Another Alentejo seaside tourist development up for sale

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HousingEstatePlanNovo Banco, which already has taken possession of Herdade do Pinheirinho Beach and Golf Resort, aims to sell off the stalled real estate and tourism enterprise located on the Alentejo coast in Melides, Grândola.

Granted a Potential National Interest classification, the project’s promoter is insolvent and the assets ended up with Novo Banco which was owed €140 million of the estate’s €204 million debt pile.

Announced in 2007 by the then Economy Minister, Manuel Pinho, the project was being promoted by a company called 'Pelicano' but environmentalists were on the case as the land is in a protected coastal area and the project looked like it was going to disturb the sand dunes.

Quercus and Geota stated that year that they would proceed with a court action to suspend the project and avoid the destruction of ‘priority habitats.’

The environmentalists statement from 2007, reads, ‘The construction of Herdade do Pinheirinho takes place in the protected Natura 2000 area of Comporta / Galé,’ noting also that another development is being built in the same area.

The associations’ injunction was successful, for a short while, "The works came to a halt, but after a little more than a week, they resumed work. The Government invoked ‘public utility status’ and the injunction was over."

Environmentalists say they are not "against the projects", but oppose the chosen location, because it is an area "with priority habitats and species".

An investment of around €167 million was planned for the 210 hectare Herdade do Pinheirinho project which was to include two hotels (150 and 180 rooms), three tourist villages (400-500 rooms), four aparthotels with 260 apartments and townhouses, 204 villas and a 90 hectare golf course with 27 holes.

The flying pig element was a promise of 2,000 direct and indirect jobs.

According to press reports at the time, the objective of the real estate developer was that the first phase of the project would be completed in 2009 and the target audience was British and Irish buyers, but there also was a vague desire to attract other, more exotic, investors.

“The unique character of the location of Herdade do Pinheirinho, with a beach front of three kilometers, and the quality that characterises the project, may also attract non-traditional markets such as Russia, the United States and the Middle East,” according to Pelicano’s pre-crash statement in 2007.

The Hyatt hotel group got involved in September 2008. The name changed to the Hyatt Golf & Beach Resort and the promised investment increased to €250 million but the only thing that got built was the golf course.

In 2017, Novo Banco ended up with Herdade do Pinheirinho, “In a timely manner, we want to sell this asset," said the bank’s communications office when asked by Negócios.

The national newspaper reports that the two real estate development companies involved in Herdade do Pinheirinho have been included in Novo Banco’s accounts since 2017.

'Herdade do Pinheirinho Resort, SA' and 'Herdade do Pinheirinho II - Investimento Imobiliário, SA.', created in 2007 and 2008 respectively, represent another headache for the American owned bank unless it can clear at least the €140 million owed: is 200 hectares and a golf course worth the money?

These two companies used to belong to Pelicano, which in 2015 presented a PER revitalisation plan, which was approved by the creditors in November 2016.

There were 447 creditors claiming €204 million. Of this sum, 69% was owed to Novo Banco which ended up controlling the business.

In October 2016, the Chinese owners of Club Med said they were intending to invest ‘about €100 million’ in a new venture in the Grândola area and were looking at the 'Costa Terra' project, until recently owned by Pedro Queirós Pereira until his death this August; the 'Herdade do Pinheirinho' project now controlled by Novo Banco, the deeply troubled 'Herdade da Comporta' which has been on the market since 2014 and Comporta Dunes, which was released in 2013.

These large projects, laden with debt, concentrate on old style tourism when the swing is to Alojamento Local provision and anything with 'eco' tagged on to the name - such as the Praia Grande Resort in the Algarve, Between Galé and Armação de Pêra, that mysteriously became an 'eco-resort' when ownership changed to Millennium BCP.

This bank stated this week that, "Millennium BCP continues to seek qualified investors for the property mentioned. In the meantime, in compliance with the property licence, we are carrying out preliminary and maintenance work at the site. We have no further comment at this time."

Millennium BCP must have taken over this “oversized, illegal and destructive” project from the bust property company Finalgarve, (part of the bust company Galillei, which was part of the bust company Sociedade Lusa de Negócios which was part of Banco Português de Negócios - which went bust) and now faces an environmental opposition which already has an astonishing 34,137 signatories and a court challenge that has seen the development suspended pending a proper, not fiddled this time, Environmental Impact Assessment.

For articles about the Salgados 'Praia Grande' development, see:

Proposed 'Herdade do Pinheirinho Beach and Golf Resort'


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