Madrid’s Town Hall Ratifies its Development Plan for SE

26 July 2018 – Observatorio Inmobiliario

The Plenary Session of the Town Hall of Madrid has approved alterations to the urban planning order in force for the Developments in the Southeast of the Spanish capital, thanks to the votes of Ahora Madrid and the PSOE. At the beginning of July, Madrid’s High Court of Justice (TSJM) provisionally suspended the Town Hall’s plan for this area.

The votes of Ahora Madrid and the PSOE were enough to approve a motion in the Plenary Session of the Town Hall of Madrid that seeks to adjust the growth of the Developments in the Southeast to the amenities, services and infrastructure demanded for the adequate development of urban life, whereby rationalising the Plan that has been provisionally suspended by the High Court.

“With this motion, we want to ratify the commitment with the criteria reflected in the document that should govern the construction of these developments”, explained the delegate for Sustainable Urban Development, José Manuel Calvo.

Meanwhile, the Compensation Boards that succeeded in getting the TSJM to stop the Plan confirm that if an amendment to the General Urban Plan is approved, then they will study the possibility of appealing and they will request the corresponding compensation.

In a statement, the same sources explain that “they lament” the path that the Town Hall is seeking to initiate. “If the modification is approved in the end, we will study the possibility of appealing the agreement and, at the same time, we will interpose the procedures of state liability to request the corresponding compensation”, they warn.

Nevertheless, they added that it is going to be “very difficult” for the Town Hall to justify the need to modify the plans, which is “a necessary requirement for its approval”.

Original story: Observatorio Inmobiliario

Translation: Carmel Drake

Riu Gets Green Light For Its Renovation Of Edificio España

22 September 2017 – Eje Prime

After a very drawn out negotiation process and having being passed from Wanda to Grupo Baraka and then to the hotel chain Riu, Edificio España has finally received the green light for its renovation. The Town Hall of Madrid has granted the building permit to allow Riu to start to refurbish its Riu Plaza.

Sources at the Town Hall’s Sustainable Urban Development (DUS) department, explain that the Activities Agency granted the authorisation yesterday, which, given the complexity of the construction work, establishes a program of approval comprising two phases: firstly, the restoration work will be performed, and then the definitive licence will be granted for the inauguration of the hotel, according to EFE.

The first phase of the building permit covers work to conserve the façades, external work to recover recesses, the dismantling of embellishments and the replacement of windows and railings, as well as partial restructuring work, refurbishment and restoration for the adaptation of the existing structure and the dismantling of protected interior elements.

On the other hand, the second phase includes the definitive licence for the inauguration of the hotel activity and the retail space, with the performance of partial restructuring work, construction of internal partition walls and facilities, and external work to assemble the identifying elements of the hotel and the planned retail space, according to sources in the team led by José Manuel Calvo.

Located in the central Plaza de España, the property was constructed by Spanish architects Julián and José María Otamendi between the years 1948 and 1953, and it was the tallest building in Spain at the time. The Chinese multinational Wanda acquired the iconic building with the aim of opening a hotel, luxury homes and a shopping centre, but to that end, it wanted to pull down the existing structure and then reconstruct the façades at a later date, something that the municipal Government refused to allow.

In the end, Wanda sold the building to Grupo Baraka, owned by the Murcian businessman Trinitario Casanova, who visited the property together with the mayor of Madrid and who promised to build a hotel with two swimming pools and a shopping arcade, in collaboration with Riu.

The hotel chain then reached an agreement with Baraka to acquire 100% of Edificio España, and so it will be the entity responsible for undertaking the construction work, in two phases.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Madrid’s Town Hall Prepares To Legislate For Tourist Apartments

30 April 2017 – El Confidencial

The Town Hall of Madrid has decided to take the lead regarding the problem of the proliferation of tourist homes in the capital. Although it lacks the power to introduce legislation (that responsibility lies with the Community of Madrid), the Town Hall’s Councillor for Sustainable Urban Development is working towards signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbnb, and the other platforms that operate in the city, to try to put some order to a situation that isn’t showing any signs of letting up. (…).

José Manuel Calvo (pictured above), Councillor for Sustainable Urban Development, plans to have the agreement ready before the end of this legislature.

Specifically, there are three measures that the Town Hall of Madrid is hoping to extrapolate from an example that it has been studying in Amsterdam. The first is “to establish a maximum period of time, be it 60 days, 120 days, etc, that an owner may lease his/her property (home/room) for each year and for the platform to withdraw the property in question from its website, once that quota has been reached, until the following year”.

The second measure involves ensuring that only the owner of a property may lease it out, whereby preventing the involvement of any companies. This will allow “people who need to supplement their mortgage payments, or who need to lease their house to make ends meet, to continue to let out their homes/rooms, but it prevents people from creating tourist accommodation companies without paying taxes, or complying with legislation, etc”.

The crux of the agreement comes in the third measure: “we are considering a tourist tax for tourist homes only, not for hotels, given that hotels already pay taxes, fees, fulfil their obligations etc. Meanwhile, tourist homes do not currently pay any taxes. In other Central European cities, and even in some American cities, some of the landlords’ profits are reinvested in the town, in agreement with the operators”, said Calvo.

With this new revenue stream, the Town Hall could finance the systems of control that it plans to implement to verify that Airbnb and its competitors are complying with the agreed conditions.

But the problem of the touristification or gentrification of the centre of Madrid goes beyond the tourist homes and also affects the proliferation of hotels, to the detriment of residential buildings; another challenge that Calvo wants to tackle by limiting changes of use. (…).

Although he acknowledged that “Madrid faces a very different situation in terms of hotels to Barcelona, Venice and Lisbon (we have 2.7 beds for every 1,000 inhabitants, compared to 8 in Barcelona)”, he also admits that he is worried by the degree of saturation that is starting to be seen in certain neighbourhoods in the centre, where limits do need to start being imposed (…).

“Madrid undoubtedly still has the capacity to increase its hotel and tourist capacity, but, the question is whether that should all be concentrated in the centre, in the same neighbourhoods, where the residential fabric is being pushed out by the increase in hotels and tourist apartments? We don’t think so, we need to diversify. Ideally, they would go towards the Arganzuela district, towards Chamartín, towards Chamberí, to the outskirts, to the other side of the M-30…”.

And it was on this point that Calvo was most belligerent, going as far as to state that he would be willing to set thresholds, to establish limits in those areas where saturation is detected. (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

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