Plans are Afoot to Refloat Marbella’s Former Incosol as a Hotel

26 November 2018 – Diario Sur

It is one of Marbella’s historical tourism buildings, it has been closed since 2013, and for years the most famous of the famous passed through its doors. It is the Incosol. Now, five years after it definitively closed its doors when its last owners filed for creditor bankruptcy, something is starting to move in the great establishment, located to the East of the town and surrounded by gardens and unbeatable views.

According to information obtained by this newspaper, Hotel Value Added Primera, linked to the subsidiary that the Sabadell Group used to acquire the building in 2017, is studying the feasibility of refloating the property as a hotel. For that, it has made contact with the local Administration to consider, in the first instance, the possibilities that the plans would have from an urban planning point of view. In theory, the plans involve a hotel project without the healthcare features that the iconic Incosol used to offer.

Although no specific plans have been presented to the Town Hall yet, the Urban Planning department has started to evaluate the investors’ proposals. From the outset, the exclusive hotel use would require a modification of the elements of the General Urban Plan (PGOU) in force, that of 1986. For the time being, the case is being studied technically.

The sources consulted by this newspaper underline that the urban development plan reflects that this land “would not form part of the municipality’s healthcare model”, which would open the door to the proposed change. In any case, and with the aim of understanding the feasibility of the idea presented to the Municipal Administration, the investors are not taking any risks and have resorted to those who best know the urban development plan in force, namely, the team that drafted the PGOU of 1986.

Since the hotel’s closure in 2012, and after many incarnations in the courts, last year, it was the Sabadell Group, through its real estate subsidiary, who took ownership of the property and the brand. Just a few weeks ago, the doors of the old hotel were opened again to clear the facilities of all of the furniture and furnishings that had been left intact since its closure and which have now been donated to Cáritas (…).

The legendary spa of the jet set of the 1970s and 1980s in Marbella (through whose doors passed Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Sean Connery, Rainiero of Mónaco and Camilo José Cela, amongst others) closed in 2013, on one of the saddest days in its history, since it opened its doors in 1973. The failure led to a creditors bankruptcy (…). And after much to-ing and fro-ing, in the end, one of its creditors, Sabadell, acquired the establishment a year ago.

If the plans of the investor group interested in recovering the property – which are still in a very early phase – come to fruition, Marbella could include the mythical Incosol in its list of new luxury establishments after the upcoming arrival of the prestigious Four Seasons, the arrival of W Marbella and the re-opening of the former Don Miguel establishment, thus confirming the growing interest in investing in the city, especially to create new tourist infrastructure.

Original story: Diario Sur (by Mónica Pérez)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Castellón Plans on Approving New General Plan in 2019

7 October 2018

The version including the resolution of contentions will be completed before the end of the year.

The government of Castellón’s team has set December as its deadline to send the new version of the General Structural Plan to the Regional Ministry of Territorial Planning, including the resolution of contentions, with the expectation that the city may have its new urban planning ordinance approved in 2019, after four years of planning rules – extended to 2021 – and after years of litigation to comply with the Supreme Court ruling that had cancelled the PGOU of 2000 in 2008.

According to the Councillor for Territorial Planning, Rafa Simó, the government’s technicians are continuing to study the more than 500 contentions presented. Without specifying yet which ones may be accepted and which ones may not, he stated that their goal is to resolve them “prioritising the general interest”, and write a second version of the General Structural Plan with the accepted resolutions, including the sectoral reports, to take it to an ordinary plenary session in November or December, without ruling out an extraordinary one.

PROCEDURE // The document will then be sent to the Ministry, which will demand as many modifications as it deems appropriate and will return the General Plan to the City Council, which will have to resolve them and open the second phase of exposition and contentions. After that, it will be able to write the definitive General Plan and send it back to Territory, which will then have to authorise it. “We hope that the Ministry will be agile because they have been monitoring the General Plan since the beginning,” said Simó.

In parallel, progress is being made on the detailed plan, which only requires the City Council’s approval. After the six briefings in the last weeks, the public exhibition will continue until November 8. With the deadline in hand, Simó declined to reveal how many contentions have been submitted, nor their content. The procedure for this includes the resolution of any contentions and a new phase of public exposition, which is to coincide with the second exhibition of the structural plan.

