Basque Country: in Espelette, the City Council and a private investor compete for a 600 m² building in the heart of the town

Basque Country: in Espelette, the City Council and a private investor compete for a 600 m² building in the heart of the town

Enrique Gérard describes “a very…

Enrique Gérard describes “a very degraded building, unoccupied for years”. However, with the exception of a stall on the ground floor, where the AOP Ossau-Iraty has a shop. “Upstairs, it’s unhealthy, everything has to be redone. The merchant, in charge of 12 shops in the Basque Country, foresees 1.3 million euros of work, “perhaps more”, to create eight floors there. And he swears that he wants to rent at social. “This is a project that I am going to finance thanks to the help of Anah (1). The counterpart is to make social housing. »

Claim some experience. In Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, she rehabilitated a building into five apartments: “Four social and one very social. It is rented 365 euros for 70 m² in social and 200 for 55 m² in very social. “Except that the municipality of Espelette, too, intends to create social. Therefore, it was brought forward, through the establishment of local public lands. The acquisition is made at the price estimated by the Estates, that is, 810,000 euros.

I am not a philanthropist, I create an estate for my children. But I don’t buy resale or Airbnb


For the investor, the municipal voluntarism would be explained above all by the responsibilities between him and the city council. He acquired the old Spar convenience store, in front of the market, which he converted into the “Patxi sale”. The city would have preferred a power supply. “They proposed to Carrefour, to Leclerc. He didn’t follow. The purchase price is 380,000 euros, a grocery store would not be profitable. Enrique Gérard has settled down. He also bought the adjoining buildings. “Since then, everything I ask for is rejected,” he says.

To appropriate or not to anticipate?

This is the question that the elected officials of Espelette had to decide on the premises of the old Spar, bought by the private investor Enrique Gérard. For the opposition group Eskuz Esku, Yannick Jauréguy pushed in this direction. “A majority preferred not to do it, because the private buyer in the race was in the process with the owner. The municipality preferred to stay out of this complicated file. We think we should have taken it on. »
The mayor, Jean-Marie Iputcha, describes a consensus on the principle of preference. But he confirms the fear of the procedure then in progress: “We would have recovered all that. It was risky for the commune funds. »

The investor already owns two “social housing” in the town and plans to create four more. It is objected that the public power is in his role when he tries to control the land and produce social housing. That a social landlord offers more guarantees regarding the sustainability of said housing. That the self-regulatory magic of the market has not particularly proven its worth in the real estate market of the Basque Country… “I’m not a philanthropist, he agrees, I’m creating a patrimony for my children. “If it exempts passing taxes, it refutes any speculative desire. “I do not buy resale or Airbnb type rentals. »

I think it’s the lower floors that you’re interested in trading.


The mayor, Jean-Marie Iputcha, does not intend to trust the simple word of a private investor. “Anah’s help pays for itself after ten years, after the owner does what he wants. He can resell. Contacted by ” Sud Ouest “, Anah specifies this: ” The landlord who has benefited from our help is obliged to practice a regulated rent for five years, after which he is no longer subject to this framework. It is the same with the sale »

The first magistrate “seems bizarre” this desire to “do social work” by “someone from outside the municipality.” “I think it is the ground floors that interest him for trading. We, the community, do not seek profit. Our social housing will continue to be. »

This is the stated goal. “We will work with social landlords, HSAs, Office 64 or the LOC. We have less and less building space, we want to densify the city center, so that the empty buildings do not remain empty. “And try to rebalance a heart of a people petrified in tourist activity, due to the seasonal essence. The municipality is targeting “two other buildings.”

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