Castilla & León Reclassifies 28,315 hectares of Buildable Land Back to Rural Use

6 October 2018 – El Confidencial

Torquemada in Palencia has 989 inhabitants and sufficient buildable land on which to construct 162,000 homes. Coca in Segovia has 1,863 inhabitants and sufficient buildable land on which to construct 114,000 homes. Valladolid capital has 299,715 inhabitants and sufficient land on which to construct 217,293 new homes. They are just three simple examples of the urban planning absurdity seen in recent decades that is still present in almost every municipality in Spain.

Since the 1980s, and especially since the beginning of this century, town halls, in particular those in rural areas, have reclassified thousands of hectares of rural land to buildable land, on mass, in the hope that, during the boom times there would be a bureaucracy saving for the property developers, which would encourage them to invest, in both homes and industry. But the bubble burst (…) and thousands of buildable hectares were left over, converted today in a kind of weird joke.

Now, the Junta de Castilla y León wants to recover all of that land to return it to what it always was, agricultural and forestry land without any pretensions of being home to long rows of terraced houses or enormous industrial estates. The regional government has established three phases for the change of its land uses on mass.

It undertook the first phase in 2016, converting 10,000 hectares, and on 18 October this year, it will undertake the second phase, affecting 28,315 hectares, equivalent to half of the island of Ibiza or more than half of La Rioja. In total, 87 municipalities including several provincial capitals with capacity for one million potential homes that will now never see the light. The final mass change is planned for 2022. Goodbye then to the reckless optimism of the past; hello to a different future, one characterised by depopulation, which threatens to erase thousands of towns from the map (…).

“This is not Marbella, it was never realistic to think that large companies or property developers were going to come here to build homes. We have an industrial estate with five companies and we have lost 100 inhabitants in the last five years. A town cannot work miracles”, explains Jorge Domingo González, mayor of Torquemada, the rural municipality most affected by this second wave, which will modify 208 areas in Castilla y León (only 45 of them are industrial plots of land) on the basis of the urban planning law approved in 2014. “All of that land was reclassified not to build homes but to facilitate investment (…)”, explains the mayor of Torquemada.

Even so, many mayors did take advantage of the change to approve large residential developments, always under the suspicion, and sometimes rightly so, that they were going to be built with the sole objective of speculation and receiving an illegal bonus. That is where hundreds of ghost urbanisations in the middle of nowhere stemmed from; many are half-built, some even lack roads, but all have now been converted into a burden for municipalities, which do not have enough money to demolish them (…).

The town halls will not see any great benefits from this measure, but the owners of the land will do, since they will save a decent amount by no longer having to pay IBI (property tax) on urban land but having to do so on rural land, which is much cheaper. “In this way, we avoid uncertainties that have no sense in being maintained”, said Marinero…..

There is no record of any owner submitting claims against this change of use, although they have had four years to do so. That in itself is a clear sign that times have changed and that no one in the towns expects to win the lottery. If anything, they now just dream of not disappearing, to avoid being dragged away by the rural exodus.

Original story: El Confidencial (by David Brunat)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Brussels Authorises Creation of Real Estate JV By Sabadell and Oaktree

11 June 2018 – Europa Press

On Friday, the European Commission approved the creation of a joint venture in the real estate sector by Bitarte, a company belonging to the Banco Sabadell group, and the US company Oaktree Capital Group Holdings.

The creation of this joint venture, which will be dedicated to the identification, acquisition, development and commercialisation of residential plots in Spain, does not represent a problem for the competition authorities due to its limited impact on the structure of the market, according to a statement issued by Brussels.

In this way, the operation has been approved by virtue of the European rules governing concentrations and has been examined under the framework of simplified control procedures, which is used by the EU executive in less complex competition cases.

Bitarte owns real estate assets under development, whilst Oaktree Capital Group is a global company specialising in management and specifically in loan and financing strategies.

Original story: Europa Press

Translation: Carmel Drake

Junta de Andalucía Awards 6,627m2 of Industrial Land in Jaén

23 March 2018 – 20 Minutos

Specifically, the Junta de Andalucía has sold nine plots of industrial land located on several industrial estates in Alcalá la Real, Arjona, Martos and Torredonjimeno for a total amount of around €0.5 million, according to a statement issued by the Andalucían Government on Friday.

Most of the sales have been recorded in Alcalá la Real, where four plots spanning a surface area of 2,800 m2 on the Llanos del Mazuelo industrial estate have been awarded, which will whereby continue its development with the upcoming installation of new companies and the expansion of existing firms that already operate there.

In Torredonjimeno, three other plots have been awarded, spanning a total surface area of 2,184 m2, whilst in Arjona, one plot measuring 700 m2 has been sold and in Martos, another plot has been sold for the expansion of the Cañada de la Fuente Industrial Estate, spanning 941 m2.

The Minister for Development and Housing, Felipe López, explained that the land sales by the autonomous community were reactivated at the beginning of this legislature, “a decision that aims to place public assets at the disposal of business initiatives for the generation of economic activity and employment”.

