Colau Launches A Plan To Become The Largest Housing Developer In Barcelona

15 February 2016 – El Confidencial

The plan of Barcelona Mayoress of “Barcelona en Comú” is very ambitious: to promote a large park of affordable rental flats during his tenure, a public investment of around 500 million.

Ada Colau wants to change the game rules.  And housing development will be field chosen to do it, consistent with her past as an activist of the Platform of People Affected by Mortgage  And housing development is the field chosen to do it, consistent with her past as an activist of the People Affected by Mortages Platform (PAH). The plan is very ambitious: building 2,365 homes during his tenure, a public investment of around EUR 500 million and which would be taken on by Barcelona Municipal Housing Agency, a City Council´s body. With the project start, Colau will become the biggest Barcelona promoter.

The plan, to which “El Confidencial” has had access El Confidencial, is being currently presented by the new Manager of the Housing Agency, Javier Burón, in multiple rounds with developers, entrepreneurs and different social agents. Barcelona City Council, one of the few in Spain with a surplus, has sufficient funds to do it But as the project points out, funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB) is planned to be used to create a public park of rental housing in Barcelona similar to that of any European city. The EU rental home average is around 15% in an medium sized city. In Barcelona, this percentage is only around 1.5%.

Given that in 2015 all private developers built 3,000 homes in the Catalan capital, a drive this size would make the City Council become teh first Real Estate engine in the city.

Out of the 2,365 homes Ada Colau wants to promotr, almost 800 homes are already being built, by the Agency, most of them (a total of 105)  in Glòries district. Of the remainder, some 518 are in the process of getting licensed, half of them in the district of Sant Andreu.

And the rest is Colau´s flagship project: 10 real estate developments in the same number of sites, of which the City Council´s Agency will take care.
This part totals 1,145 homes spread over ten areas, defined in Buron´s  draft as “public and affordable land in the metropolitan area of Barcelona”.

Free Trade Zone commitment

Colau´s bet for the free zone is clear. Of the new projects, two promotions add 534 homes for the new Marina District in that part of town to be started.

But the new housing is only part of the bet, although the most important from the point of view of the City Council economic effort. Colau also plans taking measures such as a “future housing mapping and mobilization (empty homes) to guide them towards an affordable rent”, “bargaining, purchasing and refusal and preemptive rights with financial institutions” and apply a “procedure of penalties and tax measures against underuse “, e.g. penalizing empty flats, as stated in the project named ‘The local public action in Barcelona housing’.

As reflected in a study conducted in April 2015, in Barcelona there are 31,200 empty homes, of which about 2,592 are owned by financial institutions, appearing in the registry created by the “Generalitat”, as evidenced on Colau´s draft. The Mayoress wants to reach agreements with banks to transfer these properties in order to be also used in social rent.

Original story: Expansion (by Marcos Lamelas)

Translation: Aura Ree