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Factories, cloisters, hotels. The jewels of Lombardy for sale

09 January, Corriere della Sera

Lombardy showcases its forgotten jewels: nearly 3 million Sq m of abandoned industrial areas, lands, and many buildings of architectural value. Last summer the Region of Lombardy launched the bid “Attract” aimed at attracting capitals, domestic and international, to convert the main abandoned buildings of the territory into new production sites and residencies. After six months, the operation is now in full motion thanks to two steps taken between 2017 and 2018. First: the agreement of the involved municipalities to simplify the requalification process. Second: a meeting in Rome between the City Councillor for the Economic Development, Ivan Scalfarotto, and the vice secretary of the corresponding Ministry which should commit promoting the initiative on the international markets.

“Our objective – explains the city councillor – is to turn the bid into an actual opportunity for the development of the economy and employment in Lombardy, especially in those areas that were the most impacted by the recession. We want to launch the message to entrepreneurs that Lombardy is the right place where to invest”. The cities that took part in the bid have been 57 for 134 abandoned areas in total, private as well as public. The Province with most abandoned sites is Mantua: 39 sites for a total amount of half a million Sq m awaiting to be requalified. The Province with the smallest number is Lecco, just one in the city of Bellano, namely the old cotton factory built in 1870, often mentioned in the books of the novelist Andrea Vitali.

But the old cotton factory is not the only site of historical-architectural interest in Lombardy. The long list of sites in the bid includes also the former Benedictine cloister in Goito, the ex-barracks Zanardi in Voghera, the old cotton warehouse in Rho, and the old monastery Maj in Clusone. The list features also the impressive Grand Hotel in San Pellegrino Terme and the former hotel Vetta. “These are abandoned areas of great value – explains the City Councillor-, that are worth to be recovered in respect of the limitations set by the Superintendency and destined to others uses and purposes. The bid is aimed at the cultural change and at the creation of an ecosystem working in synergy with enterprises, where public administration is not seen as an obstacle to companies, rather a facilitator able to share common paths”.

The first step was made just before Christmas with the agreement between the Region and the Municipalities concerning the simplification of the regulation around the requalification procedures. The Region has also made roughly ten million euro available to fund the proposals and will issue the agreed funding to the administrations: maximum 100 thousand euro for each project. The breakthrough, however, has come from the Rome meeting between Parolini and Scalfarotto with the presentation of the project that got the endorsement from the Ministry.

The Region of Lombardy, together with the regional Chambers of Commerce, had already thought to participate directly in the promotion of the initiative on the national and international markets. The interest of the Ministry for the Economic Development, that might turn the Attract project into a model for the entire nation, could make possible the passage from paperwork to execution with the first operational plans.

Source: Corriere della Sera

Translator: Cristina Ambrosi

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