Original Story: El Periódico Mediterráneo – Estefania Moliner

Translation: Richard Turner

Sevilla’s Town Hall to Reclassify La Gavidia Police Station for Tertiary Use

18 July 2018 – Diario de Sevilla

The Urban Planning Department has sent the Ministry of the Environment the necessary documentation for the regional entity to prepare the mandatory report about the area surrounding La Gavidia. With this step, the process has been started to change the use of the former police station, which will become a tertiary use asset, as approved by the Town Hall.

The manager for Urban Planning, Ignacio Pozuelo, explained this morning that the change in La Gavidia’s classification will allow it to be used for a number of purposes, including for small and medium-sized businesses, offices, hotels, recreational use, cinemas, gym and public services.

The ownership and management of the venue are open to three formulae. They may both be public or private. The second option would involve the sale of the rationalist-style building. A third option would involve ceding only the management of the property to a private entity.

The environmental report is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. Once it has been approved by the Regional Government, the PGOU will have to be modified to reflect the new classification, a long and complex process that will coincide with the local elections in 2019 and the start of the new mandate.

The current General Plan for Urban Planning (PGOU) classified Las Gavidia police station as a Service of Public and Social Interest (SIPS). Zoido’s majority government began the steps to change that classification into a large retail space. The elections in 2015 and the loss of the mayoral office by the PP put a halt to the process. Espadas’s team is now looking to classify the property for tertiary use, which would allow for it to be used in any of the ways mentioned above.

Original story: Diario de Sevilla (by Diego J. Géniz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

The Would-Base Developer of 13,000 Homes in Sevilla is Declared Insolvent

29 May 2018 – ABC Sevilla

Desarrollo Urbanístico Sevilla Este (Duse), the company that was going to build more than 13,000 homes on a 330-hectare site next to the airport, Parque Alcosa and Sevilla Este, has filed for creditor bankruptcy in Mercantile Court number 1 of Sevilla after accumulating debt amounting to €300 million. The company has filed for liquidation after waiting fifteen years for the Town Hall to execute general infrastructure work, for which it had paid the Town Hall €60 million when Alfredo Sánchez Monteseirín was mayor.

Just when it seemed that we had seen the last of the bankruptcy proceedings involving major companies in Sevilla, the demise of Duse comes as a wake-up call for the local real estate sector. The liquidation of this company means the suspension of the urban development that was set to become one of the great areas of expansion in Sevilla: Santa Bárbara.

Duse is owned by Sando Proyectos Inmobiliarios (53.9%); Realia Business (30.5%), linked to FCC; the investment fund Vertrauen Corporate, to which Unicaja sold its 5.99% stake in 2016; Bankia (2.7%) and Bankinter (1.12%), according to the Mercantile Registry. The company owns two plots spanning more than 330 hectares on the Santa Bárbara estate. Some of this land was expropriated in the 1970s and returned to its former owners over the subsequent decades, including the heirs of Augusta Peyré, which ended up selling their land to Sando in 2002.

Urban planning agreement

Before the new PGOU was agreed in 2006, the owners of those plots signed an urban planning agreement to collaborate with the Town Hall of Sevilla to execute the urban development plan. Thus, in 2003, at the height of the real estate boom, urban planning agreements were signed between Sando and the Leaders of the Urban Planning Department for the development of the two plots spanning more than 330 hectares.

In those agreements, the Town Hall undertook to establish a certain buildability ratio for the plots and the owners agreed to bear the acquisition cost of the general infrastructure work (involving the construction of streets, avenues, roundabouts…). The PGOU established that a maximum of 2 million m2 could be built in Santa Bárbara, which would allow for the construction of 13,853 private and social housing units (…).

In exchange for that buildability, Duse paid the Town Hall €15.4 million for the acquisition of land for the external general infrastructure and €42.6 million for the execution of the construction work. In total, Duse paid the Town Hall €58.1 million, according to sources consulted by ABC (…).

The municipal Government received that money but failed to execute the general infrastructure work following the end of the economic crisis (…).

In 2017, Duse filed a claim against the Town Hall for €75.4 million – the €58.1 million it had handed over plus €17 million to cover interest, damages and harm – for the breach of the urban planning agreements (…).

In order to execute the project, Duse signed a loan with Caja Madrid for more than €200 million, which has now risen to an outstanding balance of €300 million due to the non-payment of the principal and interest. As a result of the reordering of the banking sector and the transfer of toxic assets to the so-called “bad bank”, Caja Madrid’s loan for the development of Santa Bárbara ended up in the hands of Sareb.

