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Cordish, the Last of the Big Failed Real Estate Projects

07 August 2017

Eurovegas, Operation Campamento, the Four Seasons of Barcelona and the Hyatt hotel project in the Torre Agbar are some of the most famous unsuccessful investments in Spain.

They were destined to occupy prominent positions in the ranking of mega real estate projects but were doomed to failure, even before starting out. Failure to comply with regulatory requirements, bureaucratic obstacles and clashes with the relevant authorities have been some of the factors that have caused the failure of multi-million-dollar investments planned by, among others, the North American group Cordish, the Chinese giant Wanda, the American magnate Sheldon Adelson and projects by the multinationals Four Seasons and Grand Hyatt in Barcelona.

The last project to flounder has been Cordish’s. The Baltimore-based group wanted to build a leisure and gambling complex in the Madrid municipality of Torres de la Alameda. But the Madrid Autonomous Community has rejected the proposal under the Integrated Development Center (CID) not once, but twice, considering that the project will not impact the economy, employments levels and culture sufficiently, while also questioning the project’s feasibility.

Cordish’s truncated plan joins Eurovegas, the ill-fated gambling complex that American Sheldon Adelson intended to build in Alcorcón, the Gran Scala fiasco in the Los Monegros desert and the mirage of The Kingdom of Don Quixote in Ciudad Real.

Another of investor that has accumulated bad experiences in Madrid is the Chinese giant Wanda, which owns 20% of Atletico Madrid. The conglomerate, led by the tycoon Wang Jianlin, announced three years ago its intention to invest at least 3 billion euros in a high-end complex with up to 15,000 luxury dwellings in the former Campamento barracks in Madrid owned by the Ministry of Defence. In addition, the urbanization plan included a commercial complex, theme parks and casinos. The Chinese group, however, gave up its plans when faced with land prices it considered exorbitant. Months later, another of Wanda’s star projects in Madrid went up in smoke. The group, which had bought the Edificio España from Santander for 265 million in 2014, decided to put it on sale after disagreements with the Madrid City Council, which required the conservation of the front and side facades, as established by the law on protection of historic buildings.

Vetoes

Hotel investments have suffered a setback in Barcelona as well. Suspended licenses have caused large international chains to withdraw from their projects in the City of Barcelona.

In particular, the arrival of the hotel brand Four Seasons in Barcelona was truncated by a municipal veto. KKH Property Investors paid 90 million euros for the Deutsche Bank building, located at the intersection of Barcelona’s Avenida Diagonal and the Paseo de Gracia. KKH was seeking the demolition of the building, to subsequently build a larger building, to be run by Four Seasons. But the project collided with the then activist Ada Colau, who turned the rejection of the project into one of her electoral promises. Her election to the Barcelona City Council in the summer of 2015 cut short KKH’s plans, which has chosen instead to rehabilitate the old office building and convert it into high-end residential housing. Four Seasons, which will land in Madrid in early 2019 at the Canalejas complex, is still looking for locations in the city.

Another of the big international hotel chains that could have come to Barcelona was Hyatt. In 2013, fund manager Emin Capital, led by Andorran Jordi Badia, announced that it had bought the Agbar Tower for 150 million euros and was preparing to convert it into a luxury hotel that would be managed by the US hotel chain. Three years later, the project had still not been approved and the asset was finally sold to Merlin Properties, which will maintain it as an office building and hope that it will become the headquarters of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Original Story: ProOrbyt Expansion – Rebeca Arroyo/Marisa Anglés

Translation: Richard Turner

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