At number 43 of General Manso Street in Sant Feliu de Llobregat, there is a block of 56 houses whose construction was halfway with the bursting of the housing bubble. On the outside it is practically finished , it only needs to seal some windows. Even the non-residential areas of the building – an underground car park and a supermarket – are already full of activity.
However, no one lives in this block of flats. Only the columns are inside . Not even the walls that separate the floors have been made. There are no supplies or services either. It is completely empty . It is a half-finished work, accumulating dust since 2012. “Sometimes they come at night during the weekends to do parties and botellón”, relates a neighbor of the area.
And it is that a private developer started the project a decade ago, in 2008. But now six years ago he could not take over the mortgage credit he contracted with Caja Granada and then the financial institution disappeared like so many others during the banking crisis. Finally the mortgage ended up in the hands of the Asset Management Company from the Bank Restructuring, popularly known by its acronym Sareb or as bad bank .
It was then when the City Council of Sant Feliu de Llobregat began a long way to take over the ownership of the block, with the goal of allocating the floors to protected housing as property and, above all, rent. In fact, the consistory owns two houses from the beginning. “We want to make social floors,” says Housing Councilor Lídia Muñoz. But the negotiations with Sareb , which since the end of 2015 are being carried out by the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB) that acts on behalf of the City Council, do not bear fruit .
“We doubled the price from one day to another,” denounces the City Council
“With the help of the AMB, we are ready to finish the works of the block and put the floors on the market to face the growing demand for affordable housing in Sant Feliu de Llobregat,” Muñoz continues. The local administrations are looking for a three-way agreement – owner, Sareb and AMB – but they can not.
“When we were about to close the acquisition of the building by the AMB for two million euros, we claimed four,” protests the mayor of Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Jordi San José. “Then they asked us for five,” he continues. ” They doubled the price of one day for the other without explanation, ” adds the housing councilor. “We want a fair, affordable price,” ditches the mayor.
La Sareb denies responsibility for the building
The negotiations are stuck but with the owner there is agreement, according to the City Council. A “small part of the floors would be given to him so that he could recover the investment” realized in the structure of the property, details the mayor of Sant Feliu.
However, Sareb denies that it has any responsibility in this case . Sources of this organism argue to La Vanguardia that they “are only the owners of the loan” and that the “power belongs to the owner”. “We can not do anything,” these sources resolve.
“This was exposed to the City Council at the time, during the contacts we have had”, insist from the Sareb. “We do not have the power to do or undo this particular building”, they say.
Indignation shared between City Hall and neighbors
The issue has outraged the City of Sant Feliu de Llobregat. The municipal government and the opposition have unanimously approved a motion for Sareb to sell the empty farm once and for all . In the same sense, the plenary session of the AMB has been pronounced.
The neighbors do not understand the situation either. “The logical thing is that these floors are for people and not a lot of empty years,” says Jesus Tejada, who lives in the blocks next door. “It does not make sense,” he adds. At the same time, remember the commitment that this promotion would provide “parking spaces for the residents of the area” and that for now the promise has been “breached”.
Lídia Muñoz, Councilor for Housing of the City Council of Sant Feliu
“It’s outrageous about this block,” said another neighbor, Paco Romero, who was president of a neighborhood entity in the city for years and is now part of the Platform for Affected by Mortgages (PAH). “Sant Feliu needs social housing, we feel it in the PAH day by day, we have to recover this block of flats for the city,” he says.
“Last week I was talking to a neighbor on Barcelona Street who doubled the rental price when renewing a contract,” he explains. “You can go to the street,” criticizes Romero. The pressure on rental prices in the capital has been extended to the metropolitan area of Barcelona as an expansive wave.
“We have to prioritize a public policy of metropolitan housing to create public patrimony,” reasons Jordi San José, who is in fact vice president of the Institut Metropolità de Promoció del Sòl i Gestió Patrimonial (IMPSOL), a body dependent on the AMB.
This mayor of ICV believes that it is impossible to find a solution to the problem of rent if each City Council makes war on its own. It is the same thesis held by the housing expert Carme Trilla, who has presided over the Metropolitan Housing Observatory since July, in a recent interview with La Vanguardia .
Protest in front of the property
This Tuesday some fifty neighbors have attended an act of protest to put pressure on Sareb and find a solution to the case. It was held in the Plaza de la Solidaritat, with the controversial building just behind. It involved Lucía Martín, deputy in the Congress of Deputies by En Comú Podem. “As always, it is very difficult to govern with Sareb,” he said, at the same time claiming “a change of state law” to regulate the rent. The proposal, at the moment, seems to have little route.