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What you want to describe, also depends on the 'style' of your novel. If it is in a 'narrative' style, you can describe things as they are, but go about it via a different composition of words your sentences. For example, instead of saying, "This area has tall buildings and immaculate streets", it might fit into your story better, to say something like "The tall buildings and immaculate streets in this part of the city always made it so unique." OR "This area has (or had) always been known for it's tall buildings and immaculate streets."
While it's important to maintain the correct tense, grammatically, if you are telling a story, it's alright to describe how he 'walked' through the area, but your description of how the area 'looks' this way today or 'looked' this way at the moment he walked through it, is fine.
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