Iberostar will Add 1,500 Rooms to its Portfolio in 2019

24 January 2019 – Expansión

Grupo Iberostar is continuing with its expansion plans and intends to add seven new hotels to its portfolio this year, containing 1,500 rooms in five countries. The new establishments will open in Palma de Mallorca and Madrid, in Spain; in Monastir and Sousse, in Tunisia, where the Spanish hotel chain already has a presence; as well as in Istanbul (Turkey), Rome (Italy) and Lagos (Portugal), where the group will make its debut.

The company, which opened 13 establishments last year, explained that 2019 is going to be “key” for the consolidation of the projects it has underway in Los Cabos and Litibú (Mexico) and for others, which are more advanced, in destinations such as Montenegro, Aruba, Albania and Cuba.

The chain, which is owned by the Fluxá family, owned 96 hotels around the world containing 31,720 rooms at the end of 2018. In Spain, the company owned 35 hotels and 9,888 rooms at the end of last year.

In terms of operational data, Iberostar closed 2018 with revenues of €2.659 billion, which represented an increase of 9% YoY, and it created around 4,000 jobs (…).

Original story: Expansión (by R.A.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

CaixaBank & Allianz Grant a €135M Loan to Finance Caleido

20 November 2018 – Expansión

CaixaBank and Allianz have granted a €135 million loan to finance the construction and operational launch of Caleido, a project led by Inmobiliario Espacio, the property developer of the Villar Mir Group, and MegaWorld Corporation, the business conglomerate owned by the Philippine multi-millionaire Andrew Tan.

Caleido, which will constitute the so-called Fifth Tower in Madrid, is going to comprise a vertical 35-storey building, which will contain the facilities of Instituto de Empresa, and a second horizontal building at the base comprising four above ground floors and standing 17 metres tall in which Quirón Salud is going to manage an advanced medical centre. Moreover, Caleido is going to include an extensive commercial and services area, as well as lots of green space for Madrid and its citizens.

The loan, which has a 10-year term, will finance the construction period until the hand over of the property, in the final quarter of 2020, as well as seven years of operation.

The property developers have explained that the aforementioned agreement will cover the financing needs of Caleido, with a total estimated investment of approximately €300 million.

“This operation strengthens the confidence that financial institutions have in the project and the great expectations that are being generated around its construction. In this way, the technical solvency of the project is clear, as is its future management and operation”, said the property developers.

Caleido – designed by the architecture studios Fenwick & Iribarren and Serrano Suñer Arquitectos – will be located in the epicentre of the new financial district of Madrid and will serve to eliminate a scar from the north of the Spanish capital, connecting Paseo de la Castellana and Anida de Monforte de Lemos, as well as revitalising the current business complex.

The project is being built on some plots owned by the Town Hall of Madrid, granted to Espacio Caleido through a concession arrangement for the construction and operation of the project for the next 75 years. In exchange, Espacio Caleido will pay an annual fee of €4 million. The launch of Project Caleido will generate around 2,400 jobs during the construction period and another 3,992 jobs once it is operational.

Original story: Expansión (by R.A.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Construction Costs Soar & Feed the ‘Boom’ in House Prices

9 September 2018 – El Confidencial

“A year and a half ago, I asked for a quote from a small construction company for a building project in Leganés. I drafted the plans, obtained the permit from the Town Hall and when I spoke to the construction company again about starting the work, they quoted me 35% more than we had originally agreed. It was crazy. And something similar has just happened on another project in Móstoles. I signed a building contract with another construction company two months ago, the work starts next week, but they can’t stick to the price we agreed because they can’t manage to hire workers for that price”.

The speaker is a property developer from Madrid, who prefers to remain anonymous so as to not generate hostility amongst construction companies. Over the last few months, he has suffered as a result of the significant rise in construction costs. There are severe labour shortages, which are causing prices to rise, given that the cost of construction materials, although increasing slightly, has remained much more stable.

The increase of 35% is not generalised across Spain, but it is starting to become quite frequent in cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Málaga where real estate activity has recovered more strongly than in other parts of the country, according to the experts consulted.

To give us an idea, according to a study prepared at the beginning of the year by ACR Grupo, residential construction costs have risen by 17.5% in the last 24 months, and by 12% in the last year alone. After 2007, and coinciding with the crisis, those costs decreased by 20% and remained almost flat for more than five years until two years ago, when the long lethargy was finally broken.

