General de Galerías Comerciales to Acquire 146,000-M2 Plot of Land in Valdebebas

2 December 2019 – The Valdebebas Compensation Board has approved the sale of a 145,790 square meter plot of land to the socimi General de Galerías Comerciales (GGC) under its Urban Action Program (PAU) for the district in Madrid. Details of the transaction, however, were not announced, though it is believed that the socimi would have paid over 200 million euros.

GGC plans on building a new commercial complex on the site, including 36,500 square meters of offices and more than 24,500 square meters of green areas and parks.

Original Story: Eje Prime

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

The Land for Spain’s Largest Commercial & Leisure Centre Goes on Sale

21 February 2019 – El Economista

The Madrilenian neighbourhood of Valdebebas is going to become home to the largest commercial and leisure complex in Spain. The first steps to make that possible have been taken today, as the Valdebebas Compensation Board has granted Savills Aguirre Newman the sales mandate for the land on which this new commercial and entertainment space is going to be built, to the north of the city, according to confirmation provided by sector sources speaking to El Economista.

The land has a buildability of 145,790 m2 for commercial space, in addition to a plot for offices measuring more than 35,400 m2 and green areas spanning another 24,500 m2.

The land that is going on sale now has historically been known as the Commercial Block of Valdebebas. Initially, a large shopping centre was planned for the site, but the Compensation Board designed a new plan to build more social housing units and a school. That new plan, approved by the Town Hall of Madrid in 2014, was subsequently appealed and overturned by the Supreme Court, and so the land has been returned to its original use.

According to explanations provided last year by the President of the Valdebebas Compensation Board, César Cort, in an interview with this newspaper, several investors have approached the Compensation Board interested in this plot, however, the Board wants “to carry out a transparent process that is completely secure legally”.

In terms of the price, Cort said that it will be “a high figure”. “When this same product was sold to Metrovacesa and Riofisa, the price amounted to more than €200 million, but it will not necessarily be the same figure”, explained Cort, who assured that “we plan to sell the land during the first half of 2019”.

Residential activity

Currently, around 18,000 people live in Valdebebas and the population is expected to double to around 35,000 inhabitants over the next three to four years.

Besides the launch of the commercial block, the Town Hall of Madrid has already started to grant building permits in the residential market. In this way, there are plans afoot for the construction of 48 residential developments, which will result in the construction of 3,800 homes in total, which represent one third of the 11,400 homes planned for the Valdebebas area.

During the first few months of the year alone, more than 20 developments will obtain licences to begin the construction of 2,000 homes.

Original story: El Economista (by Alba Brualla)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Valdebebas, Castellana Norte & Mahou-Calderón Try to Inject New Life into Madrid

2 December 2017 – Expansión

After years of paralysis in the real estate sector, the reactivation of house sales has come at a time when there are hardly any new build homes available in Madrid.

According to calculations by the real estate consultancy CBRE, the municipality of Madrid and its surrounding areas have an absorption rate of around 20,000 homes per year and yet, the output for the region barely reaches 10,000 units.

In this context, yesterday, the Valdebebas Compensation Board, the last major development area in the north of Madrid, approved the economic “reparcelation” of the whole area, which will be the largest process in the history of Spain, with the aim of reactivating the granting of licences in an area where there is still land available for the development of 3,794 homes.

The aim of the economic “reparcelation” is to put an end to the urban planning problems associated with this development, which relate to the commercial area that was initially planned. “The problems date back to 2013, when modifications were made to the general plan, which included the construction of the largest shopping centre in Europe. The plan was modified to make the shopping centre smaller and to add more homes, most of which were social housing properties”, explain sources at the Valdebebas Compensation Board.

The new plan was legally appealed and in May, a ruling overturned the changes. “The legal ruling caused the Town Hall of Madrid to stop granting licences for the whole area. In light of that paralysis, the only option has been this economic “reparcelation” process (…), which will cost more than €5 million, which the Compensation Board will bear in its entirety”(…). “The “reparcelation” will allow the development of the last major PAU in the north of Madrid, given that in the others, such as in Las Tablas, Sanchinarro and Montecarmelo, there are barely any plots left (…).

