in Espelette, the City and a private investor are fighting over a 600 m² building in the heart of the village

in Espelette, the City and a private investor are fighting over a 600 m² building in the heart of the village

Enrique Gérard describes “a very…

Enrique Gérard describes “a very degraded building, unoccupied for years”. With the exception, however, of a stall on the ground floor, where the AOP Ossau-Iraty has a storefront. “Upstairs, it’s unsanitary, everything has to be redone. “The trader, at the head of 12 shops in the Basque Country, plans 1.3 million euros of work, “perhaps more”, to create eight apartments there. And swears he wants to rent in social. “It is a project that I will finance thanks to the aid of theAnah (1). The counterpart being to make social housing. »

He claims some experience. In Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, he rehabilitated a building into five apartments: “Four in social and one in 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. It therefore pre-empted, via the local public land establishment. The acquisition is made at the price estimated by the Estates, ie 810,000 euros.

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


For the investor, the municipal voluntarism would be explained above all by the liabilities between him and the town hall. He acquired the old Spar convenience store, facing the market, which he turned into the “venta Patxi”. The City would have preferred a power supply. “They proposed to Carrefour, to Leclerc. It 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 refused,” he says.

To preempt or not to preempt?

This is the question that the elected officials of Espelette had to decide, about the premises of the former 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 so, because the private buyer in the running was in the process with the owner. The municipality preferred to stay out of this complicated file. We think we should have assumed it. »
The mayor, Jean-Marie Iputcha, describes a consensus on the principle of preemption. But he confirms the fear in front of the procedure then in progress: “We would have recovered all that. It was risky for the funds of the commune. »

The investor already owns two “social housing” in the village and plans to create four more. It is objected that the public power is in its role when it tries to control land and produce social housing. That a social landlord offers more guarantees as to the sustainability of said housing. That the self-regulating magic of the market has not particularly proved its worth on the housing market in the Basque Country… “I am not a philanthropist, he agrees, I am creating a heritage for my children. “If it exempts tax in passing, it refutes any speculative will. “I don’t buy resale or Airbnb-type rentals. »

I think it’s the ground floors that interest him to trade

” Profit “

The mayor, Jean-Marie Iputcha, does not intend to rely on the simple word of a private investor. “Anah’s aid is amortized after ten years, after the owner does what he wants. He can resell. ” Contacted by ” Sud Ouest “, Anah specifies this: ” The lessor who has benefited from our aid is required to practice a regulated rent for five years, after which he is no longer bound by this framework. It’s the same with selling. »

The first magistrate “finds it bizarre” this desire to “do social work” by “someone from outside the municipality”. “I think it’s the ground floors that interest him for trading. We, the community, are not aiming for profit. Our social housing will remain so. »

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

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