BarcelonaThe tension is palpable inside the DFactory, the headquarters of the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona (CZFB), since a few weeks ago the celebration of a new event dedicated to the real estate sector was confirmed at the Fira de Barcelona: The District, organized by the company Nebext and chaired by the well-known real estate investor Juan Velayos. The news did not go down well with the CZFB, which received it as an attack on the emblematic real estate fair Barcelona Meeting Point (BMP), founded by Enrique Lacalle and currently managed by the Consortium. “They think they’re coming to replace the Meeting Point, but we don’t think they’ll succeed,” a source from the institution assures ARA.
The fact is that the first edition of The District will be held between October 19 and 21 at the Montjuïc site of the Fira de Barcelona, exactly on the same dates when a BMP was traditionally held that will not take place this year . In fact, on several occasions there have been doubts about the continuity of the Meeting Point, which after the pandemic was included as one of the sectoral salons of the BNEW, and it was not clear whether it would again have an entity on its own.
The Consortium’s explanation is that after the pandemic they wanted to evaluate a “reformulation” of the well-known congress, claiming that “in recent years people have changed the way they buy real estate and look for housing, and, therefore, the event also had to be refocused towards these new habits,” they say from the institution. “It is for this reason that it was decided to include the Meeting Point as a branch of the BNEW until the new formula was found”, they comment.
For many, this marked the end of the BMP and it was then that Nebext, the organizer of well-known congresses such as Advanced Factories in Barcelona or Rebuild in Madrid, led by Albert Planas, took advantage of the void left by the Consortium . Planas proposed for the presidency of The District Juan Velayos, former CEO of Renta Corporación and founding partner of the investment company JV20, who in statements to the ARA explains that “the gap in the BMP has been taken advantage of, but now it will be different, will be a fair more aimed at investors in real estate than to the general public as was the BMP”.
This upset the institution led by Pere Navarro, and was a turning point for the return of the BMP: “The Meeting Point is not dead and therefore no one is replacing it. At the moment it is held together with the BNEW and already we announced that it will be held independently again in 2023, by then we will have had time to reformulate it,” the Consortium says.
And how will he return? “It will have a more modern format, more designed for the new ways of looking for housing and also rewarding sustainability in the real estate. We don’t know if it will have the same name, but the most important thing is that it will come back, and it will come back better,” the Consortium said.
The reference BMP
The Barcelona Meeting Point was born in 1997, founded by the renowned businessman Enrique Lacalle, and since then it has positioned itself as the reference show in the real estate sector throughout Spain. Lacalle himself, contacted by the ARA, assures that “replacing a BMP is very difficult, and in the few months they have been preparing The District I doubt they will succeed, but we will see”. In fact, in Lacalle’s words, the Meeting Point came to fill 22,000 square meters at the Fair, more than 250 exhibitors and between 30,000 and 40,000 visitors.
Although Lacalle already looks at it from a distance – he left the presidency of the BMP in 2015–, he does consider that “it was more logical for the Consortium to organize both the real estate fair and the SIL logistics fair, because it was all very productive for the city and for the sectors. Now we’ll see what happens.”
As the Consortium explains to the ARA, “The District wanted to do a joint project with the CZFB, but in the end no agreement was reached because it was not at all clear from the institution.” Velayos, however, denies it: “There has been no intention to do anything jointly with the Consortium, as far as I know.”
The vision of one and the other is radically different. “They have been taken advantage of,” they receive from the Consortium. On the other hand, bearing in mind that the Barcelona Meeting Point intends to regain its place from next year and that, at the same time, The District is born with an “annual vocation”, will both congresses be able to coexist?
According to the investor, “there shouldn’t be any problem and it would be logical for the two events to coexist, because the DNA between one and the other is quite different.” But according to the Consortium “they could coexist, but it makes no sense, the BMP has always been and must remain the real estate fair of reference”.
For its part, the Consorci de la Zona Franca will present on Wednesday, September 28 the third edition of the BNEW, which will be held between October 3 and 6 and will maintain the real estate branch with what at another time would have been the BMP.
The keys to The District, the new Barcelona fair for ‘real estate’ investors
The president of The District, Juan Velayos, assures that the main characteristic feature of The District is that it will focus on investors in real estate, a sector “partly undervalued” in terms of congresses and which “has not had its proper event until now”. The investor explains that this new congress “is not so focused on the product, but will be marked by topics that interest the capital, such asequity and the debt”. In addition, it will only open an exhibition part to the general public on the last day of the event.
“I think that Catalonia and Spain do not have a big event designed for investors with their own DNA, that talks about what interests the capital, and I think that there should be. Barcelona has not been listed as real estate friendly [amable amb el real estate]”.
In this first edition, The District expects around 7,000 attendees and the organizers hope that it will “consolidate year after year to be the major congress of reference in the real estate sector”. Some of the confirmed exhibitors are AEDAS Homes, Anticipa, CBRE, JLL, NEINOR Homes and Servihabitat, among others.