New characters swarm around Barcelona. Dicharacheros, dynamic, talkative … They telephone the offices of the hotels in the city, especially the center , to establishments run by small and medium-sized local businessmen, and they claim to represent a Saudi investment fund, a wealthy Catalan family that he prefers to remain anonymous, to a powerful group of foreign businessmen willing to do business … “And they tell you that they know you want to sell your hotel , that they would like to know in what figure you are thinking …”, says Carles Francisco , CEO of a three-star hotel and 80 rooms on Princesa Street, owned by two families in the city.
Everything is a lie . These characters do not represent any Saudi. When they find a hotelier who plans to sell they start the buyer’s search. And they say they represent the owners of a downtown hotel. That may seem expensive. But thanks to the moratorium and how the Special Urban Plan for Tourist Accommodation (Peuat) is outlined , the hotels will do nothing but go up. In a year, any multinational will pay double what you paid. Safe money. “Yes, remember that bubble,” Francisco says. “In times of uncertainty, speculators appear.”
Recently, Deputy Mayor Janet Sanz announced that, given the rain of allegations, the Peuat will not be approved definitively before the fall. The moratorium that prevents the opening of new tourist places will not end this July, as planned by the mayor Ada Colau a year ago. It will end in autumn … if the government finds enough political support. Otherwise, it may continue until next year. According to industry sources, this suspension has already stopped the investment of 543 million euros. We talk mostly about projects of small and medium entrepreneurs, savings of years and loans to respond to. The sources also estimate that the suspension also stopped the creation of a thousand direct jobs and another thousand indirect jobs.
The Princess Hotel Advisor adds that years ago they bought a building to expand their business. “In addition, we had to buy more than 30 licenses. In Ciutat Vella, due to restrictions, there was always an alternative licensing market, a market that is now becoming more expensive … We had everything ready, and we were informed that the moratorium left everything in the air, that we were not given the works license. We are very discouraged. Our building deteriorates, we have to pay your mortgage, worry about squats … and we do not generate a euro. In addition, as the Peuat is outlined, I doubt that later we will approve the extension. We are not speculators, we do not want to sell. We were going to create 14 jobs. We will have to sue the City Council. ” And on top of that, he adds, he plans the happy urban disconformity …
Because the fear of urban discontent grows among the businessmen
so that Peuat’s restrictions condemn the business itself to a limbo where one can not remodel his business because his street is too narrow, because his rooms do not occupy the entire estate, because. .. And that, they warn, will mean the degradation of the most modest. Insurance agencies and financial institutions already look at them with different eyes. The renewal of policies and the obtaining of credits, even in a timid way, they assure in these circles, they begin to grow thin, they say many times from anonymity. Many entrepreneurs do not like to confront the administration.
“This favors the multinationals -three Juan Sanchez, one of the founders of Best Price-, who take their decisions very far and do not care to invest in Barcelona, Singapore or New York. The little ones leave us out of the game. We are two brothers who left the bank to dedicate ourselves to this after seeing so many tourists at the Park Güell. My son’s school was next, and I, one day … ” They opened an establishment in Diagonal, by Sant Martí, and another in Gràcia. “One star hotels that look three, good, affordable … And we wanted to expand the Diagonal and open another near the hospital of Sant Pau. We signed contracts with the owners of the real estate, prepared the projects, assumed commitments and payments … and suddenly we found ourselves face to face with the moratorium. Now I do not have much hope. The Peuat poses too many restrictions. Settling in entire buildings, buying a lot of licenses … These are conditions that only multinationals can face. Now we look at Girona, at Madrid, at cities that do not put so many difficulties … “.
“It’s very frustrating,” says Marc Gual. It’s five years of work overboard, a lot of money and illusions … Unless you have a large capital, making a hotel out of nothing takes several years, but this situation is very difficult to sustain. ” For more than ten, Gual set about setting up hotels for others on half the planet. But then he wanted to open his own, he associated with friends, he looked for investors, he got into debt, he opened establishments in Mozambique, Mallorca, Sant Cugat. “In the end we will have to put a lawsuit against the City Council. Meanwhile, we look for other possibilities in the Balearic Islands and the Basque Country. It’s not what we wanted, we’re from here, from Barcelona, but money does not know how to wait, it has to move, and the foreign capital we get will not have as much patience as we do. In addition, we must respond to the credits we ask for. We have a site in Sant Martí prepared, a project of about 150 rooms, a parking lot … But the restrictions that are in place stifle our profitability forecasts. I do not have much hope. We were going to create 70 jobs. We can not have an investment of 14 million euros so long in the air. “
“The City Council is not looking after the interests of the entire city
explain the owners of numbers 2 and 4 of the Isabel II walk, and I suppose that when they pass the Peuat we will have to go to court to get some kind of exceptionality. Given the historical restrictions of Ciutat Vella and the monumental character of these buildings, it took us five years to overcome the paperwork, and then for just a few days we were affected by the moratorium. We do not harm the neighborhood, we do not throw anyone out of their homes, these floors were always for people passing through, the reforms were very conditioned and very complicated … The administration is holding back an investment of around three million. Meanwhile, we have dedicated some flats to the seasonal rental, mainly to port professionals. Everything is getting too long. “
Terraces, a year of uncertainty
The last few months have been especially hard for Santiago Escobedo, especially disturbing and uncertain … His restaurant, The Extremeño , he enjoyed for about a quarter of a century five tables on the street Malats and another five on Meridiana Avenue. Last year, the City Council informed him that due to various neighborhood complaints he was losing the terrace of Malats, and then, shortly, they let him know that, under the new ordinance, his other night watchman would be reduced to a table with two chairs. “The truth is that I’m ashamed to put them,” he said then, very indignant, very worried. Instead of putting a terrace it looks like I’m throwing furniture in the trash. I thought that for the 25 years of the business the City Council would give me an insert,
but it seems that what they want is for me to retire early. I, without terrace, I can not get the accounts to fit me. Some months I have to pull my savings. I already removed the TV because I had to pay 30 euros, I already removed the tobacco machine to avoid having to pay so many taxes … and I had to fire an employee, and if the thing does not improve I will have no choice but to fire the other person That helps me. We will be alone, my wife and me. I do not want to retire like that, after so many years, with so much pain … but if things do not change, I do not think I’ll last more than a year “. After making a strict application of the ordinance, the City is reviewing some cases, trying to be more flexible. Now the municipal technicians understand that The Extremeño You can have three tables with two chairs each. At least some couples may come … A little oxygen, not much, after a year of uncertainty.