Hines acquires the Torre Velasca in Milan

Hines, the international real estate firm, successfully signed contracts to acquire the iconic 27-story mixed-use Torre Velasca tower in the centre of Milan on behalf of the Hines European Value Fund (HEVF 1).

Located on the Piazza Velasca in the heart of the city’s historic central business district, close to the Duomo di Milano cathedral, Torre Velasca comprises over 20,000 square meters of office, multifamily and retail space. The asset has been acquired from Italian insurance company, Unipol, for an undisclosed price, though a newly incorporated Real Estate Investment Fund that will be managed by Prelios SGR, a leading Italian real estate fund and asset manager.

Hines will embark on a comprehensive refurbishment and modernisation program to transform the tower into a high-quality office-led, mixed-use scheme, while leveraging the global firm’s wider placemaking experience to enhance and fully reposition the surrounding piazza.

The acquisition represents the ninth secured by Hines for HEVF 1, the flagship core plus/value-add fund for which Hines raised €721 million of equity commitments in closings from July 2017 to August 2018, exceeding the original fund target size by over 40%.

We conducted a comprehensive compliance evaluation of the asset with checks on ownership, urban planning, cadastral records facilities, fire prevention and the environment.

An interview with: Emanuele Bellani, Chief Operating Officer of YARD-REAAS Group

What challenges did you face when devising the technical profile?

We are particularly proud of having been the technical advisers for Hines, tasked with overseeing a transaction in which this American real estate giant acquired one of Milan’s most iconic buildings, the Velasca Tower: over 20,000 square metres of offices, residences and shops that will undergo redevelopment with a view to reinvigorating the configuration and interiors of the Tower, transforming it into a modern and contemporary workspace.

Carrying out the preparatory activities for each phase of the real estate investment, ranging from advisory to technical and environmental due diligence, to the technical management of properties, our company was commissioned to conduct pre-acquisition due diligence. We conducted a comprehensive compliance evaluation of the asset with checks on ownership, urban planning, cadastral records facilities, fire prevention and the environment.

How did you work through these issues?

A different approach was needed for the Velasca Tower; the standard checks also included a timely parallel historical investigation covering a period ranging from the very inception of the building to the most recent transformation interventions.

More than any other sector, real estate requires a simultaneous application of transversal and vertical skills.

In light of the building’s mandatory preservation safeguard, we had to expand our scope of analysis for not only bureaucratic aspects linked to the complex building procedure of the asset but also aspects related to the technical component and choice of materials used.

 How do you navigate yourself and your team during a deal when there are many other legal teams involved?

More than any other sector, real estate requires a simultaneous application of transversal and vertical skills.

Forging a perfect synergy between professionals, like us, who are called to operate from a technical point of view and professionals who deal with real estate/M&A law is essential when creating a consultancy with high added value and to ensure that transactions such as these achieve success.

Equally valuable is the collaboration with architects and structural engineers, in particular with Paolo Asti of the Asti Architetti architectural firm.

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