Operación Mesena: Santander & Metrovacesa Prepare to Fight the Residents

24 November 2017 – Voz Pópuli

BBVA and Operación Chamartín have some competition on their hands in the form of Operación Mesena. Banco Santander and Metrovacesa are working on two simultaneous real estate operations, which could completely change the neighbourhood of Hortaleza in Madrid, located in the northeast of the city. If the plans go ahead, the entities will star in one of the largest real estate development in the Spanish capital, alongside Chamartín and the Calderón.

The operation revolves around the former Ciudad Banesto and the adjoining plots of land (Colonia Banesto), which have been used as housing for employees and sports facilities for half a century. On the one hand, Metrovacesa – in which Santander holds a 70% stake and which is the owner of La Colonia – has launched a plan for all of the residents to leave their homes.

On the other hand, Santander is working to move the staff that it currently has working at Banesto’s former offices to Popular’s new headquarters. Once that plan has been fulfilled, the entities intend to reclassify the land from offices and sports facilities to urban use. The Town Hall of Manuela Carmena will play a key role. In the past, the Town Hall approved two operations by Banesto-Santander to build some houses and a development of luxury apartments.

Sources consulted at Metrovacesa and Santander note that the two projects are still up in the air and that they are independent of each other. Even so, they will happen at the same time and will be located next to each other. Moreover, the bank controls the real estate company, given that it holds 70% of the share capital, and BBVA also holds a stake, of almost 30%.

The operation has entered controversial territory given that the homes in the former Colonia Banesto are subsidised housing properties (VPO), which were granted to employees of the group who are now retired. Of the 160 families who originally resided there, just 39 remain. Most of them are retired and aged between 70 and 80 years.

In the last few days, those residents have received a letter from Metrovacesa Suelo y Promoción, notifying them of “the termination of their lease contracts and granting them a period, until 31 January 2018, to hand over their homes”, according to the letter to which this newspaper has had access.

The real estate company wants to negotiate with the residents who still live in Colonia Banesto one by one, to find them a suitable exit. The current tenants are not going to make it easy for the entities; they are now seeking advice through the Federation of Neighbourhood Associations and several law firms.

In this way, several dozen former employees of Banesto and mayor Carmena are preparing to deal with what could become one of the largest real estate fights since the outbreak of the crisis. After the planning phase, come the negotiations.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Jorge Zuloaga)

Translation: Carmel Drake