The lack of supply has already had an impact on prices. “In two years, land prices in Valdebebas have doubled and, that is inevitably reflected in prices. Whilst before you could find a home for €2,400/m2, now you can’t find anything for less than €3,000/m2”.

Operación Mahou-Calderón

Operación Mahou-Calderón represents the last large plot of land in the central district (…). In total, it comprises 147,050 m2 of buildable land, where around 1,200 homes may be built (…) with prices of around €2,950/m2 (…).

Madrid Nuevo Norte

Operación Chamartín is reinventing itself (…). It has been paralysed for more than 20 years, but the new project includes a reduction in the buildable surface area, which will amount to 2.68 million m2, where 11,000 homes will be built, of which 20% will be social housing properties. With an investment of around €6 billion, construction work is expected to begin in 2019.

Berrocales, Valdecarros and Cerros

Meanwhile, the development of the southeast of Madrid has been put on the back burner. The Compensation Boards responsible for the three urban developments there (Los Berrocales, Valdecarros and Los Cerros), have joined forces in a common platform to promote the construction of more than 100,000 affordable homes over the next 25 years in the southeast of Madrid. Meanwhile, the Town Hall of Madrid is proposing a change to its urban development plans, with a maximum of 27,700 homes between now and 2030, to which another 26,000 may be added by 2039, depending on demand (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Valdebebas Takes First Steps to Unblock its Construction Licences

24 November 2017 – Expansión 

On 30 November, the Valdebebas Compensation Board (Madrid) is going to approve the largest land reparcelling project in history, which will involve the processing of 15,000 registry notifications. That will allow the unblocking of the licence granting procedure, which is affecting almost 4,700 homes, around 40% of the total planned for the area.

In total, 11,400 homes are planned for Valdebebas. Currently, 4,800 units have received their first occupancy licences and another 2,000 are being built. Moreover, 850 homes are under development and 3,800 are pending development. These two last categories are affected by the block imposed. More than 16,000 people already live in Valdebebas and by the end of the year, there will be around 18,000.

“We want to comply with the route map set out by the Town Hall. The mere beginning of this process should give rise to the lifting of the suspension over the granting of licences”, explained the Managing Director of the Board, Marcos Sánchez, to Expansión.

With the economic reparcelling, the pending urban planning charge, which amounts to €30 million, is redistributed. The previous reparcelling, approved in 2015, was annulled by the High Court of Justice (TSJM). It also ruled that the special plan for the so-called ‘Pastilla Comercial’ was void.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

 

“Valdebebas Is Ready To Welcome Companies Post-Brexit”

27 June 2017 – Expansión

Valdebebas – one of the largest urban planning projects in the Community of Madrid, with a land surface area of 10.6 million m2 – has fired the starting gun for what is expected to become the city’s “new financial and technological district”.

“We have land spanning more than 1 million m2 (equivalent to the surface area of almost 140 football pitches) available for tertiary use. People talk about Castellana Norte, but there is no development in Spain quite like Valdebebas. It is already ready to welcome companies from London searching for new locations after Brexit and any other multi-national companies”, explains Marcos Sánchez, Managing Director of the Valdebebas Compensation Board, which represents the owners of the land. Market sources indicate that the land owners include Monthisa, Bisbel, Vivienda Económica, Celteo, Coindeco and Inmobiliaria Espacio.

This business park will comprise twenty blocks, with buildabilities ranging between 9,000 m2 and 110,000 m2. It will house buildings that have between five and fourteen storeys.

The director said that, although they have not yet started “to sell” Valdebebas as a destination for companies, international investors, funds and hotel chains have already expressed their interest in the development: “We are still in the preliminary conversation phases. Until now, contact has been made because interested parties have been approaching us”.

