3 February 2017 – Expansión
Banco Popular’s headquarters on Paseo de Gràcia in Barcelona is about to change hands, in one of the first major operations of the year in the real estate sector in the Catalan capital.
The US company Hines is holding advanced negotiations to acquire the building, in a process that has been well attended by other players in the sector. The contract between the current owner and Hines will be signed within the next few days. The 6-storey property, which has a surface area of 4,000 m2, was constructed at the beginning of the 1960s and is home to Banco Popular’s headquarters in the city, as well as to its regional head office.
According to sources in the sector, the real estate company Hines – which was one of the finalists in the bid for Edificio España in Madrid – will pay around €80 million for Popular’s headquarters in Barcelona.
The building, located at number 11 on Paseo de Gràcia, next to the Barcelona Stock Exchange, came onto the market months ago, during one of the most tumultuous years in the bank’s history, which also coincided with the reactivation of the real estate sector, especially the in the major cities, such as Madrid and Barcelona.
According to various sources, Hines plans to convert the bank’s Barcelona headquarters into a building that can be used for commercial purposes. Its location, on Paseo de Gràcia and very close to Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, makes it ideal for conversion into a flagship megastore for a major fashion brand. In fact, the Swedish fashion chain H&M will open one of its largest stores in the world in the Generali Building today, which is on the other side of Gran Via, and just opposite, is one of the largest Zara stores in Spain. Moreover, at the intersection of Paseo de Gràcia and Gran Via, the Japanese brand Uniqlo is continuing work to open a huge store, its first in the Spanish market.
The possibility of converting Popular’s headquarters into a hotel has been ruled out following the approval of the tourist accommodation plan by the Town Hall of Barcelona – preceded by a long moratorium -, which prevents the construction of new hotel establishments in the centre of the city.
Some sources indicate that Popular has a year to vacate its current headquarters. The bank could move its main office in Barcelona to another site on the same street, on the corner with Calle Aragón, to the lower floors of the building where Banco Pastor used to house its regional head office in Cataluña.
Original story: Expansión (by R. Ruiz and J. Orihuel)
Translation: Carmel Drake