Castellana Norte Wants To Become The New “City” Post-Brexit

20 October 2016 – Expansión

BBVA and the San José group are refusing to throw in the towel on their plans to construct the Castellana Norte urban development (previously known as Operación Chamartín). To this end, the heads of the company Distrito Castellana Norte have engaged the real estate consultancy firm Colliers to perform a study, which will delve into the need for Madrid to have a new supply of offices and high quality residential properties.

“Madrid is a very attractive business centre, with good infrastructure and security, but there is clearly a lack of high quality products on the market at the moment, because the market has grown in a heterogeneous way and the stock of available offices is extremely poor compared to the centres of other European cities”, explained Antonio Pan de Soraluce, the Director General at Colliers International España.

Sources at the consultancy firm highlight the opportunity that exists to turn Madrid into a international destination of choice and to become the new “City” in Europe. “Projects such as Castellana Norte are very attractive because companies are becoming increasingly demanding about where they locate their offices. We have an opportunity not only because of Brexit, but also because we are a very attractive location for companies from Latin America looking to open offices in Europe”, said Pan de Soraluce”.

20% of the total surface area (more than 3 million m2) in Distrito Castellana Norte will be allocated to offices, homes and businesses, whilst the remainder will be used for infrastructure and communal space.

International comparisons

The project has very low buildability ratios when compared with other similar urban planning projects around the world. “We have studied 200 projects, of which 14 are similar, given that they also involve the regeneration of obsolete railway and port infrastructures, and we have identified that Castellana Norte has the third lowest buildability coefficient of them all”.

Projects assessed included La Défense in París, Canary Wharf in London and Postdamper Pl. in Berlín. All of those projects received institutional support and some even benefitted from public financing. That is something that is not happening with the Town Hall of Madrid, against whom the property developer company has filed an appeal for cancelling the project that was planned initially. The Community of Madrid and the Ministry of Development have supported DCN’s appeal, given that they own most of the land where the project was due to be constructed.

To date, the company owned by BBVA and San José has invested more than €120 million on the Castellana Norte development.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Operación Chamartín: Carmena Cuts Homes & Offices By 50%

10 May 2016 – El País

On Tuesday, the mayoress of Madrid, Manuela Carmena will present her plans “to boost the development of the north of the city”, an “open document” prepared by municipal technicians, which amends and reduces the plans for Operación Chamartín. After working on the project for almost a year and refusing to negotiate with BBVA or San José, the Town Hall is effectively burying Distrito Castellana Norte. The Town Hall’s alternative plan, to which El País has had access to, maintains the buildability coefficient, but removes all of the roads and railways from the planned surface area calculations, which Distrito Castellana had taken into account. In this way, the profitable surface area for homes (17,000 were going to be built) and offices is cut in half. Carmena proposes undertaking the renovation of Chamartín train station, the Northern junction (Nudo Norte) and Fuencarral immediately, using public money, and taking Pasillo Verde (which runs from Atocha to Principe Pío) as an example.

Distrito Castellana Norte, the private project promoted by BBVA (75.5%) and the construction company San José (24.5%) forecasts investing €5,974 million to rebuild the 3,114,336 sqm area.

But the local government believes that the initiative should “be the responsibility of the Administration”, particularly given the dimensions of the area (311 hectares; by way of comparison, the Centro district covers 523 hectares). Thus, the Town Hall proposes “more weight in the public management” in the “largest town planning operation in Madrid”. And to this end, it proposes “the creation of a public urban consortium to develop the area to the south of the M-30”, leaving the initiative to the north of the motorway in the hands of private property developers.

BBVA and San José plan to extend the Paseo de la Castellana by 3.7 km to the north, and to construct 17,699 homes and a financial district with the tallest skyscraper in the European Union (70 floors), as well as five other towers, similar in height to the four towers already in place (45-57 floors). For this, they plan to apply a buildability coefficient of 1.05 sqm for every metre of land, thanks to the increase approved by the PP (before, that figure stood at 0.6).

The Northern junction and Fuencarral

The Town Hall’s plans respect that building density, but “exclude land relating to the road and railway networks from the calculations, as well as all land that is not necessary to undertake the operation or whose transformation is not planned”. As such, it would leave 1,440,387 sqm of space occupied by the M-30, the M-40 and railway infrastructure out of the operation, and instead proposes “continuing with its current use and rating”.

After these exclusions, the total surface area of the operation would be reduced to 1,744,549 sqm (of which 233,082 sqm correspond to Chamartín train station.

Therefore, applying the buildability coefficient, there would be 1,587,040 sqm of space for residential and commercial use. This would reduce the private project by half, which had calculated that there would be 3,261,000 sqm of profitable space (1,774,000 sqm for homes; 1,046,000 sqm for offices; 165,000 sqm for hotels; and 176,000, sqm for retail).


Original story: El País (by Bruno García Gallo)

Translation: Carmel Drake