This higher cost of labour has a direct impact on house prices. According to the experts consulted, a 40% increase in construction costs results in a 20% rise in house prices. And, if the price of land represents around 35% of the total cost of the construction, then construction costs now account for around 50%. “Why do you think that prices are rising so quickly in Madrid and Barcelona? The price of land is soaring and now this unexpected enemy has arrived on the scene”, said the same developer.

In the Spanish capital, prices are out of control in certain areas, with price rises of up to 20%. “…”. “Within a given development, a home that used to cost €400,000 is now being sold for almost €500,000. The increases are not only due to the fact that there is a lot of demand and limited supply, but also because if the properties aren’t sold at those prices, then the project is not profitable. Some of the listed property developers have already warned that they will not be capable of building as many homes as they had planned. We will see in a few months time whether they are going to be able to fulfil their sales forecasts”, add sources from a construction company.

Although property developers have recognised this problem publicly for months, they are also convinced that it has gotten worse over the last nine months (…).

Destruction of the production fabric

The lack of skilled labour is evident. Plumbers, framers, electricians, bricklayers, etc…And like in any market, scarcity causes increases. Many of those who used to earn their living building homes at the height of the boom have changed jobs or left the country and have no intention of returning.

The figures speak for themselves. In 2008, the year the bubble burst, 600,000 new homes were completed in Spain. Now, that number barely reaches 50,000 units. Moreover, that decrease in activity has led to the disappearance of more than 12,600 companies linked to the sector since 2012, around 6,800 construction companies and 5,700 real estate firms, according to data from PwC.

That destruction of business fabric has resulted in an enormous number of unemployed people. Whilst a decade ago, the number of wage earners linked to the construction sector amount to 2 million people, in 2017 the number barely exceeded 800,000. In other words, almost 60% of the workers have disappeared (…).

“The main problem is that people who worked in the sector before and who have now found work now elsewhere do not want to return because of the fear of another crisis…”.

The problem goes far beyond the increase in prices that the property developers end up passing onto end buyers. The severe labour shortage, together with the lack of financing, puts in danger the sector’s estimates in terms of their forecasts for the construction of homes necessary for a healthy real estate market. And no solution for that problem is likely to be found in the short term (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Sanz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Equilis Invests €120M in a Commercial Complex in Esplugues

27 June 2018 – El Mundo

The Belgian real estate firm Equilis is finalising a new shopping centre in Esplugues de Llobregat, which is expected to be inaugurated in November; 90% of the stores in the complex have already been commercialised. The centre, which has received investment of €120 million and which has employed 1,000 people for its construction, will receive up to 8 million visitors per year and will create 500 more jobs once it begins operation, according to forecasts prepared by the company.

The macro-project from the company controlled by the Mestdagh family is a first step in its expansion in Spain, where it expects to begin six projects with a value of €750 million over the next few years, two of which will be in Cataluña, which will receive investment of €200 million – including Esplugues – and four in the rest of the country.

Finestrelles Shopping Center, as the commercial complex in Esplugues is known, is located in the Ca n’Oliveres sector, in the neighbourhood of Can Vidalet, on the plot that exists between Calles Laureà Miró and Sant Mateu. It will have two tunnels that will connect the space with Ronda de Dalt and la Avenida Diagonal.

The surface area of the complex will span 40,000 m2, distributed over five floors, two of which will be dedicated to parking and the rest for commercial use. The centre will contain 110 stores as well as a hall of residence for students with almost 375 beds and a hypermarket. “For the time being, there won’t be any cinemas, but we are not ruling that out”, said Víctor Gómez (pictured above), CEO of the company in Spain.

Original story: El Mundo 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Amazon Opens its Support Centre for SMEs in 22@ (Barcelona)

23 April 2018 – Eje Prime

Amazon’s support centre for SMEs has opened its doors in the 22@ district of Barcelona. From its Sell Support Hub facilities, the US company is going to offer support services to small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in Spain, Italy and France that sell their products through Amazon Marketplace.

The facilities, which house more than 200 employees, are also going to be home to Amazon’s Research and Development Centre, specialising in machine learning. The date for the opening of that centre has not been released yet, but its doors are expected to open within the next few months.

From its new centre, Amazon is going to help companies understand how to use its tools to sell globally through its different web platforms. According to François Saugier, Vice-President of Amazon Marketplace in Europe, it is laying the foundations for companies to make the leap into the digital economy.

Seller Support Hub is going to facilitate the creation of 500 jobs over the next three years. Regarding the choice of Barcelona as the location for this centre, François Nuyts, Vice-President and Director General of Amazon.es and Amazon.it, said that “it is a city that combines international talent with a dynamic and innovative network of SMEs, entrepreneurs and startups”.

