Barcelona to Build Social Housing on the Rooftops of Schools & Markets

7 December 2018 – Eje Prime

Barcelona is adding a new twist to its efforts to increase its stock of public housing. The Town Hall of the Catalan capital, governed by Ada Colau, is planning to build social housing units for rent on the rooftops of public buildings such as libraries, markets, schools and even a metro station.

The first test of this new housing model will be carried out in the Gràcia neighbourhood. The Town Hall’s urban planning area is also looking at other areas in the city such as the Gothic neighbourhood, El Raval, Ciutat Vella, Sant Antoni and the Sagrada Family district, according to El País. Another idea that the Town Hall is considering is building flats on top of the Fontana metro station in Gràcia.

The Town Hall is searching for public buildings that have not used up all of their buildability into which to incorporate social housing. The benefit of this model is its speed, given that the procedures would be streamlined by the absence of the need to modify the current urban plan.

This new proposal from the Town Hall of Barcelona forms part of the Housing Plan 2016-2025, which Ada Colau’s government launched two years ago. Another formula that the Town Hall is going to use is Aprop, whereby homes are constructed inside (shipping) containers.

Moreover, this week, Colau received the green light from the Generalitat de Catalunya to establish her star measure involving new-build projects. Barcelona is going to modify its metropolitan general plan (Mgpm) so that 30% of all new build and renovated residential developments must be allocated to social housing.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sevilla’s Municipal Gov’t To Boost Social Housing Stock By 1,000 Over 3 Years

5 October 2017 – Emvisesa

Last week, the mayor of Sevilla, Juan Espadas, together with the delegate for Social Welfare and Employment, Juan Manuel Flores, and the manager of Emvisesa, Felipe Castro, presented the “Strategy for the urgent expansion of the public housing stock (for Sevilla)”, which is aimed at securing at least 1,000 extra homes for rent over the next three years.

These actions will be carried out immediately, whilst the new Municipal Housing Plan for 2018-2024 is being finalised (…).

“We find ourselves with a dismantled Housing Company and an abolished Housing Plan, without any alternatives. We have worked for two years to take different measures and now we are advancing with a housing strategy for Sevilla for the next eight or nine years”, explained the mayor of Sevilla, Juan Espadas.

In this way, the Housing Company, together with the department for Social Welfare and Employment and the Urban Planning team, has designed some immediate steps to expand the stock of public rental homes by 1,000 units over the next three years. This is expected to involve a global budget of around €100 million.

First of all, the Program will be developed through rental housing initiatives (the current tender will be strengthened) and house purchases (a new tender will be held soon). The hope is to obtain around 470 homes through this route.

Secondly, the envelopes for the tender of the Ramón Carande plot will be opened in October. The plan is to obtain resources, land and homes relating to 400 properties in this way in total.

Thirdly, properties owned by the Town Hall and land owned by the Municipal Land Company have been identified for the construction of 520 homes on land in the following areas: Sur, Torreblanca, Macarena, Norte and Carretera de Carmona. Almost all of these sites are available for construction work to be started in the short term.

Financing

To finance this whole operation, as well as resorting to typical bank loans, like for the construction of any other of housing development, the Town Hall of Sevilla is going to make contributions and 230 homes are going to be built, within the same Program, which will go up for sale.

In this way, although 1,215 homes will be constructed in total, 230 will be sold (whereby responding to the demand from 40% of the applicants on the public housing register) to contribute to the financing of the operation as a whole (…).

The strategy will be presented during the first half of October to Emvisesa’s Board of Directors; it will be enriched with any constructive and positive proposals presented; and it will be boosted to begin construction of the homes and the programs to acquire homes in the short term.

Original story: Emvisesa

Translation: Carmel Drake

Madrid’s Town Hall Prepares To Legislate For Tourist Apartments

30 April 2017 – El Confidencial

The Town Hall of Madrid has decided to take the lead regarding the problem of the proliferation of tourist homes in the capital. Although it lacks the power to introduce legislation (that responsibility lies with the Community of Madrid), the Town Hall’s Councillor for Sustainable Urban Development is working towards signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbnb, and the other platforms that operate in the city, to try to put some order to a situation that isn’t showing any signs of letting up. (…).

José Manuel Calvo (pictured above), Councillor for Sustainable Urban Development, plans to have the agreement ready before the end of this legislature.

Specifically, there are three measures that the Town Hall of Madrid is hoping to extrapolate from an example that it has been studying in Amsterdam. The first is “to establish a maximum period of time, be it 60 days, 120 days, etc, that an owner may lease his/her property (home/room) for each year and for the platform to withdraw the property in question from its website, once that quota has been reached, until the following year”.

The second measure involves ensuring that only the owner of a property may lease it out, whereby preventing the involvement of any companies. This will allow “people who need to supplement their mortgage payments, or who need to lease their house to make ends meet, to continue to let out their homes/rooms, but it prevents people from creating tourist accommodation companies without paying taxes, or complying with legislation, etc”.

The crux of the agreement comes in the third measure: “we are considering a tourist tax for tourist homes only, not for hotels, given that hotels already pay taxes, fees, fulfil their obligations etc. Meanwhile, tourist homes do not currently pay any taxes. In other Central European cities, and even in some American cities, some of the landlords’ profits are reinvested in the town, in agreement with the operators”, said Calvo.

With this new revenue stream, the Town Hall could finance the systems of control that it plans to implement to verify that Airbnb and its competitors are complying with the agreed conditions.

But the problem of the touristification or gentrification of the centre of Madrid goes beyond the tourist homes and also affects the proliferation of hotels, to the detriment of residential buildings; another challenge that Calvo wants to tackle by limiting changes of use. (…).

Although he acknowledged that “Madrid faces a very different situation in terms of hotels to Barcelona, Venice and Lisbon (we have 2.7 beds for every 1,000 inhabitants, compared to 8 in Barcelona)”, he also admits that he is worried by the degree of saturation that is starting to be seen in certain neighbourhoods in the centre, where limits do need to start being imposed (…).

“Madrid undoubtedly still has the capacity to increase its hotel and tourist capacity, but, the question is whether that should all be concentrated in the centre, in the same neighbourhoods, where the residential fabric is being pushed out by the increase in hotels and tourist apartments? We don’t think so, we need to diversify. Ideally, they would go towards the Arganzuela district, towards Chamartín, towards Chamberí, to the outskirts, to the other side of the M-30…”.

And it was on this point that Calvo was most belligerent, going as far as to state that he would be willing to set thresholds, to establish limits in those areas where saturation is detected. (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

VIA Outlets Buys 4 European Outlet Centres, Including 1 In Sevilla

25 November 2016 – Real Estate Press

VIA Outlets, the joint venture formed by APG, Hammerson Plc, Meyer Bergman and Value Retail, has signed an agreement to acquire four outlet centres, with a total value of €587 million and an initial yield of 5.5%, in a deal that is pending authorisation by the regulators.

The outlets are located close to major cities in Germany, Portugal, Spain and Poland. This purchase increases the value of VIA Outlets’ portfolio, which comprises ten assets, to €1,100 million, in which Hammerson owns a 47% stake.

Timon Drakesmith, CFO of Hammerson Plc and Chairman of VIA Outlets’ Advisory Committee, said: “This is a rare opportunity to acquire these four outlet centres in an off-market operation”.

“The European markets are very well positioned and are continuing to experience strong sales growth, supported by improved supply and an increase in the number of tourists across Europe”.

VIA Outlets has identified opportunities to boost sales growth and revenues from the operation, through a change in the commercial mix and the implementation of various marketing and tourism initiatives.

To support the portfolio increase, the organisational structure of VIA Outlets has been improved through external hires to expand the asset management, marketing and finance teams. The estimated IRR for the assets acquired is 11% over five years. (…).

In Spain, the JV has acquired the outlet located in the north east of Sevilla, which attracts a growing number of tourists visiting Andalucía. The outlet has a surface area of 16,400 m2, and is home to 65 brands, including Tommy Hilfiger, Mango, Polo Ralph Lauren and Adidas. Its annual sales amount to €3,600 per m2. (…).

Original story: Real Estate Press

Translation: Carmel Drake