ECI Sells Building On Plaza Catalunya For €17M

9 February 2016 – Expansión

The department store group has ruled out the expansion of its store on Plaza Catalunya because it has been unable to buy the building next door and so it has sold its property on Calle Fontanella, number 9.

El Corte Inglés has abandoned its expansion plans for Plaza Catalunya. The building that the department store group acquired in 2004 on Calle Fontanella, with the aim of extending its store, has been sold for €17 million to a Russian investor who plans to convert it into a hotel.

The property, which has not been used for more than a decade, is located at number 9, Calle Fontanella and is separated from El Corte Inglés store on Plaza Catalunya by another building. The group chaired by Dimas Gimeno acquired it thinking that it would also be able to buy the property located at numbers 5-7 and adjoin the two buildings onto its department store. Nevertheless, following years of negotiations with the owner (then CatalunyaCaixa), the building was eventually acquired by Caboel, the property company of the former owners of Caprabo, who renovated it and converted into a hotel operated by Room Mate.

The location of this El Corte Inglés store, in the heart of Plaza Catalunya, means that it can only be expanded through the purchase of neighbouring properties. The expansion project began to take shape more than ten years ago, thanks to Catalunya’s Commercial Facilities Sector Territorial Plan for the period 2006-2009, which allowed it to increase its net sales area by 5,000 m2.

The building at number 9, Calle Fontanella was acquired from Banco Sabadell for €17 million, which means that, a decade later, and given the impossibility of adjoining it onto its existing store, the department store group has recovered its original spend.

The purchaser of the building is a conglomerate of investors, which, according to real estate sources, are Russian and intend to convert the property into a hotel.

Its surface area (3,200 m2), wide façade and central location make the conversion of the property into a tourist establishment an ideal option, but the operation has been signed in the middle of the hotel moratorium. As such, the investors will have to wait until the mayoress of Barcelona, Ada Colau, establishes the new urban planning rules for tourist accommodation, which will determine the neighbourhoods in which new establishments may be constructed.

Original story: Expansión (by Marisa Anglés)

Translation: Carmel Drake