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation: Carmel Drake

KKH Gets Green Light to Convert Deutsche Bank Building into Super-Luxury Apartments

11 December 2017 – Expansión

The former Deutsche Bank building in Barcelona, which saw its plans to be turned into a five-star hotel fall by the wayside, has finally obtained the municipal licence it needs to execute its plan B. As such, the former office building is now going to be transformed into a super-luxury residential property.

Its owner, KKH Property Investors, is going to invest around €180 million in total, according to market sources, to carry out the complete renovation of the property and build 34 homes with high-end services. One of the features of the project approved recently is that part of the four-storey commercial building located opposite the tower will be sacrificed and a passage will be built to make the residential building independent, and it will be made lighter.

KKH, led by the former CEO of Renta Corporación, Josep Maria Farré, has set out to build the most exclusive residential property in Barcelona. That distinction is currently held by the former Barcelona headquarters of Winterthur, owned by Squircle Capital, whose homes, measuring 500 m2, are sold (unfinished) for around €6 million, equivalent to more than €12,000/m2.

The 34 homes in the Deutsche Bank building will have a surface area of 200 m2 each and, as well as their privileged location, on the corner of Paseo de Gràcia and Avenida Diagonal, are going to enjoy panoramic views over the city. The common areas will include private parking, a gym, a spa, communal terraces, a swimming pool and meeting rooms. One of the features that will distinguish this residential community from others in the city, and which will make it equivalent to the best buildings in London and New York, will be the team of 20 employees that will be on hand to perform maintenance, cleaning, concierge, security and general support services for residents.

Plans

The project’s design has been entrusted to the architect Carlos Ferrater, and the first phase of construction has been subcontracted to Copcisa. The retail building, where Casa Seat will open, is expected to be finished in 2019 and the residential area, which will house another retail store on the ground floor, measuring around 500m2, should be ready by the beginning of 2020.

KKH Property Investors, a vehicle in which KKH Capital Group and the NYC fund Perella Weinberg Real Estate Fund II LP hold stakes, paid €90 million for the property in 2014. It then spent another €20 million to ensure that the Town Hall of Barcelona, led at the time by the convergent Xavier Trias, gave it permission to demolish the property and construct a hotel in its place.

The €20 million was spent buying equipment to lend to the city, to acquire buildability rights, and to pay €10.5 million to the Town Hall. But, when the project had received the municipal green light, Ada Colau arrived in government and, with her, the moratorium and new urban development plan that prevented the construction of the hotel, in which chains such as Four Seasons had expressed an interest and which would have resulted in the creation of 400 jobs.

Original story: Expansión (by Marisa Anglés)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Danish Logistics Giant DSV Inaugurates Facilities In Cabanillas del Campo (Guadalajara)

22 November 2017 – Cadena Ser

Today (Wednesday), the logistics company DSV cut the opening ribbon at its new facilities in Cabanillas del Campo (Guadalajara). The Danish logistics operator has a presence in 80 countries with 400 facilities, spanning a combined surface area of 5 million m2. In Spain, it has 227,000 m2 of space and 1,200 employees across 25 different locations.

In the case of Cabanillas, a logistics centre measuring 50,000 m2 was inaugurated today on the new SI-20 industrial estate; it is expected to create around 200 jobs. This platform, the ninth that the firm manages in Spain, has storage capacity for 65,000 pallets.

The opening ceremony was attended by the Director of DSV Solutions Spain, Xavier Juncosa; the Danish ambassador to Spain, John Nielsen; and the first Vice-President of the Government of Castilla la Mancha, José Luis Martínez Guijarro, amongst others. The latter reminded the audience about the support given by the autonomous regional governments for new investments in the region and the creation of employment.

DSV already had a presence in the province with other logistics spaces and is now expanding its facilities in Cabanillas del Campo.

Original story: Cadena Ser (by Jesús Blanco Orozco)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Employment In The Real Estate Sector Rose By 6.4% In October

3 November 2017 – Eje Prime

The real estate sector is continuing its role as a driver of the growth of employment in Spain. According to data from the Social Security office, in October, real estate activity registered a total of 130,850 affiliated workers, 63 more than in September. That figure represents a YoY increase of 6.4%, with 7,921 more professionals now active in the sector.

Including October, real estate activity has now recorded four consecutive months above the threshold of 130,000 jobs. This hopeful figure for growth contrasts with the just over 118,000 workers that were registered in the segment less than two years ago, in January 2016. Last year, during one month, March, the figure actually fell below that threshold, to an annual minimum of 117,986.

