BBVA Gets Ready To Reactivate ‘Operación Chamartín’

14 September 2016 – Expansión

Antonio Béjar, the Chairman of Distrito Castellana Norte, the company owned by BBVA and Sanjosé, has criticised Manuela Carmena’s team for “turning their backs on locals” and not thinking about Madrilenians.

Operación Chamartín reached a deadlock in May, when the Town Hall of Madrid, with votes from Ahora Madrid and PSOE, decided to deal a blow to Distrito Castellana Norte’s project and present an alternative option, which is unlikely to prosper, as it faces the outright refusal of the Community of Madrid and the Ministry of Development.

One of the biggest victims in this lethargy is DCN, which has seen how a project that had been fallow for decades and that seemed to be on the verge of progressing, following the approval of the final general town plan (PGOU) and the apparent acceptance of the parties involved, is now in danger of becoming little more than ink and paper following the arrival of Manuela Carmena’s municipal government.

Despite the circumstances, the Chairman of DCN, Antonio Béjar (pictured above), said in an interview with Expansión, that he feels “more encouraged than ever”. “This is an initiative that affects 500,000 people (i.e. the citizens who live in and around the affected areas). “We have always thought that it would be impossible to undertake this project behind people’s backs. For this reason, right from the start, we employed means and made efforts to get people to participate and contribute ideas”, explained Béjar.

The Director also explained that, in the face of the flood of suggestions and information requests received, they decided to open an office in Fuencarral a few months ago, and they plan to open at least two more – in Las Tablas and Chamartín – with the aim of maintaining an “open and permanent dialogue with people”. Béjar hopes that the municipal Government will reconsider its decision given the response from locals. “The Town Hall’s blockade against our project is very unpopular”, he said.

Similarly, the Chairman of DCN hopes to be able to resume talks with the Town hall and the other bodies involved to remedy the situation and whereby share the property developers “negotiating spirit”. Nevertheless, he warns that red lines exist, which are not going to be ignored. “We are not willing to be the sponsor of a project that lacks ambition or is associated with low quality. Moreover, we represent investors that have a duty to not, cannot and will not invest in projects that do not have appropriate returns”.

For the Director, the plan proposed by the Town Hall is a “very poor initiative”. “The administrations do not have the resources necessary to cover works that require billions of euros. They propose that the public sector bears the business risk, either through taxes or other items of social spending and they force citizens to pretend that they are entrepreneurs”.

Béjar fears that the unmovable attitude of the Town Hall will continue, at least until a new national Government is formed. “Political priorities should not take precedence over technical matters. We have not even been allowed to negotiate with the Town Hall”.

In the same way, he points out that the concession of land from Adif expires on 31 December and that the option to extend the period “is not currently on the table”. “We cannot keep investing forever without any signs of returns”, he noted.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Operación Calderón: More Social Housing But No Skyscrapers

4 July 2016 – Expansión

The buildability ratio has been reduced by 16% / The new proposals reflect a lower buildability ratio, with an average building height of eight storeys, and a larger transfer of land to the town hall, which will be dedicated in tis entirety to social housing.

Operación Calderón is back on the public agenda once again. The Town Hall of Madrid, together with the owners of the land – Atlético de Madrid football club and the beer company Mahou San Miguel – have agreed new plans for the site, which include reducing the buildability ratio by 16%, decreasing the average height of the buildings, and transferring more land to the Town Hall, which will be used for the construction of social housing. The plan must be presented to the Town Hall before it is approved.

“We have managed to launch a project that has gone through a difficult period, thanks to a better system of working. This has included listening, collaboration and the capacity to yield and seek the common good”, said the mayoress of Madrid, Manuela Carmena.

According to the new proposal, the total buildability area has been decreased from 175,000 sqm to 147,000 sqm, i.e. 16.15% less, and the average height of the buildings has been reduced from 20 storeys to eight.

Of the total buildability, around 129,000 sqm will be dedicated to homes. The representative of the Town Hall of Madrid’s Sustainable Urban Development department, José Manuel Calvo, explained that all of the 10% of the land transferred to the Town Hall will be reserved for social housing, which will allow it to “carry out the social housing policies supported by the city’s Government”.

The new plans also increase the size of the green spaces from 54,600 sqm to 79,900 sqm, and of the new facilities from 10,00 sqm to 12,800 sqm. The Town Hall has explained that the plans reflect “most” of the demands made by the neighbourhood associations of Arganzuela and will be subjected to a process of “public consultation for citizens and entities to offer their suggestions”.


In terms of placing the M-30 underground, the Town Hall will bear the cost of the integration of this stretch by offering “alternative solutions with much lower costs”. The Town Hall plans to cover part of the motorway, which would cost between €50 million and €60 million, compared with the projected cost of €140 million or €150 million associated with the previous plans.

The presentation of the agreement – which had initially been planed for 22 June, but which was postponed until after the elections – was attended by the President of Atlético de Madrid, Enrique Cerezo and the Director of Mahou San Miguel’s land business unit, Paloma Boceta. Cerezo said that next season will be Atlético’s last playing at the Calderón, before the club moves to La Peineta. “We have been working on this project for ten years. I hope that we will be able to close the deal some time soon, so as to to enjoy our new stadium and so that Madrid can benefit from a wonderful area in the centre of the city”, he added.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake