The iconic Agbar Tower in Barcelona (or as John prefers to call it, “the dildo”) will not become a Grand Hyatt Hotel according to several reports.
Emin Capital and Westmont Hospitality Group, the Project developers, announced a couple days ago that they were withdrawing the project due to the “wear” that has supposed the processing of the construction licenses with Barcelona local authorities, being unsuccessful in obtaining them since 2013.
The Spanish press reports that the developers closed a deal with Merlin Properties for 142 million Euros. According to the deal, the buyer commits to invest 15 million Euros in the renovation of the building for office space. The prior plans included the conversion of the 37,614 sq. meters (approx. 405,000 sq. ft.) of usable space into more than 400 luxury rooms, meeting/convention space and a tourist observatory, taking advantage of the unobstructed 360º views at the top of the tower.
The developers blamed Barcelona’s Mayor and the City Council for the failure of the project, specifically mentioning the multiple delays and obstructions they encountered when processing the construction licenses, which started in 2013, and up to now was not granted by the local authorities.
The City Council, on the other hand, declared that despite the fact the project transformation was a private decision of the developers, the change in the property use could be considered a victory for the City Hall. Let’s remember that Barcelona City Hall declared in June 2015 a moratorium on the granting of new licences for hotel activities, pending on the passing of a new city soil uses bylaw.
It can be understood that some of the major tourist cities in the world are taking steps in regulating the effects of tourism into the housing market, especially due to the proliferation of tourist apartment rentals in the central areas of the city.
What is more difficult to understand is that the Barcelona City Hall is obstructing the development of a hotel on an already existing property in one of the new developing areas of the city. Switching the property use from commercial to hotel would hardly impact the neighbors, especially in a low-population area as where the building is located.
This is the second big hotel project Barcelona City Hall is obstructing (the first being the failed Four Seasons). Meanwhile, the city seems not to be able to propose a reasonable solution for the tourist flat rental market, which is the one that directly affects the housing market and the quality of life in the tourist areas.