Chinese Investors Await Edificio España Verdict

3 June 2016 – Expansión

The negotiations between the Town Hall of Madrid and the Wanda investment group, the owner of the property, over the future of Edificio España, has had the sector on tenterhooks, and not only the main players involved, but also the Chinese investment community in general, which is waiting for the outcome before deciding whether Spain is an appropriate destination for their capital.

The Chairman of Wanda, Wang Jianlin, said recently in an interview with Chinese state television CCTV that he is waiting for “written” permission from the Town Hall of Madrid to demolish Edificio España, whilst, in parallel, he analyses offers to resell the building. In the interview, Wang Jianlin complained about the change in the conditions surrounding the building’s renovation following the arrival of the new mayoress.

Recently, the Chinese ambassador to Spain, Lyu Fan, acknowledged that some Chinese companies are determining their future plans on the negotiations being held by the Chinese giant in Madrid.

Investments in 2015

Interest from Chinese capital in Spain has grown considerably in recent years. The Director of the Economics Department at Casa Asia, Amadeo Jensana, explained that in 2015, total investment (by Chinese players) amounted to €850 million, compared with an average of around €100 million five years earlier. (…).

The Head of Development and Expansion of the company Christie & Co in Asia, Joanne Jia, said that Spain has always been a very active market, but she acknowledged that what is happening with Wanda will undoubtedly have an effect. According to Jia, investors are waiting to see what will happen with Edificio España before they take their investment decisions. “If it is resolved favourably, it will be promising. If not, it could cause some investors to stop looking for opportunities”…given that a blockage in negotiations would mean less confidence in the legal system, in addition to the cultural barriers. (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Colau Warns Of RE Bubble Danger In Barcelona

3 March 2016 – Público

The mayoress of Barcelona, Ada Colau, has warned about the imminent “danger of a real estate bubble” in the city, driven by an increase in the price of rental housing since 2014-2015.

The town hall has submitted a report about the increase in rental prices in Barcleona, whose results show an increase of more than 6% in rental housing across the city as a whole, especially where tourism is most concentrated. The neighbourhoods most affected by the rises are Les Corts (8.7%), Sant Martí (8.6%), Sarrià-Sant Gervasi (6.9%) and Eixample (6.7%). “Rental prices in Barcelona have risen by more than in any other city in Spain”, she said.

In light of this increase, the mayoress has asked both the Generalitat de Catalunya and the Spanish State to act to limit future rental price rises, especially in areas where tourism demand is the highest, and to modify housing regulations to “avoid a new speculative cycle”. “We want to raise the alarm because the housing laws have not been modified and that is facilitating new speculation about the housing market, which means that rental prices are increasing in areas where income levels have not improved”, she said at a press conference.

Colau made reference to Germany as an example of good practice in the protection of the right to housing, given that there, the “State allows limits to be placed on rental prices”, depending on the income levels in the areas where prices are on the rise. “We urge the relevant authorities, at both the Catalan and Spanish level, to follow the European example regarding limitations on rental prices in places where there is significant residential demand”, she said.

The mayoress also acknowledged that progress has been made in the battle against evictions and the increase in rental housing in Catalunya, thanks to the approval of law 24 2015, by popular initiative. But, according to Colau, this regulation still needs to be applied to “put an end to mortgage foreclosures and to put a stop to the speculation”. Even so, she considers that “collaboration with the State is necessary” and she took the opportunity to denounce the limited profile the housing crisis is having in the investiture debate.

The mayoress and the councillor for housing, Josep Maria Montaner, announced that the Town Hall has increased the number of homes in the city’s public housing stock by 255, thanks to acquisitions from financial institutions. It is the second batch of homes that the banks have transferred or sold to the town hall, below market value, to increase the city’s pool of rental housing and to resolve the social emergency. Specifically, 50 flats have been transferred in 8 years, 131 homes have been purchased below the market price and the right of first refusal has been granted on another 28 homes.

With these, the municipal government has now obtained 455 homes from the banks for inclusion in the public housing stock, during the course of its mandate (in addition to the 200 granted by Sareb and the 50 from CaixaBank). (…).

Original story: Público (by Laura Safont)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Colau Convinces KKH To Abandon Luxury Hotel Project In BCN

2 October 2015 – Expansión

The real estate fund KKH, which owns the Deutsche Bank building in Barcelona, has agreed not to expand the property and convert it into a luxury hotel, as it had planned, after running into strong opposition from the new mayoress of Barcelona, Ada Colau.

The project has been affected not only by the moratorium imposed by Barcelona en Comú, but also by the fact that its suspension was one of Colau’s election promises.

KKH required permission from the Town Hall to demolish the building and construct a larger one, measuring 5,000 m2 more. In exchange, it has agreed to purchase the ‘Taller Masriera’ for €10 million and cede it to the Town Hall for public use, as well as to acquire the construction rights from Los Lluïsos de Gracia, who were willing to transfer the building rights in exchange for financial compensation.

The fund led by Josep Maria Farré has thrown in the towel and announced that it will renovate the existing building to convert it into luxury housing. In this way, the city bids farewell to a project that would have involved the entry of the hotel chain Four Seasons into Barcelona and the creation of 380 direct jobs.

Yesterday, the deputy mayoress for town planning, ecology and mobility, Janet Sanz, said she was pleased that the developers “had understood the extent of the fatigue that is affecting the city and its residents, regarding the cost and impact that certain operations may have in specific areas”.

Original story: Expansión (by M.A.)

Translation: Carmel Drake