25 September 2018 – Expansión
The former corporate headquarters of Banco de Vizcaya is being converted, 50 years later, into Torre Bizkaia. BBVA, the owner of the property at number 1 Gran Vía in Bilbao, has reached an agreement with the investment fund Angelo Gordon to sell it the building for around €100 million.
The sale – which has been subject to negotiations since before the summer – will close within the next few days, according to sources in the sector, and will become the US fund’s largest operation in Spain, where it purchased the Hotel Dolce Sitges in Barcelona from Oaktree a year ago for €40 million.
The new owner already has tenants for the property. In addition to the Irish multi-national textile retailer Primark, which has committed to lease the ground and first five floors for 30 years, the Bilbao local government is going to lease the remaining floors to centralise its provincial services in the tower, which is going to be called Torre Bizkaia.
That move was announced yesterday by the President of Bizkaia, Unai Rementería (…). According to Rementería, BBVA’s departure from the building represented the end of an era, with which the financial weight of Bilbao was extinguished. “Now the provincial government is lighting up the tower again and is starting a new era of new ideas and businesses”, he said.
In addition to the services of the provincial council, the property will house on eight of its floors, an international centre for entrepreneurship, a project promoted by the provincial council and the Town Hall of Bilbao. According to Rementería, those eight floors will be “the heart” of the tower, and through them, they will seek to boost activity, recover economic weight, and reinforce the innovative profile and entrepreneurial spirit of Bilbao and Bizkaia.
The property on Gran Vía was constructed in 1969 as the headquarters of Banco Vizcaya, on the location occupied by the financial institution’s first headquarters. The building has 21 storeys in total, as well as the ground floor, and spans a total above-ground surface area of 23,000 m2.
Following the merger with Banco Bilbao, the BBVA tower housed the operating headquarters of the bank, although the corporate headquarters remained – as it does today – in the former headquarters of Banco Bilbao in Plaza de San Nicolás. In recent years, the financial institution has gradually abandoned the property, which all of the employees left in March 2016.
Original story: Expansión (by M. Á. F.)
Translation: Carmel Drake