Abandoned Block Of 44 Flats In Silleda Left Uninhabitable

13 June 2017 – La Voz de Galicia

Silleda experienced the real estate boom with vigour. And so, what came next had equally dramatic consequences. Some of the effects are still being suffered by those who invested in and acquired flats in inhabitable skeletons and others are still being felt by society as a whole, because many of the real estate assets became economically harmful and, following bankruptcies and repossessions, ended up in the hands of Sareb (…), whose share capital is split between private and public ownership (55%: 45%).

In Silleda and Lalín, Sareb has around twenty flats for sale. But the toxic asset bank owns a lot more properties around the country that affect all of Spain’s citizens. (…) Silleda also has some significant examples of economic decline, although one stands out in particular: a block of 44 flats, located just a few hundred metres from O Castro on Avenida de la Estación.

The crisis left that building high and dry, even though its construction was almost finished by the time the bubble burst. As a reminder of the past, a sign still hangs on the ground floor, “Obras Técnicas de Galicia SL, Obratec, a company created in Silleda in 2003, constructs, develops and sells homes”.

The property has four floors, a ground floor and basement, with its corresponding 44 parking spaces. Outside, the block is clearly uninhabited, but it gives few indications of what really lies inside and fewer still of the real estate loss resulting from five years of abandonment (…).

The building has a stunning interior courtyard, like a typical Spanish tenement building, a residential structure that promotes community life. It has circular corridors on each of the four floors linking the doors of all of the flats, which have two or three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a lounge, a kitchen…But now this is squatter territory, and even the squatters only visit to dismantle things, add graffiti or make temporary use of the facilities. There are also pigeons and other beings that typically colonise anything left to rot by man.

The building was almost finished, some of the flats had been sold and with individual investments at the time, now it is collapsing amongst its own paint and plaster (…) with the help of the actions of predators who took all of the electrical equipment and other items of value.

From the outside, it has a certain presence, but inside, it is a cesspit with a side entrance in the garage that has been forced open and notches from attempts to enter the rickety front door (…). Its recovery still seems possible. But, as the days go by, its state means that it may soon only be worth demolishing (…).

Original story: La Voz de Galicia (by P. V.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

VPS Seeks Local Partners To Boost Growth In Spain

21 July 2016 – Expansión

The vacant building manager VPS (Vacant Property Specialists), which is headquartered in London and which has been controlled by PAI Partners since 2014, has set its sights on Spain to target its growth. The multi-national company, which has been managed by David Taylor-Smith since May of this year, recorded turnover of €300 million in 2015 and considers that the Spanish market has the most potential for growth in Europe. It has prepared a plan to position VPS as the market leader in the country. Moroever, at the international level, it plans to triple its revenues over the next four years.

The company has hired Oscar Aragón to be its new CEO in Spain – he has previously worked for firms including Compass Group, Sotkon, ISS and Gas Natural – with the aim of making VPS the market leader.

According to Aragón, “until now, no companies in Spain have been dedicated exclusively to the management of vacant properties”. And, yet, there is significant demand for these types of services, “given the volume of assets that are still owned by the banks and that are not being used, for example”, explained the executive.

Property developers also require their services: “In a property development, if there are squatters, even in just one of the properties, then it makes it very difficult to sell the rest”. The disused buildings and homes may be closed, sealed off or protected “in a rudimentary way” or under the supervision of a professional company. In addition, he added, many financial institutions and large real estate companies prefer to work with a single company that can handle all of their properties across the whole of Spain, rather than with small local firms.

The headquarters of VPS’s Spanish subsidiary is located in Cornellà de Llobregat (Barcelona) and the firm also has offices in Madrid, Sevilla and Valencia. Aragón said that the company’s growth plans include opening offices in at least twelve provincial capitals, as well as increasing the workforce from its current size (50 people) to 150 within the next year.

Its aim is to grow both organically and through the acquisition of small companies. “We can expect to see a process of consolidation in the sector”, predicted the executive.

Original story: Expansión (by M. Anglés)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Carmena Invites Landlords To Sell Homes To The Town Hall

10 May 2016 – El Mundo

On Monday, the mayoress of Madrid, Manuela Carmena (pictured above) announced that she had been speaking with the representative from the Sustainable Urban Development team, José Manuel Calvo, to evaluate the possibility of arranging a competition to find people willing to sell their homes to the Town Hall “as cheaply as possible”, for the purpose of using them as rented social housing.

“There is a tremendous need for housing”, but the stock owned by the Municipal Housing Company (EMVS) is very limited, lamented the mayoress on her visit to Usera as part of the “One month, one district” program, where she was accompanied by the Councillor-President of Usera, Rommy Arce and a representative from Territorial Coordination, Nacho Murgui.