For Sánchez, the aim of Valdebebas is to attract fin-tech companies and others relating to that sector. Moreover, it has the capacity to accommodate between three and four hotels and restaurant brands. “We have direct access to the airport and are well connected to the city centre. It is an unbeatable location in Europe and the world”.

In this sense, it is worth remembering that a bridge is being constructed to connect this area with Barajas Airport – T4, with a forecast investment of more than €20 million. “We have already moved earth and started building the foundations on both sides. The work, which was started in February, is going well and will be finished within two years”, he said.

Valdebebas has several advantages over the potential Operación Chamartín: the immediacy – with “windows of opportunity that can be benefitted from now” – its size and location, according to Sánchez. “Castellana Norte is our natural competitor; despite that we want that site to be developed as soon as possible and in the best way possible because we will all end up winning as a result”, he said.

Legal journey

In terms of the legal position, Sánchez acknowledges that, although Valdebebas has always been very judicialised – construction of between 800 and 1,000 homes has been suspended following a ruling by the Supreme Court – almost 100% of the residential property has been sold, the population already stands at 10,000 people and is set to reach 18,000 by the end of the year. In his opinion, it is “perfectly feasible” to reach agreements before the urbanisation is completed. “All of this administrative and judicial chaos will end when the urbanisation is handed over in two years time”, he said.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Valdebebas: Carmena Cuts 160 Homes & Insists On Social Housing

16 February 2017 – El Confidencial

Fewer homes and no unsubsidised properties. That is the condition that the Town Hall of Madrid has put on the table to unblock the “commercial pill” of Valdebebas, the last plot of land in the area that is still waiting to receive the necessary administrative and legal blessings before the cranes can move in.

On Tuesday, the Town Hall presented its buildable surface area and density proposals for the area, where 1,000 homes were going to be constructed on a plot that was initially going to house the largest shopping centre in Europe.

As expected, the Town Hall has reduced the buildable surface area, although by more than initially expected. Specifically, it has reduced the space allocated to residential use by 18,000 m2, an adjustment that affects almost all of the 14 plots (around 16,000 m2) that Pryconsa acquired from the Compensation Board last year.

The direct consequence of this change is that the company owned by the Colomer family is going to have to recalculate its figures and construct between 140 and 160 fewer homes. This represents a reduction of just over 15% compared to the number initially proposed, all of which were going to be social housing properties.

The other major loser under the Town Hall’s proposal is Premier, the owner of a plot of land allocated for unsubsidised housing, with a buildable surface area of almost 11,000 m2. The Town Hall has said that it must now build in accordance with some kind of protected housing scheme, as well as reduce its buildable surface area by 2,000 m2.

By contrast, the Joyfe College and the Valdecam Cooperative, which acquired land on which to construct 65 social housing properties, will not have to make any changes to their plans (…).

Next steps

After its meeting with the Town Hall on Tuesday, the Valdebebas Compensation Board, which represents almost 5,000 owners in the area, will present the Town Hall’s proposal to its governing board. That body, in which only large landowners participate, may opt to take a decision or may refer it to the assembly, so that all of the owners, and not just the large ones, take the decision.

The problem that the Compensation Board now faces is that it has to reduce the price at which it sold its plots to Pryconsa and Premier, given that the use and buildable surface area of those plots has been modified. This means that it will have fewer resources to allocate to all of the social service works – healthcare, education, sports facilities – that are required in the area. (…) This new proposal emerged after the ruling from the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid (TSJM) last year, which overturned the special plan for the area.

It is possible that the Compensation Board will reject the Town Hall’s plan and wait until the Supreme Court makes its ruling regarding the TSJ’s ruling. The problem is that, if it endorses the existing ruling, it will return to the initial situation, in other words, no homes will be built at all, given that the 109,000 m2 in this area were initially designated for the construction of a large shopping centre.