According to López, the proceeds that the government has been receiving since the beginning of 2015 for these sales “are allowing the autonomous Administration to look for and generate new plots for future industrial and business uses with the aim of boosting economic development and responding to the growth needs of the production fabric” in the province of Jaén.

Moreover, he highlighted that Jaén leads the ranking for the sale of industrial land in Andalucía to date during this legislature. In total, including the plots that have just been awarded, 96,655 m2 of land has been awarded in the province since 2015 for almost €8 million.

Meanwhile, he added that the first offer for land owned by AVRA this year has resulted in the award of 28,376 m2 in residential and industrial plots right across Andalucía, for a total amount of €5.6 million.

In addition to the plots of industrial land sold in Jaén, the award of land for social housing in Córdoba is also noteworthy, where a plot measuring 4,656 m2, with capacity for 88 homes, has been divested for €1.7 million.

Moreover, a free residential plot, spanning 15,450 m2 and with capacity for 86 homes in the Malagan municipality of Rincón de la Victoria, was sold for a price of €3.1 million. In addition, another free residential plot for 10 homes was also sold in the Cordoban municipality of Obejo, for €103,500.

The sale that has just been completed was opened on 26 January and remained open for the presentation of offers until 1 March. The offer, the first in 2018 involving the sale of industrial, tertiary and non-residential land, as well as residential plots and other real estate assets, contained almost 900,000 m2 spread over 772 plots across all of Andalucía’s provinces.

The residential plots that were included in this sale have capacity for 3,060 homes, of which 1,437 are social housing in nature and the remainder are for free/private development.

Original story: 20 Minutos

Translation: Carmel Drake

US Fund Harbert Buys 3 Plots in Valencia from NAU for €33M

1 March 2018 – Valencia Plaza

There’s a new player in the Valencia real estate sector. The US fund Harbert Management Corporation is disembarking in Cap i Casal together with the property developer Momentum Real Estate Investment Managers with the purchase of three residential plots from a subsidiary of the real estate company ‘Nuevas Actividades Urbanas’ (NAU), a firm that has been controlled by the investor group Atitlan for the last year.

According to sources in the real estate sector, the operation involves two plots located in the Campanar neighbourhood – close to Maestro Rodrigo – plus a third plot in the area near to Avenida Alfahuir. In all cases, the plots are located in established residential areas of the city where the demand for housing is significant.

The fund has invested €33 million in total to acquire this set of assets, which are estimated to have a (roof space) impact of 42,900 m2. The operation put an end to a long sales process led by Atitlan itself in which more than a dozen parties had expressed their interest.

This is the first major operation that NAU has undertaken following the entry of Atitlan as a shareholder. Atitlan is owned by Roberto Centeno (pictured above) – the son-in-law of Juan Roig – and Aritza Rodero. The company has a stake equivalent to 40% in NAU, which allows it to lead the real estate firm.

It does so through Demeter Áurea, which has controlled 84.51% of NAU’s shares since 2017 after it acquired the 48.62% that Bankia held and received the 35.89% that Gesfesa transferred to it. NAU’s best assets include its stakes in the Aqua Multiespacio and Arena Multiespacios shopping centres in Valencia.

When asked about this, sources at Atitlan confirmed to this newspaper that “one of NAU’s subsidiaries that has filed for liquidation has sold three residential plots”. Nevertheless, the company distances itself from the operation. “Atitlan does not hold a majority stake in NAU and NAU does not hold a majority in the subsidiary that has sold the plots”, they confirmed.

A new property developer in the city

In any case, the operation represents the entry into Valencia of a new operator, the property developer Momentum Real Estate, which is called to lead the development of plots that until now were owned by NAU’s subsidiary. According to details provided by the firm on its website, it specialises in the construction of primary residences.

“It only works with ‘finalist’ assets, those that do not have any urban planning procedures pending”, said the company, which has a large portfolio of developments in Spain – mostly in Madrid – but which lacked projects in the Community of Valencia until now.

With regards to the fund, Harbert does already have experience in the Community of Valencia. It was the owner of the El Manar de Massalfassar shopping centre, which it sold in 2017 for around €40 million.

Original story: Valencia Plaza (by Dani Valero)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Ministry of Defence Puts 2 Plots in Madrid & Málaga Up for Auction for €30M

19 February 2018 – Eje Prime

The Ministry of Defence is continuing to divest land in Spain. The government agency has decided to put two more plots up for auction, one in Madrid and one in Málaga, for €30 million. The operation has been published on Addmeet and the auction will take place in April.

The first of the assets is located at number 82 Calle Arturo Soria, in Ciudad Lineal (Madrid). That plot has a surface area of 6,438 m2 and a buildable area of 23,861 m2. The typology of the land, which will go on the market for a price of approximately €25 million, is for equipment, according to explanations provided by sources at the platform for real estate auctions.

The second plot is located in Málaga, in the Hacienda Cabello neighbourhood, and will go up for auction for €4.4 million. The future owner of that land, which has a surface area of 6,270m2, may construct a residential building on the site, measuring more than 8,750 m2.

Last October, the Ministry of Defence sold two residential plots in Madrid. The auction of that land, located in Vicálvaro and Alcalá de Henares, generated revenues of €43 million for the Ministry.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake