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The brand new empty town of Valdeluz in the middle of Spain

Petar Djajkovski

Valdeluz is a city constructed in the province of Yebez in the middle of the Iberian peninsula and Spain. Some consider it a suburb of the capital of Spain, as it is located 37 miles south of Madrid. It was planned to house 30 thousand people but by the end, only around 1,000 took residence there. In 2008 the construction halted with around 75% of the city finished. The main reason to stop further development was the economic downturn that hit the world and the European Union, striking hard at countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy.

For sale, for rent, anything – Author: José María Mateos – CC by 2.0

For sale, for rent, anything – Author: José María Mateos – CC by 2.0

Empty buildings, empty streets – Author: José María Mateos – CC by 2.0

Empty buildings, empty streets – Author: José María Mateos – CC by 2.0

The plan to construct the north east corridor of the Spanish high-speed railway that would connect central Spain via Madrid and Barcelona with the French border started to be devised with the Rail Transport Plan of Spain in 1987. The plans were to finish it by the year 2000. Besides the railways, the plan included construction of several new intermediate stations between big cities. The city that would house a railway station between Madrid and Saragossa would be Guadalajara, it was decided. Since there was not a city or a town with suitable land south of Madrid that would serve as a station, the idea to built one came naturally. The site chosen immediately raised some controversy as the owners of the land were relatives (cousin and aunt) of the Spanish Education Minister at the time. The high price paid by the government for the land caused suspicion and speculations of corruption.

Depressing Lake. To get to this pond, you have to cross a dirt road. – Author: José María Mateos – CC by 2.0

Depressing Lake. To get to this pond, you have to cross a dirt road. – Author: José María Mateos – CC by 2.0

 

At the entrance of the city – Author: José María Mateos – CC by 2.0

At the entrance of the city – Author: José María Mateos – CC by 2.0

High prices of housing and land in Madrid compared to the promised new cheap flats less than an hour drive or 20 minutes on a train drew many contractors and real estate developers to invest in the new city to be. By 2001 the municipality of Yebes and Guadalajara reclassified 1,200 acres of land for the future railway station. By 2002 they were approved by the government commission and works on construction started with a budget of 1,100 million euros. In 2004 construction of the first residential developments started and two years later, with some of the housing finished, the city was officially inaugurated. The final number was supposed to be 9,400 residential buildings and an 18-hole golf course which was finished and opened in 2007.

City of Valdeluz – Author: José María Mateos – CC by 2.0

City of Valdeluz – Author: José María Mateos – CC by 2.0

 

For sale – Author: José María Mateos – CC by 2.0

For sale – Author: José María Mateos – CC by 2.0

Before the construction halted, Valdeluz contractors had successfully managed to finish the school, but that was closed in 2011-2012 and officially closed for good in October 2014. A health care center has operated from temporary offices since 2008. Consulting can be done every day, but for specialist treatment, it’s open only two days in the week. There are plans for a new health center with double the capacity, emergency rooms and minor surgery operation rooms, to be constructed soon. Apart from the 18-hole golf course named simply Golf Valdeluz, Valdeluz currently has a sports center called Municipal Sports Center Valdeluz. It is a big arena with an area of 13,125 square feet and seats for more than 400 spectators. Outside there are two tennis courts, and a multi sport court.

Empty streets with construction equipment rusting slowly – Author: José María Mateos – CC by 2.0

Empty streets with construction equipment rusting slowly – Author: José María Mateos – CC by 2.0

 

Entrance to the station – Author: José María Mateos – CC by 2.0

Entrance to the station – Author: José María Mateos – CC by 2.0

This city had the luck to have its plan made in a time that was great for urban developers and investors, also for potential buyers. Interest rates in Spain were very low in the 1990s as Spain was expected to enter the Euro zone, and on 1st of January 1999, the euro was introduced as official currency. With this, interest in real estate fell sharply as many Spaniards were trying to get rid of their untaxed black money. This resulted as a haven for real estate developers and the industry boomed. However, the luck of the city changed drastically when it was under construction. The real estate bubble burst in 2007/2008 and construction and development of housing ended abruptly. Interest rose through the roof with the failure of the Lehman Brothers bank, which marked the start of the global economic crisis. However, if someone is looking for a cheap place to live in Spain, contractors nowadays sell the apartments just to cover their costs, or even for less than that.