16 February 2015 – El Confidencial
All eyes are focused on one plot of land in Madrid. A plot of land, which the Treasury purchased from a group of nuns for 800 million pesetas in 1985, could now, three decades later, be sold for several million euros. It is one of the largest and rarest gems left in Madrid and many of the large housing cooperatives have already expressed interest. These same cooperatives were responsible for some of the most talked about transactions in the country last year; and this deal would allow them to offer hundreds of low cost homes in the centre of Madrid, just a few metres from the Paseo de la Castellana, something that was unthinkable a few years ago.
The plot measures just over 15,000 square metres and is located at the intersection of Calles Padre Damián and Fray Bernardino Sahagún, very close to the Castellana and ten minutes away from the Santiago Bernabeu stadium and the Torres KIO. It is owned by State Heritage (Patrimonio del Estado), which in turn reports to the Treasury (Ministerio de Hacienda). The land has its own history…it used to house a convent, which was demolished shortly after the plot was acquired by the Government. Three decades later…., the plot may come back onto the market in a perfect transaction for the public coffers, thanks to the increase in land values during the intervening period.
Nevertheless, before the plot is auctioned, some administrative hurdles will need to be overcome to change its intended use. The State Heritage department has proposed a one-off amendment to the General Urban Plan for Madrid because, for this land to be attractive in the market, and for the Treasury to obtain the maximum price for its sale, its use must be residential; currently it may only be used for the collective services of the Public Administration. (…)
This one-off amendment is awaiting provisional approval by the Town Hall of Madrid and definitive approval by the Community of Madrid, according to sources from the Treasury who say that until this happens, the plot will not be put up for sale. (…)
Under the spotlight of the management cooperatives
“The size of the plot, its location, its environment, its intended suitability for construction, its scope, the potential appeal of the project that could be developed makes this plot of land a clear target that is going to generate a lot of interest”, said Leopoldo Morena, the CEO of the Ibosa Group, the cooperative manager that was responsible for one of the most important land transactions in the capital last year, when it was awarded ownership of Metro de Madrid’s depots in Cuatro Caminos for €88 million. That project, Residencial Metropolitan, which will bring more than 400 homes onto the market, with prices upwards of €2,600 per square metre, has almost all been sold (95%).
Nevertheless, the operation of the year was, without a doubt, the sale of a plot of land on Calle Raimundo Fernández Villaverde by the Ministry of Defence in a bid that was won by the cooperative manager Domo. Its offer for €111 million exceeded those made by Ferrovial, Pryconsa and Construcciones Amenabar; all of the homes in the development have already been sold. The sales price of the 355 homes was expected to start at €3,300 per square mete.
These two transactions boosted the market in 2014. According to data from the real estate consultant Irea, transactions involving land in Spain amounted to €346 million last year, which represented just 4% of the total investment in the market. A low percentage, however, in 2013, there weren’t any transactions involving land above five million euro, the threshold that Irea uses to prepare its analysis of investment in Spain (and so the deals closed in 2014 did represent a move in the right direction).
“Transactions such as the one in Calle Raimundo Fernández Villaverde, the Metro de Madrid and more recently, Amenabar’s purchase of various plots of land from Sareb, without financing, were unthinkable a few years ago”, explains Mikel Echavarren, the CEO at Irea.
In his opinion, the main players that may sign land-related transactions in Spain this year will continue to be domestic companies, developers and cooperatives, which are capable of financing their land purchases with their own funds: “There are scarcely six companies in Spain at the moment with sufficient financial capacity to finance land purchases”….
The role of international investment funds in the direct purchase of land will be practically zero, but they will be involved in the acquisition of portfolios of debt that contain land or residential developments as underlying collateral.
The plot of land in Madrid has also attracted interest from prospective house buyers, as evidenced by the fact that some managers have received requests from more than 2,000 interested parties. And it is no wonder: if the land falls back into the hands of cooperatives, they may build homes right in the centre of Madrid at very competitive prices, especially compared with those in private developments, such as the one that will start soon in Calle Juan Bravo, 3, where the prices of the luxury homes that are going to be built on the site may reach €9,000 per square metre, significantly higher than the less than €4,000 per sqm being charged by both the Ibosa Group and Domo Gestora for their recent acquisitions in Madrid.
Original story: El Confidencial (by Elena Sanz)
Translation: Carmel Drake