The regenerated district of Ciutat Vella that exists today is the result of a transformation and revitalisation process that started in the district at the beginning of the 1980s. The loss of the central position held by Ciutat Vella since the middle of the 19th century when the city walls of Barcelona were demolished and the city began to expand to the Eixample district led to the physical and social decline of the historic centre. Following the restoration of democratic local councils in 1979 after the dictatorship, Barcelona city council decided to take action in the historic centre and revitalise it with a dual objective: recover it as a vital part of the city and maintain the residential nature of its districts.
In order to do so, the City Council asked the Catalan Government and Spanish Government to take part in the project and the decisions were agreed jointly with the resident association of the four districts (Raval, the Gothic Quarter, the Old Town and Barceloneta) and with financial institutions such as Barcelona Chamber of Commerce. During the first half of the 1980s, the Special Plans for the Internal Reform of the Raval, the Eastern Sector of the Old Town and Barceloneta districts were drafted and in 1986 the district was declared an Area for Integral Rehabilitation (AIR). That same year, Barcelona was chosen as the host of the 1992 Olympic Games, an event that made it even more necessary to take action on a large scale in the city centre.
In 1988, the creation of the mixed economy company Promoció de Ciutat Vella, SA made it possible to promote and lead the transformation of the district. Since their creation, the districts of Ciutat Vella have been equipped with resident infrastructures such as community centres, retirement homes, libraries, activity centres or nurseries in addition to city-based institutions such as the Contemporary Art Museum or different university buildings. During those years, most of the streets in the district have been rehabilitated, and different operations have been carried out to improve the urban areas and create new public spaces; new public housing has been built, as well as the private rehabilitation of buildings, housing and commercial premises. Furthermore, the three markets (Boqueria, Santa Caterina and Barceloneta) in Ciutat Vella have been renovated and the service infrastructures and networks of the historic centre have been improved.
Promoció de Ciutat Vella, SA ceased its operations in 2002, in compliance with the legal term of fourteen years of existence. Three years before that, however, Barcelona city council had taken the decision to give continuity to the mixed corporation model as an instrument for continuing to lead and manage the process of transforming and revitalising the historic centre of the city. This decision materialised in the creation of Foment de Ciutat Vella, SA. This company continues to control all activities directly related to or arising from the process of transforming and revitalising the districts in the historic centre of Barcelona.
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