23 October 2017 – Expansión
Ada Colau is pushing ahead with her mission to recover residential buildings for the citizens of Barcelona. Her most recent battle has seen her conquer Renta Corporación, one of the traditional real estate companies dedicated to the purchase of old buildings in El Eixample and the subsequent rescission of contracts with tenants, with the aim of renovating and selling the properties. The Town Hall has exerted its right of first refusal for the building located at number 394 on Calle Còrsega in Barcelona, between Bruc and Girona, for which it has paid €5.85 million.
For its purchase of the building, Ada Colau’s Government has argued that the operation comes in response to “extraordinary and urgent measures to mobilise homes resulting from mortgage foreclosure processes”, together with “measures to protect the right to housing for people at risk of social exclusion”.
The Town Hall’s intention is to hand over the building, free of charges, to Patronat Municipal d’Habitatge so that it can be used as homes for social purposes.
The right of first refusal and withdrawal is a practice included in the Housing Law that the Parlament approved in 2007, although its use had been rare until now. It received a boost following the election of Ada Colau as mayor of the Catalan capital in June 2015.
The most recent balance reported by the municipal government includes the first year and a half of the mandate. In that regard, the Town Hall applied the right of first refusal and withdrawal in 87 of the 154 homes that it acquired.
Those figures have increased this year with several operations in that vein. The most significant deals have taken place at number 7, 9 and 11 on Calle Lancaster and number 37 on Calle Leiva.
In the first case, the Town Hall spent €5.65 million buying 41 homes spread over three blocks. In the second case, it paid €2.75 million to Anida – a subsidiary of BBVA – to avoid the sale of the block to a fund.
The municipal government also exercised its right of first refusal and withdrawal this summer to buy three plots of land on the former La Escocesa factory premises, in Poblenou, for €10.11 million. The hundreds of luxury homes that were planned for those plots are no longer going to be built, with social housing properties and facilities now planned for the site instead.
The housing plan that the plenary approved at the beginning of the year includes modalities that go beyond constructing new blocks for rent-protected and social housing homes. They include continuing with the acquisition of homes from financial institutions or their transfer for a period of time, buying blocks in neighbourhoods where the urban fabric is consolidated – such as in Calle Còrsega – and exploring co-housing: the transfer of homes at below-market prices for between 50 and 100 years.
Original story: Expansión (by M. Anglés and D. Casals)
Translation: Carmel Drake