10 October 2018 – El Correo
Thanks to the significant investments carried out in recent years, the investment fund Hispania has become the largest hotel group in Spain. It has outperformed traditional companies in the sector such as Meliá, HI Hoteles and Hoteles Globales in terms of the number of establishments and rooms. At the height of its expansion phase, boosted at the end of last year by the purchase of the Alua chain – which saw it acquire seven resorts in the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands for €165 million – it has set its sights on Bilbao. Just a week after another high-profile fund, the Madrid-based Millenium Group announced its intention to convert Banco Santander’s headquarters on Gran Vía into a luxury hotel, Plaza Circular is now going to witness the transformation of one of the Bizcayan capital’s most iconic buildings: the site that formerly housed Café La Granja.
The hostelry establishment, which started life on 31 July 1926 and which was acquired by the real estate firm Navarra Fitbox two years ago, has been closed since 8 February 2017 when, unexpectedly, it pulled down its shutters for the very last time. The insurance company Helvetia sold the property for almost €7.5 million. After 90 years of uninterrupted activity, the historical café has only re-opened its doors since then on a sporadic basis to host one-off events of a cultural nature, such as book fairs. The offices and insurance companies that used to occupy the upper five floors have been evicted, starting back in 2010 (…).
Hispania is going to strengthen the hotel supply in Bilbao, which is experiencing a genuine frenzy, with the planned opening of seven new properties over the medium term. The fund has been planning its debut in the town for a while, but its intentions have always focused on this area, which will draw a new Bilbao with the arrival of the fashion giant Primark and the launch of the Regional Government’s international entrepreneurship centre in the former BBVA tower, which was sold for €100 million two weeks ago. The arrival of the AVE and the strong commercial positioning have pushed up prices considerably in this area. Like in the case of the building work to be carried out on the site of Santander’s former headquarters, the transformation of La Granja will have to be approved by the Town Hall’s Heritage Committee, which has not yet assessed the project, given that it is an artistic building. That procedure may be completed this month (…).
Original story: El Correo
Translation: Carmel Drake