Nevertheless, the sector has been recovering its strength, month after month, and the real estate business made its debut in 2017 with 124,053 affiliated workers registered for Social Security purposes. Since January, the MoM growth rate has stood at around 1%, with around 1,000 new jobs being created each month, until the summer, when the rate of increase stagnated.

The strong performance in terms of employment in the real estate sector goes hand in hand with the recovery of the job market in general right across the country. In October, the Social Security office registered 17 million affiliated workers, which represents an improvement of 3.9% on the total employment figures recorded in the same month in 2016. The growth rate of employment in the real estate sector (6.4%) clearly shows that it is moving at a faster pace than the economy in general.

If we add employment in real estate activity with employment in the construction sector (the construction of buildings, specialist construction work and civil engineering), then the sector recorded an average of 1.27 million affiliated workers in October, up by 6.7% compared to the same month last year.

Unemployment rose by 56,884 people in October

The number of registered unemployed people at the Public Employment Services’ offices rose by 56,884 in October compared to the previous month. Nevertheless, the increase was well below the average rise in the unemployment figure in October over the last eight years, which amounts to 90,000 people.

In YoY terms, unemployment in Spain fell by 7.9% in the tenth month of the year, bringing the total number of unemployed people to 3.46 million. By economic sector, registered unemployment decreased above all in the construction sector, whilst it increased in the agriculture, industry and services sectors.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Carmena Scuppers AXA’s Plans For Cine Rex

27 September 2017 – El Confidencial

An urban planning setback for the real estate arm of the French insurance company AXA. The Town Hall of Madrid has scuppered the company’s plans to convert the former Cines Rex into a retail space, by declaring inadmissible both the modification to the Special Plan for the building located on Calle Gran Vía, number 43 Bis, as well as the Special Plan for Environmental Urban Planning Control for Uses of the property. The first of these instruments is used to process the change of use for buildings, whilst the latter is an urban planning instrument aimed at evaluating “the incidence that the implementation of a certain use may have on the urban environment and on the characteristics of the space that it inhabits, prior to the concession of the licence”, according to the Official Gazette of the Town Hall of Madrid.

It is worth remembering that the building has Level 1 protection, which means that the owner has an obligation to protect both the façade and the interior, and from therein arises the need to approve both urban planning procedures.

The Town Hall’s decision represents a major setback for the French insurance company, which reached an agreement to acquire the building that houses Hotel Rex and the historical cinemas of the same name for around €42 million at the end of 2015 (…).

AXA had planned to remodel the building, which has a surface area of 9,000 m2, and operate it by combining the hotel use – which it already held – with retail, the use that was reserved for cinemas, whose protected nature the insurance company was willing to respect, even though the space, measuring 700 m2, had been in disuse for several years. Sources at the company assure El Confidencial that “the project for the Rex building is going ahead as planned and on time. We are holding conversations with the Town Hall of Madrid to undertake certain modifications as part of the operations usually involved in these types of large projects” (…).

According to the sources consulted, the French insurance company had planned to convert the cinema into a large retail space to house a flagship store, in a similar style to Primark, a few doors along on the same street. In terms of the hotel side, Room Mate Hotels, the hotel chain owned by Kike Sarasola, reached an agreement with AXA at the beginning of this year to operate the iconic Hotel Rex. (…). The chain’s objective is to undertake a remodelling of the property, with the aim of inaugurating the new hotel, which will comprise 130 rooms and create 45 jobs, between the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Sanz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Primark To Open 5,100 m2 Store In Torre Sevilla Shopping Centre

22 September 2017 – Mis Locales

The Irish multi-national fashion retailer, Primark, has chosen the Torre Sevilla shopping centre as the location for the opening of its first large urban store in Sevilla. Work to adapt the premises will begin this month.

The company’s choice of Torre Sevilla is due to the location of the shopping centre, close to the city’s Old Town and the metropolitan area of the capital.

Primark will be one of at least 80 stores, ranging from fashion, technology, sports, adventure, health and beauty, as well as restaurants and a state-of-the-art gym, that will open in the Torre Sevilla shopping centre.

CaixaBank has made a total investment of €20 million in the shopping centre. In terms of employment, more than 800 jobs have already been created, and an additional 1,500 direct and indirect jobs are expected to be generated when the commercial space is fully operational.

The shopping centre was designed by the architecture studio Broadway Maylan, which has received several international awards for urban planning, design and architecture projects. The property comprises two large buildings, which will have a combined gross leasable area of 25,000 m2.

Original story: Mis Locales

Translation: Carmel Drake