Carmena said that the EMVS has homes ready for emergencies, but that the Town Hall is facing “difficulties because many (of those homes) are being illegally occupied”. Solutions include approving specific modifications to the rules for accessing the EMVS’s homes and obtaining more homes for use as rental social housing.

The councillor added that all of the homes up for sale in the EMVS “have been rented out, but there are not enough properties”. Another measure that has been evaluated is the construction of homes on free plots of land, although that is a much slower process.

The mayoress offered that response after a resident of Usera realised her situation when she was evicted, after failing to pay her mortgage repayments on time on three occasions, and another resident who has also had to squat “out of necessity”.

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake

Mazabi Acquires Hotel Madrid & Teatro Albéniz

29 January 2016 – El Confidencial

Knowing how to combine business with respect for our national heritage. That has been the key that has enabled Mazabi to acquire Hotel Madrid and the historical Teatro Albéniz, an asset that the Community of Madrid had decided to protect as a Property of National Interest (“Bien de Interés Patrimonial”or BIP) and which the family office has acquired from Neinor, after resolving the associated urban planning problems.

Last Friday marked the closure of the period for public claims that the regional Government, led by Cristina Cifuentes, had opened to declare the historical building a BIP. The proposal was undertaken to ensure the survival of the property and avoid its demolition, something that several citizens’ groups had been demanding for some time. Following that deadline, the last great uncertainty surrounding the building was lifted and that has paved the way for the definitive agreement between Mazabi and Neinor.

The real estate company, which is controlled by Lone Star, inherited both the hotel and the theatre from their former owner, Kutxabank, after it had previously foreclosed both assets. The company has been in exclusive negotiations with Mazabi for four months. To seal the deal, a solution for the Teatro Albéniz needed to be guaranteed, and that option was resolved on Friday, when the period for claims came to an end. Sources at the family office have confirmed the deal, but have declined to make any further comments.

Sources close to the transaction say that Mazabi’s plans now involve returning the two buildings to their former splendour, and leasing them in their entirety to a luxury hotel chain. The growing interest from these types of operators in locating themselves in the centre of Madrid will certainly play into the hands of the family office; and the development may include the renovation of a theatre annex as a means of allowing (the chosen hotel chain) to offer a differential value proposition.

The theatre’s future

In total, the operation involves a surface area of 13,000 m2, which have been assigned various uses. In the case of the Hotel Madrid, besides tourism, it has a 1,000 m2 retail outlet on Calle Carretas, the street that links Puerta del Sol with Calle Atocha. Meanwhile, the upper floors of Teatro Albéniz may be used for residential or hotel purposes, and the three underground floors, which were destroyed by fire five years ago, have a surface area of 2,000 m2 and may be used as a nightclub.

Given the level of protection announced by Cifuentes, the survival of the entire stage house is guaranteed, and the door is also opened to “all other uses that are compatible with the space and its layout, in other words, plays, shows, concerts, conventions…, in other words, all activities that need a stage and a public…” said the regional government in December.

Having acquired the two buildings, which share a plot of land that used to house the Royal Press in the 18th Century, Mazabi will now begin two years of construction work to completely refurbish them. Although the consideration paid has not been revealed, the valuation of these properties may reach between €70 million and €80 million, on the basis of market rents and once the restoration work has been completed, according to one real estate expert.

Both the hotel and theatre have been closed since 2008. The former was occupied by hundreds of squatters for a time, before the police evicted them at the end of 2011, just after the fire in the basement of the Teatro Albéniz. (…)

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Dubai Investor To Open 3* Hotel In Centre Of Barcelona

16 June 2015 – Expansión

The businessman from Dubai has dodged the Ciutat Vella’s hotel moratorium by purchasing his licence from an establishment that has closed.

Since 2009, the historic centre of Barcelona, known as Ciutat Vella, has been subject to a hotel moratorium, which limits the construction of properties of this kind.

However, the Arab investor Haytham Alhaj Ali will open a three star hotel at number 8, on la Rambla del Raval, in the centre of Ciutat Vella.

He has engaged S3 Arquitectura to design the hotel project and he has signed an agreement with Acta Hotels to manage the future property, which could open in May next year.

This is Mr Alhaj Ali’s first project in Spain; he has invested in Barcelona through an equity company. The consideration paid for the purchase of the land and hotel licence is unknown but the cost of the construction work is expected to amount to around €3 million.

The hotel, with 27 rooms, stands on a plot of land in la Ramba del Raval where a former “squatters” drop-in centre, known as the ‘House of the Rebel People’, was located.

Original story: Expansión (by Marisa Anglés)

Translation: Carmel Drake