first place the research reviews theoretical approaches on the production of built-up space and the role of social actors in this process. At this level of the analysis the notion of New Urban Policy, developed in Anglo Saxon academic circles, is particularly useful in order to situate our object of study. In the second place, the research provides an ad-hoc analytical and methodological framework about large urban projects and the interests of social actors. A great portion of the effort of the research is put on this framework, since there are neither formal models nor finished theories to study this subject. At this level, the research tries to identify the structural aspects of large urban projects; those that are the crux of the relation between them and territory and which allow us to understand why certain actors are involved in its production and development. For doing this, this framework is based on two basic inputs: a) a set of recent studies referred to Latin America contexts that explore different aspects of large projects and b) an adaptation of stakeholder analysis and social analysis considered very useful methods for a systematization and analysis of support and opposition provoked by the intervention of governmental authorities in the field of social policies. These methodologies have been applied with a governance approach, which underline the interactive nature of the political processes. In the third place, a deep empirical study is undertaken through the analysis of secondary and primary sources of information. The case study within the previously framework allow us to draw ten tentative general conclusions about contemporary large urban projects. Results of the present research contribute to the understanding in what manner the production of new spaces of urban centrality -in the context of global restructuring- implies a technically complex social and political process which, even from the earliest stages of launching such an initiative on the part of the public sector, carries on contradictory strategies of multiple stakeholders who operate in significant areas of the city, including strategies of the state itself that acts as a part of and as a judge of the interests in conflict. It has been shown which structural factors determine that large urban projects generate benefits and damages to a range of stakeholders. In this sense, four aspects have been noted as key factors in the determination of winners and losers: a) increased values produced by large urban projects together with the arrangement of social and territorial distribution of potentially generated surplus values; b) the competition between profitable land uses which value the city as a business for the private and globalized sector and non-profit uses which enhance the city as a place to live and to work for individuals and groups with no capital; c) the competition for access to million dollar contracts and to positions of international renown which generate the production of studies, tentative and final projects; and d) the competition for the technical and political control in the management of large urban projects from the emergence of such an initiative, to the formulation of tentative proposals until the final definition of a marketing plan for these lands. It has been argued that benefited and damaged stakeholders act in support or opposition to large urban projects, by means of different collective or individual ways showing their conflicting interests. It has been shown that conflicting interests demand the state's intervention, which can go from the modification of the project to its discontinuance. It has been found out that this constellation of forces and public responses - being changed in the course of time- has a direct incidence on large urban projects in terms of their objectives, characteristics and partial and final results. Thus, a grand scale operation is no longer the result of the outline and action of one unique stakeholder (any planning office of the public sector). Instead, it gathers a variety of stakeholders who operate and influence events by asserting their interests. In view of these findings, it has been suggested that the process of production of a large urban project from its conception to the final execution requires special proceedings based on negotiation and the search of consensus solutions. If this is not done, interventions can be paralyzed or finally show socially questionable results. Possible applications of obtained results are linked to urban planning and urban management through the following main recommendations: a) a large urban project ´s conception should foresee a mixture of uses and activities, maintaining an adequate relationship between private uses and public spaces; b) the elaboration of the project should be made by means of procedures capable to of assuring a maximum of technical competence and impartiality; c) the management of a large urban project should incorporate a component of land policy with specific mechanisms, so that municipal governments may recover the surplus value generated by their own investments and urban regulations and redistribute that value in an equitable way; d) the assembly of a large urban project should provide mechanisms of for participation of stakeholders, in order to gather their opinions and needs, and find consensus arrangements.