Madrid, New Masterplans

Operation Chamartín


In the continuous pumping of capital and expectations that the economy is, it seems to be an expansion time in Spain, at least in the capital, which has announced the resurrection of its most ambitious urban plan ever: Operation Chamartín. Conceived back in 1993, the plan went through a slow and tiresome gestation that culminated in 2011, when it was finally approved, but just two years later, in 2013, at the peak of the economic crisis, the city courts annulled it on the grounds that it violated the real estate laws then in force, in particular the absurd height limit of four floors in new urban developments. With the law revoked, and the BBVA banking group’s interest in taking on as much as 75% of the overall investment required, amounting to about 6 billion euros, we can expect the agreement to carry out Operation Chamartín to be finalized soon, before this May’s municipal elections, and if all goes well, construction work could well be underway by the end of the year. The details of the plan are astonishing: the burying of railway tracks in a 24-hectare territory; the prolongation of the Paseo de la Castellana by a good 3.7 kilometers; the freeing up of 3.1 million square meters of land; the construction of 17,000 housing units and several skyscrapers over 300 meters tall… The BBVA president has had this to say about the operation: “I don’t know if it will be profitable for our company, but it will certainly be for Madrid.” Nevertheless, considering recent nationalizations, bank rescue plans, and other mournful facts, one cannot help hoping that the operation will be beneficial to the banks as well.

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