Sareb’s unpaid loan

In March, the loan in question matured, and so Duse offered Sareb the option to renew it, now that the economic recovery has reactivated real estate demand, or take over the plots as “dación en pago”. According to sources close to the operation, Sareb rejected both proposals. The economic crisis and the failure by the Town Hall to execute the general infrastructure work have ended up economically suffocating the property developer, which has finally thrown in the towel and filed for credit bankruptcy, starting liquidation proceedings.

What will happen to those plots now? In all likelihood, they will go up for auction. If nobody is awarded them, they will end up in the hands of Sareb, which is now the counterparty of the almost €300 million loan that Duse has outstanding (…).

Original story: ABC Sevilla (by María Jesús Pereira)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Blackstone & BBVA “Inherit” Prime Plot in Sevilla for 600 Homes

21 March 2018 – Eje Prime

BBVA and Blackstone are going to be able to take advantage of the mortgage signed back in the day by Juan Rojas. The loan for forty million euros granted to the Sevillan businessman by the Basque bank and Popular, whose toxic property has been in the hands of the US fund since last year, has given them the right to now inherit some very sought-after prime plots of land in Sevilla, after the liquidation of a dozen companies that Rojas had under his control.

The Sevillan property developer owned a plot of land in Tomares with a surface area of 260,000 m2 on which up to 600 private homes may now be constructed. Moreover, the plot, known as SUS-1, is located in the town that has the highest income per capita of all of Andalucía, according to El Confidencial.

Tomares, located in the Sevilla metropolitan area, is one of the towns that has served in recent times as a breath of fresh air for the residential sector in Sevilla, where there has been practically no movement in the capital and where over the last decade, only 5% of the urban plan (PGOU) has been executed.

Spanish property developers had been making moves to take control of the management of this plot, which was owned by one of Rojas’s holding companies, Ferro Grupo Empresarial y Urbanizadora Rojas, until now. On this plot, in addition to 600 private homes, there is space available to build 400 protected status homes and a medium-sized shopping complex.

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Town Hall of Córdoba Approves New Shopping Centre

20 December 2017 – Eje Prime

The Town Hall of Córdoba has authorised the installation of a large retail space, with an investment of €30 million, after three years of paperwork.

Rabanales 21 has finally been given the green light to open a shopping centre on its site. Rabanales Plaza could finally become a reality after three years of paperwork and institutional obstacles. On Tuesday, the plenary session of the Town Hall of Córdoba approved a change to the General Urban Development Plan (PGOU), which will allow the installation of a commercial complex in the Cordoban technological park, according to ABC Sevilla.

In total, €30 million will be invested in Rabanales Plaza, which is expected to generate 400 new jobs. The plot for the new complex spans 18,000 m2. The owners of the complex tried to build a commercial business in the city in 2015, on the Las Quemadas plots, but the crisis put an end to that venture.

Now, and after the technological estate filed for creditor pre-bankruptcy in February, the Town Hall has accepted the opening of a new retail centre, for whose land Rabanales 21 will receive €1.5 million.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Madrid’s Town Hall is Blocking 105,000 New Homes in SE of the Capital

11 December 2017 – Idealista

Madrid has the potential for a large urban development at its disposal in the form of the PAUs located in the southeast of the city, covering a surface area of almost 37 million m2 and with the capacity for the construction of up to 105,000 new homes over the next 15 years. The plans have already been sketched out, and they have been approved by the Supreme Court, but clashes between property developers/landowners and the Town Hall led by Manuela Carmena have frozen the permits and licences for completing the development of the area and, therefore, the construction of affordable new homes, which are so necessary and so sought-after in the city.

The most worrying thing is not that the future of so many thousands of homes is up in the air, but rather that they are homes that would go to middle-class families and vulnerable groups: primarily young people and people with limited purchasing power, through social housing schemes, and with prices ranging between €160,000 and €240,000. Los Berrocales, Los Ahijones, Valdecarros and Los Cerros, known in the real estate sector as land destined for the construction of the most affordable housing in Madrid, are PAUs that find themselves on this journey through a desert. And the impasse has already lasted for more than a decade.

The strategy for the southeast started to take shape with the PGOU of 1997, under the PP Government when José María Álvarez del Manzano was the mayor, with the intention of joining together all of the potential in the towns to the south of Madrid, such as Getafe, Leganés, Alcorcón and Móstoles, with the Corredor del Henares.

After completing the PAUs policy in the north of Madrid, with Sanchinarro, Montecarmelo and Las Tablas, and also the PAU of Carabanchel in the 1990s, the municipal border of Madrid was reaching its limit in terms of developable land capacity. To the north, expansion had already reached Alcobendas and San Sebastián de los Reyes; to the west, the buildable land in Madrid was already bordering on Pozuelo and Majadahonda; and in the south, the PAU of Carabanchel already reached Alcorcón and Getafe. The only free area left in the capital was to the east.

