27 September 2017 – El Confidencial
An urban planning setback for the real estate arm of the French insurance company AXA. The Town Hall of Madrid has scuppered the company’s plans to convert the former Cines Rex into a retail space, by declaring inadmissible both the modification to the Special Plan for the building located on Calle Gran Vía, number 43 Bis, as well as the Special Plan for Environmental Urban Planning Control for Uses of the property. The first of these instruments is used to process the change of use for buildings, whilst the latter is an urban planning instrument aimed at evaluating “the incidence that the implementation of a certain use may have on the urban environment and on the characteristics of the space that it inhabits, prior to the concession of the licence”, according to the Official Gazette of the Town Hall of Madrid.
It is worth remembering that the building has Level 1 protection, which means that the owner has an obligation to protect both the façade and the interior, and from therein arises the need to approve both urban planning procedures.
The Town Hall’s decision represents a major setback for the French insurance company, which reached an agreement to acquire the building that houses Hotel Rex and the historical cinemas of the same name for around €42 million at the end of 2015 (…).
AXA had planned to remodel the building, which has a surface area of 9,000 m2, and operate it by combining the hotel use – which it already held – with retail, the use that was reserved for cinemas, whose protected nature the insurance company was willing to respect, even though the space, measuring 700 m2, had been in disuse for several years. Sources at the company assure El Confidencial that “the project for the Rex building is going ahead as planned and on time. We are holding conversations with the Town Hall of Madrid to undertake certain modifications as part of the operations usually involved in these types of large projects” (…).
According to the sources consulted, the French insurance company had planned to convert the cinema into a large retail space to house a flagship store, in a similar style to Primark, a few doors along on the same street. In terms of the hotel side, Room Mate Hotels, the hotel chain owned by Kike Sarasola, reached an agreement with AXA at the beginning of this year to operate the iconic Hotel Rex. (…). The chain’s objective is to undertake a remodelling of the property, with the aim of inaugurating the new hotel, which will comprise 130 rooms and create 45 jobs, between the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 (…).
Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Sanz)
Translation: Carmel Drake