Edificio España: Renovation Prohibited So Wanda May Sell

13 January 2016 – Expansión

The Chinese company Dalian Wanda is considering putting the iconic Edificio España building on the market. It acquired the property from Santander for €265 million in 2014, but is not being allowed to completely renovate it and convert it into a luxury hotel, with a retail space and homes.

The group founded and led by Wang Jianlin wanted to pull down the tower, located in Plaza de España (Madrid) and reconstruct its façade with a design that is identical to the current one, however the new Town Hall of Madrid, led by Manuela Carmena, has rejected those plans, on the basis that the façade must be protected as it forms part of the city’s artistic heritage.

After months of fruitless negotiations between the Asian company and the Town Hall to begin the construction work, Wanda has now decided to sell the building, according to several sources consulted by this newspaper.

As a preliminary step, Wanda Madrid Development has decided to close the office that it opened in the Spanish capital to carry out the remodelling of the iconic building, which has stood empty for many years.

Following the commotion caused by the plans set out by Jianlin, the wealthiest businessman in Asia, the Town Hall of Madrid said yesterday that it was not aware of any plans for the building to be sold.

Meanwhile, the PP’s spokesperson at the Town Hall, Esperanza Aguirre, asked the municipal Government to “think twice” and allow Wanda to demolish and reconstruct Edificio España from scratch, because losing the investment (opportunity) and the jobs that would result from the Asian group’s plans would have “very serious consequences”. The spokesperson for Cuidadanos, Begoña Villacís warned that, if the decision is confirmed “Madrid could become an investment desert” since it is “a city with lots of development projects on the table and investment opportunities that we must not miss out on”.


Despite the disagreements, Dalian Wanda, which also paid €45 million for a 20% stake in Atlético de Madrid last year, reaffirmed “its commitment” to “the citizens of Madrid” in October last year, as well as to the restoration of an “icon of the urban landscape”. The group confirmed that it was willing to hold “open and transparent dialogue, provided safety and the law are put first above everything else”.

At the end of November, the councillor for Urban Planning at the Town Hall, José Manuel Calvo, confirmed that the plans were moving ahead to enable the renovation work to start “as soon as possible”, although the administrative procedures must first be completed.

Madrid’s local historic heritage committee issued a binding ruling, which resolved that the façade must not be demolished or dismantled, but Wanda insisted that maintaining such a tall façade during the renovation work would be unsafe, which is why the company proposed that it be dismantled and then reconstructed.

Original story: Expansión (by R.R./A.F.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

IESE: Demand For New Homes In Madrid Will Reach 20,000 In 2019

2 June 2015 – El Mundo

At a conference organised by the College of Civil Engineers before the local elections, Manuela Carmena, who will become the mayoress of the capital provided Esperanza Aguirre does not stand in her way, ruled out Operación Chamartín as a significant objective: “I do not think that we need 17,500 homes, we will talk about that again in 2017 or 2018, but not now”.

Her comments are interesting because just a few days later, professor José Luis Suárez, of IESE, has claimed that, during 2015 and 2016, demand for new housing in the metropolitan area of Madrid will reach 14,000 units and in 2017 alone, it will reach 13,000. Suárez is one of the foremost experts in the Spanish real estate market and during the annual symposium of the Center for International Finance (CIF), he presented the preliminary results of a study about the evolution of demand for new homes in Spain until 2028.

Suárez and his team of researchers are building a model to allow them to predict the demand for new homes in nine large Spanish urban areas. The model is driven by several factors, including the reduction in the number of people per household; financing; the rate of obsolescence of homes in use; the demand for replacement; the acquisition of second homes; employment; investment in housing; the preference for new housing; renovations; the declining population; the over-stock of housing; and rentals.

Although Spain’s “demographic winter” may lead us to expect a decrease in the number of homes, as well as in their average size, the calculations performed by Suárez for the Madrid area show that demand for new homes will reach 20,000 units in 2019. This quantity would mean demand returning to the levels last seen in 2009-2010, years when the trend lines between the purchase of new homes and the supply of new homes intersected. At the height of the bubble, in 2006, more than 40,000 new homes were sold in Madrid and during that same year, more than 60,000 units were constructed.

In fact, the excess stock of housing in Madrid is practically non-existent now. There is still excess supply in Spain, but not in places where demand is high.

Urban planning is one of the areas that the local politicians enjoy the most and where Carmena is undertaking a detailed program. She is committed to renovating and supporting operations in deprived neighbourhoods, such as the so called Operación Campamento, which is sponsored by Chinese capital. Although critics accuse the plans of being neoliberal since they serve individual interests, the fact is that urban planning is anti-liberal by definition and is fertile territory for commercialism.


Original story: El Mundo (by John Müller)

Translation: Carmel Drake