And so the initiative to develop the southeast of the capital was launched, although it has been suspended for years by the courts and has been held back by the economic crisis. But now, when the economy has started to recover and the Supreme Court has approved the project, the building work has come up against a new problem: the position of the Municipal Government.

What is the problem?

(…) The Town Hall believes that the urban development proposal for the southeast does not meet the current needs of the city. The first main stumbling block is over the number of homes to be built.

Although the Supreme Court gave the green light in September last year to the plans that involve the construction of 104,737 homes, of which approximately 53% would have some degree of protection (subsidy), as well as to the building of offices and industrial warehouses (35% of the surface area will be destined to those developments), Manuela Carmena’s team considers that the capital will not have sufficient demand to justify the construction of so many homes (…).

Specifically, the Town Hall calculates that the city will have demand for approximately 6,000 homes per year over the next few years – that figure is well below those forecast by other researchers in the market. The IESE business school, for example, estimates that the Community of Madrid will need more than 25,000 homes per year until 2025, at least (…), a figure that falls to 12,000-13,000 in the case of the capital itself (…).

Another reason that the municipal government cites against the progress of these urban developments is that the city still has a significant stock of empty homes. But, again, research and official figures exist that call into question its claims (…).

The discussions are set for the long-haul.

A 10-year paralysis that could go on for another 10 years

(…) “Regardless, if we suppose that we obtain the necessary licences and that construction starts immediately, the first homes would not be ready to be handed over until 2022-2023. If to that timeframe, we add the years needed to change the General Plan (PGOU), in the end, we are going to be talking about another decade gone to waste”, said Javier López Linares, Manager of the PAU for Los Cerros (…).

Original story: Idealista (by Ana P. Alarcos, David Marrero and Alejandro Soto)

Translation: Carmel Drake

New Urban Planning PGOU Approved for Málaga

25 November 2017 – Diario Sur

Following the annulment of the PGOU approved in 2010, the route map towards the normalisation of urban planning in Marbella has taken a step forward with the initial approval of some new urban planning rules. The latest document seeks to “update” the plan approved in 1986, which is still valid now and which will serve as the basis for drafting the new PGOU that the city needs. The process, which was approved by the plenary with votes in favour from the government’s team (PP and OSP) and the PSOE, and votes against from IU and Costa del Sol Sí Puede, must now be completed with text from the provincial delegation of the Junta’s Environment Board, prior to the issuance of a mandatory report. Subsequently, it will be presented to the plenary again for definitive approval (…).

In practice, and as the councillor for Land Planning, María Francisca Caracuel, explained, modifications have been made to the framework, amongst others, “which affect many homes” and which mean that “extensions, improvements and renovations will now be allowed” on buildings that were left out of the guidelines after the 2010 plan was annulled.

Another change will affect plots of land, for which it is not currently possible to grant construction licences because no approved urban planning projects exist, in accordance with the plan approved in 1986 “even though, in reality, they are already partially developed”. In these cases, the common rules open the door for the plots to be developed, by submitting an urbanisation work project “which is less complex and which can be processed in less time”.

The new rules will authorise hospitality use on the first floors of homes in the Casco Antiguo (Old Town) and will allow hotel establishments to expand their facilities onto adjoining plots even if the use of those sites is not strictly for hotel purposes (…).

Established urban plots

In the field of urban planning, the plenary also ratified (with votes in favour from the government team, against from IU and CSSP, and abstentions from the PSOE) the proposal made by the Councillor for Land Planning to incorporate established urban plots into the urban development plans, after they have been declared as such by binding legal rulings, administrative declarations, own acts, plenary agreements or by the Local Government. The councillor insisted that, given that it does not require any structural changes, there is no need for the document to be subjected to a new public consultation period, as had been requested by the other municipal groups.

In other matters, the municipal corporation also gave the green light, unanimously, to the proposal from the deputy mayor of San Pedro Alcántara, Rafael Piña (…) to begin the paperwork for the construction of a new secondary school in the south of San Pedro (…).

Finally, the plenary also approved, amongst other items, a proposal from IU to create a network of roads to connect the urbanisations between Bello Horizonte and Elviria, to form a 10km network that will offer a safe alternative to the A-7 motorway, which is “always packed and dangerous”.