That would mean having to start conversations with the Town Hall from scratch, whereby further delaying the resolution of the problem. It would also have to deal with land buyers invoking clauses that allow them to break contracts and deprive the whole neighbourhood of a new school that the almost 10,000 residents are anxiously awaiting, given the lack of educational provisions in the area.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Neinor, Dospuntos & Aedas Invest €5,000M In Homes

26 January 2017 – Cinco Días

The fund Castlelake is backing the same market as the funds Lone Star and Värde Partners by resuming construction of new homes. Between the three of them, the US entities have now invested almost €5,000 million in the sector. The latest player to join the party has created the company Aedas Homes, with a land portfolio worth €1,000 million and the capacity to construct 12,000 homes. (…).

Castlelake has been purchasing land in Spain since 2013, when the property crisis was more acute and few international investors were interested in the real estate sector in Spain. In the end, the fund has created an independent company to construct its homes, into which it has placed 1,350 million m2 of land. 90% of those plots are ready to be built on (with permits) and the firm’s strategy is to continue buying.

For this operation, the fund has been advised by Merlin Properties, which is listed on the Ibex 35. The heads of the fund were looking for a recent real estate success story that did not present any conflict of interest – the Socimi is not involved in the residential sector –and so they asked its directors for help. Moreover, of the 45 people that work for the new company Aedas, seven come from the Socimi, specifically, from the former Testa (acquired by Merlin in 2015), given that they had experience in residential development at the now extinct Vallehermoso.

Castlelake is a firm from Minneapolis that manages €8,600 million in assets around the world. (…).

The new real estate company’s plans

Aedas – the name has Latin roots, stemming from the word to build – will construct homes in seven provinces: Madrid, Barcelona, Alicante, Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Málaga and Sevilla. “We are committed to the areas where there is clear residential demand”, said David Martínez Montero (pictured above), Director General at Aedas. Martínez Montero previously led the Operación Chamartín project between 2013 and 2016, the Valdebebas Compensation Board and the Cuatro Torres project in Madrid.

The new company is going to launch 14 developments to construct 1,000 homes, with the aim of finishing them by the end of the year and handing them over between 2018 and 2019. These homes will be located in Madrid (capital, Boadilla and Las Rozas); Barcelona (Hospitalet, Sabadell and Vilanova i la Geltrú); Sevilla (in the capital and in Dos Hermanas); Valencia (capital and Denia); and Estepona (Málaga).

Aedas is not proposing a pre-determined rate of investment or committing to building a specific number of homes per year. “It will depend on how the market absorbs our first 1,000 homes. We are not going to make the same mistakes as in the past”, said Martínez Montero. The company’s strategy involves tackling the primary residential market with urban products for middle class buyers, a segment where demand exists. (…). The directors of the company believe that there is a need for new builds given that hardly any new homes have been built in the last decade.

The arrival of the funds

It is the same theory that the other funds that have burst onto the residential scene are applying. The first was Neinor Homes, owned by the Texan firm Lone Star, with the plan to invest €2,000 million in land and building homes. That company was created from the business purchased from Kutxabank (…).

The next to emerge was Dospuntos, created by Värde Partners, from the ashes of the San José Group’s real estate division, which plans to invest €2,000 million between now and 2021. (…).

Original story: Cinco Días (by Alfonso Simón Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Valdebebas’ Legal Problems: The End Is In Sight

21 September 2016 – El Mundo

The capital’s residential sector has endured several months of uncertainty, awaiting the ruling from the Supreme Court (TS) regarding the appeals filed against the express review of Madrid’s Urban Planning General Plan, undertaken by the Town Hall of Madrid during Ana Botella’s mandate.

The ruling, which the Supreme Court finally published on Tuesday, validates the legality of the PGOUM and means that urban development can now resume in the capital with a sound legal base. The main beneficiary of this ruling is the area of Valdebebas, affected by a first instance judgement from the Dispute Tribunal number 24 in Madrid, which declared the economic urban planning project null and void in July.

