New large companies negotiate to join as shareholders to Reborn, the developer company that will invest in the urban rehabilitation of Azca, the financial heart of Madrid. Pontegadea, El Corte Inglés, HI Partners (Blackstone hotel) Y Mutua Madrileña are in talks to join the project as it progresses Miguel Hernández, CEO of Renazca.
This company was created by the Socimis Merlin Properties and GMP and in which Alba Patrimonio Inmobiliario and Monthisa already participate as partners. They are four of the most relevant office owners in that neighborhood. These shareholders should carry out the talks to add more companies.
The Azca area – in the west of the Castellana axis from Nuevos Ministerios to the south and to General Perón to the north – has been degraded for years by the nooks, slopes, passageways and nightlife areas that cause citizens and employees of the large companies located there see it as a dirty and unsafe space. For years, various municipal councils have tried to improve the area without success. For this reason, Merlin and GMP joined forces so that it was the private sector that took the initiative with the endorsement of the Madrid City Council.
Renazca has recently chosen the winning urbanization project in the area in an international competition. The team of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (architects), Gustafson Porter + Bowman (landscapers) and B720 Fermín Vázquez Arquitectos.
The design of the financial district of Azca dates from 1964, when this area began to be built parallel to the axis of the Castellana that occupies about 20 hectares. In this environment some of the most emblematic office buildings of the city rise, such as the Torre Picasso (owned by Pontegadea, the family office de Amancio Ortega), the former headquarters of BBVA (now GMP) or Torre Europa (Infinorsa). El Corte Inglés, for example, has Torre Titania, the Nuevos Ministerios department store and a future building in the current car park next to its shopping center. For its part, Blackstone has the Holiday Inn hotel there.
Renazca partners will invest around 25 million euros in the development, to be distributed among shareholders according to the relevance of each company as the owner of offices or commercial spaces in the area. Large owners such as Mapfre o Infinorsa (owner of Torre Europa). The intention of the promoters is that the works begin in the summer of 2022.
The study Diller Scofidio + Renfro is internationally recognized for the iconic High Line urban reclamation project in New York. In Azca, his proposal is the creation of a huge park in this superblock, including a canal, fountains and water games, which rescue the bed of a pre-existing river prior to the construction of Azca.
Hernández explains the reasons why Diller Scofidio + Renfro prevailed over other architecture studios: “We did not want a large monument, but a place where citizens can walk without the barrier that Azca is now. We wanted a project of integration with the neighborhoods and with the city ”.
“We have also realized that this district, that of Tetouan, is very lacking in green areas of that size”, Hernández highlights. “Parks are spaces for coexistence, spaces for citizens, who act as glue. Just this team has a spectacular experience because they made the High Lane in New York, in which on some abandoned roads they devised a large park that gave support and was the link to everything they were going through ”, he insists.
“That is why we found it very interesting that the team we selected had a very successful experience in how to stitch up all the wounds of these poorly conceptualized performances,” adds Hernández. “In the 21st century, if there is a keyword in urban planning, it is sustainability. This project is not that it is sustainable in itself, but rather that it improves the deficits in the environment that are not covered ”, he indicates. From the election of the winning team, Renazca has begun a process of dialogue with different interest groups so that they can contribute their improvement proposals.
“Since the project was chosen, we have been talking to merchants, residents of the area, with an association of Parkour, with the owners of the buildings… With all this, we have given the architects a new information pack to show the opinions of the groups. The winner has to readjust the project with these conditions ”, details the executive of Renazca, an urban architect who is also the strategy director of the North Castellana District.
The rehabilitation of Azca is among those known as the Villa Agreements, signed unanimously by all political groups, as measures to reactivate the city after the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic. A protocol has already been signed with the city council of the capital, which must approve the works in which Renazca will be the agent that urbanizes, defrays the expenses and also subsequently takes charge of the maintenance.
“The solution that is going to be made to the city council is the private management of the area, maintenance and security,” says the general director of Renazca.