Original story: Diario Sur (by Mónica Pérez)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Private Housing Developments Reactivate Sevilla’s Crisis-Hit Neighbourhoods

26 October 2017 – Sevilla ABC

The new residential expansion zones planned for Sevilla and its metropolitan area will move from paper to reality over the next five years. The economic recovery and express reactivation of the property sector will allow neighbourhoods to be established once again, after the crisis reduced many of them to isolated developments without any services or public infrastructure.

Perhaps the clearest example of this new panorama is Entrenúcleos, in Dos Hermanas, where plans are afoot to construct 2,500 homes. The project has been entrusted to Insur and BBVA, which has already started to market the first phase, involving almost 300 properties. That development will be built in parallel to that of the social housing blocks promised by the real estate firm Altamira – a subsidiary of Banco Santander – and the Ferrocarril group.

The growth of this Nazarene enclave was originally reflected in the PGOU approved in 2002, with a view to creating a neighbourhood with more than 20,000 inhabitants, almost a small city between the urban centres of Dos Hermanos and Montequinto.

The latter nucleus has also undergone significant residential expansion  in recent times thanks to the company Bekinsa, which has constructed several developments in the area around Avenida de Europa, the last remaining space left to build on, next to the Metro stop, where a couple of urbanisations have already been sold, for delivery this year, and where off-plan apartments are being sold, for delivery in 2019.

More buildings are going to be built next to these homes on plots, located next to the shopping centre, which have been acquired by Quintos, S.A., with capacity for 800 two-, three- and four-bedroom homes.

In the Andalucian capital, the cranes are already appearing in the neighbourhoods on the outskirts, where there are still large blocks of land left to populate. As set out in the Urban Development Plan, the city will continue to grow eastwards, with a new recently announced development. It will be constructed by the Madrilenian company Vía Célere, which has acquired the former plots of the real estate company Osuna after they ended up in the hands of BBVA. The investment has exceeded €26 million and will allow for the construction of 1,700 homes on the land closest to the water park, on the Airport Industrial Estate (…)

New neighbourhoods

The property developer Metrovacesa is also working on a residential plan of a similar scale on land in Palmas Altas, taking advantage of the interest that the new shopping centre will generate there and the recent agreement that it has reached with the Town Hall to push ahead with the initiative (…).

The final area of residential expansion in Sevilla is Hacienda Rosario, located next to Torreblanca, where 1,977 homes are due to be constructed around a large park, which will form the lungs of the new neighbourhood. Of those, around 800 will be social housing properties and the remainder will be private homes (…).

Another aspect that has caught people’s attention is the decided commitment from the American investment funds to the real estate sector in Sevilla. Several, such as Värde Partners (through Vía Célere) and Aedas Homes, which is leading the project in Hacienda Rosario, will be looking to the Andalucian capital to push ahead with their plans over the next five years.

Original story: Sevilla ABC (by Elena Martos)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Bilbao To Build 13,000 New Homes In Growth Areas

16 October 2017 – El Correo

Bilbao is fine-tuning where the city is going to grow in the future. The next General Urban Development Plan (PGOU), the instrument that will regulate the city’s development over the next thirty years, is reserving land on which 13,000 new homes are going to be built, in some of the most prominent areas of the city.

Specifically, it confirms the construction of 8,500 homes in Zorrozaurre, Punta Zorroza – a project that has not been defined yet – and Bolueta, where a lack of demand has forced the local government to convert a residential tower that was already designed in the plans into VPO (social housing) properties. The remaining 4,500 homes are planned for Elorrieta, Olabeaga, the Irala area –spread across industrial units still pending reclassification – and the “lid” of the Abando underground station.

The preview of the PGOU, which was unveiled to the public on Friday by decision of the local PNV-PSE Government, considers that the figure of 13,000 homes has “the capacity to support a similar number of inhabitants” to the number living in the city today – 342,481 residents, according to the latest report from Eustat. The population, which has been ageing and in progressive decline for the last decade, represents one of Bilbao’s future challenges.

Another challenge facing the next PGOU is the balance of social housing and the rate of growth that respects the environment, especially in the case of mobility. In this sense, the urban planning rules include several operations to eliminate obstacles, which have been requested repeatedly by citizens: the Rekalde section of the motorway viaduct – a project that also depends on the Diputación – and the placing underground of roads in the neighbourhoods of Zorroza and Olabeaga. The latter neighbourhood has opted to “exclusively” develop residential when the goods line disappears.

Original story: El Correo (by José Mari Reviriego)

Translation: Carmel Drake