As a result of this ruling, the Town Hall notified the Valdebebas Compensation Board at the beginning of August that “on criteria of prudence”, it would suspend the granting of all new construction permits until it was aware of the meaning of the ruling from the Supreme Court. This setback represented the latest obstacle in a long list of legal proceedings that Valdebebas has been involved in since 2012.

According to sources, this legal uncertainty and the questions regarding the meaning of the ruling from the Supreme Court have paralysed some important land purchase operations – they have been delayed until the contents of the ruling are known. Now, and after hearing the ruling from the Supreme Court, the Valdebebas Compensation Board believes that normality will return.

In this sense, according to a statement, the Board will request the Town Hall of Madrid for “its support to restore the urban planning instruments (that were recently cancelled) as soon as possible, so as to be able to offer all of the legal guarantees necessary to neighbours, cooperatives and property developers”. The Board says “that it does not see any reason for the Town Hall to maintain its recent stance of suspending the processing and granting of construction licences”.

“It is time to implement solutions and we are going to urgently seek the necessary collaboration with the Town Hall”, said Jorge Serrano, manager of the Valdebebas Compensation Board.

“Today we are all celebrating the support for the decisions and developments made and for the opportunities being presented to continue to respond in a normalised and sustainable way to the growing residential demand that Madrid is experiencing at the moment”, he added.

The ruling has partially upheld some of the appeals, annulling the Transitory Disposition of the Agreement dated 1 August 2013, which sought to provide retroactive effects, but has limited its annulling effects exclusively to three urban planning projects that were carried out following the ruling from the Supreme Court on 28 September 2012 and until the resolution to approve the general plan was agreed on 1 August 2013.

According to an explanation provided by the Compensation Board in a note, in the case of Valdebebas, the ruling affects only the construction licence granted in 2012 for plot 168 (Residencial Adhara), which has been cancelled, although that does not have any practical impact given that the building on that land is covered by a subsequent licence granted in 2014.

Original story: El Mundo (by Luis M. De Ciria)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Speculation Returns To The Market For Land In Madrid & Along The Coast

11 April 2016 – ABC

During the years of the crisis, investors regarded land as one of the least attractive assets. In fact, in the face of scarce demand and the paralysis in the construction sector, land values fell to historic lows. (…).

Sales of urban land, the substratum of real estate developments, are growing again after nine years of consecutive decreases. And they are doing so at a healthy – and on occasion, vertiginous – rate in certain areas of the country where the housing market has already started its recovery, such as the more illustrious areas of major cities, including the north of Madrid and established areas along the coast (Málaga, Palma de Mallorca and the Canary Islands). So much so that a warning is now spreading amongst analysts and agents in the sector: the scarcity of developable land – which does not require land planning approval – in certain areas, and renewed interest from investors is generating a new “overheating” in the price of transactions, something not seen since the burst of the real estate bubble.

The latest “Market Trends” report prepared by Solvia, the real estate arm of Banco Sabadell, warns that the expectation of a strong recovery in value is incubating operations of a speculative nature. “The fact that the supply of well-located land is scarce in areas with demand, that there is widespread liquidity in the market and that there is fierce competition to acquire assets, means that land purchases are being made for speculative purposes, in certain specific cases, for subsequent resale at significantly higher prices”.

In this sense, the study, which does not cite who is behind such transactions, highlights the cases of the Madrilenian neighbourhoods of Valdebebas and Montecarmelo. In the case of the latter, the price of land has risen by between 40% and 60% to €2,400/m2.

Montecarmelo and Valdebebas

Fernando Rodríguez de Acuña, Director General of Operations at the consultancy firm RR de Acuña y Asociados distinguishes between three players in the race for land: the financial entities and large investors, who have put their assets up for sale “in stages” and the small and medium-sized funds, which are more prone to speculative operations given that they seek high short-term yields. The confluence of these players has given rise to a situation in which both the activity and value of these real estate assets have increased significantly, if we exclude the statistical effect of operations carried out by financial entities foreclosing unpaid debt. Thus, the number of transactions carried out by operators in the sector (developers, funds and cooperatives) increased by 37% in 2015 compared with the year before and by 60% in terms of transaction volume. (…).

