Moving to cut through the red tape that’s held up the development of Hard Rock Entertainment World, the government of Catalonia has announced it will act as an intermediary in the purchase of the land for the project.
The regional government of Catalonia has confirmed it will act as an intermediary in the purchase of a plot of land in Tarragona province earmarked for the Hard Rock Entertainment World development.
The Generalitat de Catalunya will purchase the land – situated adjacent to the PortAventura World entertainment resort on the Costa Daurada – via Incasòl, Catalonia’s government-owned land development institute, in a EUR120m deal.
The hundred hectare parcel is currently owned by Mediterranea Beach and Golf Community, which is in turn owned by Criteria Caixa, a development arm of La Caixa, Spain’s third largest financial institution.
Incasòl will then sell the land to Hard Rock International for the same price, hopefully clearing to way for the long-delayed project to finally move forward.
The Executive Council of Catalonia approved the purchase on 3 March, and established a time-limit of 5 May to complete the deal. “If the agreement still hasn’t been signed by 5 May, then the development won’t go ahead,” said Meritxell Budó, spokesperson for the government.
In December, local media reported that the former owners of the land had filed a legal challenge arguing that the compensation they received when the area was expropriated 30 years ago to build PortAventura was calculated based on an incorrect land category.
In light of this, the three parties – Hard Rock, the Generalitat and Criteria – are said to be planning to take out an insurance policy covering them from any legal risk associated them with this litigation.
Previously known as BCN World, the development had gone through various permutations over the years, before Hard Rock’s EUR2bn proposal was given the green light by Catalonia’s Ministry of Economy and Finance in May 2018.
Developed in partnership with PortAventura World, the EUR665m first phase of Hard Rock Entertainment World, dubbed Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tarragona, will include a thousand room hotel, a casino, and leisure and entertainment facilities. Alongside this, Hard Rock will also build a shopping precinct in partnership with Value Retail. The property’s casino will be among the largest in Europe and will include 1,200 slots and 100 gaming tables.
Hard Rock’s gaming licence for the project required the firm to meet certain deadlines, however the issues surrounding the land purchase led to the government granting the company two extensions. The last of these licence extensions was in December and was due to expire this March, making the acquisition of the land a key priority to enable the development to move forward.
Damià Calvet, minister of Territory and Sustainability, characterised Hard Rock Entertainment World as “a strategic project that will make the region a world leader in the tourism and conventions space”. He added that in parallel to the land purchase, the government would work on drafting new urban development plans to be implemented alongside the development.
The mayors of the municipalities of Vila-seca and Salou, both located close to where the integrated resort project will be situated, have welcomed the latest announcement.
“The agreement reached by the Generalitat represents one more step on the long road that’s gradually taking us towards the goal of [realising] Hard Rock’s project,” said Pere Segura, mayor of Vila-seca.
Salou’s mayor, Pere Granados, suggested the development will help protect the local economy against seasonality and will create “many much needed jobs”.
“Here in Salou town hall we’re working hard to ensure there is economic sustainability for local families, and that they can work all year and not just seasonally. Hard Rock will create signifiant wealth for Salou and [will strengthen] the economy,” he affirmed. “It will also open up new tourist markets, while positioning us as a benchmark European destination throughout the world.”
LUCKIA AND CIRSA OPEN NEW CASINO IN VIGO
Elsewhere in Spain, Galicia’s newest gaming venue opened its doors at the end of February. Located in the A Laxe shopping centre, Casino de Vigo is a joint venue between Spanish casino operators Luckia Group and Cirsa. Representing an investment of around EUR5m, the property includes 85 gaming machines, along with gaming tables and a dozen poker tables.
Alongside this, the 1,800 sqm casino also includes a VIP room, a cocktail bar and restaurant. With capacity for 500 people, Casino de Vigo opened with 71 employees, however the property eventually aims to expand this figure to over 100. The casino offers 24-hour parking, while its opening hours will be from 10am to 4am, extending through to 5am on Fridays and Saturdays.
The venue, which its operators characterise as “multi-function”, plans to stage a range of events, including concerts and broadcasting live sports, while the casino has already hosted a Spanish National Poker League tournament between 4 to 8 March.