According to the experts, two operations in particular have caused prices in the land market in the Spanish capital to sky-rocket: firstly, the sale of 14 plots containing more than 93,000 m2 of buildable space, by the Valdebebas Compensation Board to the property developer Pryconsa for more than €55 million and secondly, the acquisition of a plot of land in Montecarmelo by Cogesa, which belongs to the Dragados group, for more than €20 million. (…).

Original story: ABC (by Luis M. Ontoso)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Valdebebas: Supreme Court Ruling Undermines Construction Plans

28 March 2016 – El Confidencial

Madrid’s High Court of Justice (TSJM) has dealt another fatal blow to the PAU real estate developments of Ciudad Aeroportuaria and Parque Valdebebas, the area in the north of the capital, where around 12,000 homes are expected to be built. According to a ruling on 4 March, the Administrative Litigation Division has partially accepted the appeal filed by the Association for Responsible Urban Development and has declared null and void the Special Land Sub-division Plan.

The decision by the First Section of the TSJM’s Administrative Litigation Division, chaired by Francisco Javier Canabal, overthrows the approval agreed by the Town Hall of Madrid on 30 October 2014, which modified the detailed plan APE 16.11 for the Ciudad Aeroportuaria and Parque Valdebebas. Although the Town Hall, now chaired by Manuela Carmena, the Community of Madrid, led by Cristina Cifuentes, and the Valdebebas Compensation Board called for the dismissal of the appeal presented in February 2015, the fact is that the ruling calls into question the urban development once again even though it had already been approved by the various administrations.

The plaintiffs allege that the Special Plan, dated 30 October 2014, modified the buildability of the area to include a large shopping centre in the development, with the allocation of space amounting to 145,794 m2 and an annex to it, measuring 36,488 m2 for other tertiary use. The Court emphasised that the Association “was right” when it said that this plan “modifies the structural organisation”, since land transformation operations inherently require an appropriate relationship between public space and collective amenities, and population density. (…).

The Town Hall and Community of Madrid must now decide whether to submit an appeal against this decision, a position that is difficult to adopt given that the new heads of Ahora Madrid and the PP in the aforementioned institutions have inherited a lawsuit fought by their predecessors, Ana Botella and Ignacio González. Moreover, they should take into account that in May the resolution is expected of a previous appeal against improprieties conducted by the Town Hall of Madrid, with the correction of the General Urban Plan (PGOU) approved in August 2013, an emergency action through which the Town Hall corrected the legality of Valdebebas, which had been suspended months earlier, following a ruling issued by the Supreme Court in September 2012.

Pryconsa, in question

But, the factor that calls everything into question, above all, are the plans of Pryconsa, which in December 2015, purchased 14 plots of land from the Valdebebas Compensation Board for €56.7 million. It acquired 92,000 m2 of buildable land, where it plans to build between 900 and 1,000 social housing properties (VPPL). Pryconsa paid just over approximately €600/m2 for the land, a price that is significantly below the €800/m2 that the Compensation Board obtained for one of the VPPL plots that it put up for auction after the summer and which was sold to the cooperative Esta Gestión 100, backed by the architect Enrique Toboada.

That operation ate up the last residential land assets owned by the Compensation Board and practically used up all of the land allocated to social housing in this urban development, given that now less than 5,000 m2 of land remains available. Moreover, following the transaction, only one third of the residential land is available in this area. The plots awarded are located next to one of the main squares in the new neighbourhood, close to the future shopping centre and JOYFE school, whose land also formed part of the assets sold by the Compensation Board, and where construction work is expected to begin soon.

Following the TSJM’s decision, all of these plans have been thrown back up in the air, a real setback for the developers that have bought land in this area of Madrid, located to the south of La Moraleja neighbourhood and to the north of the IFEMA exhibition grounds.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Agustín Marco)

Translation: Carmel Drake