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De gevel van het luxehotel Botanic Sanctuary Antwerp op de Elzenveldsite.

The City of Antwerp is covering a €42 million loan to a wealthy building developer

Wealthy building developer

Botanic Estate nv is the vehicle for the 79-year-old real estate promoter Eric the moistureHis wealth is estimated at more than 270 million euros, according to the specialized website Richest Belgiums.

In October 2017, De Vochts became a corporation Eret From the Antwerp City Council for a 66-year lease for the Elzenveld site on Lange Gasthuisstraat in Antwerp. In exchange for a one-time payment of €3 million and an annual rent of €221,000, IRET was allowed to exploit the historic site in the city centre.

What happens if Botanic Estate cannot repay its €42 million loan?

On 30 June 2023, the Botanic Estate's General Assembly approved the annual accounts for 2022. The year ended with a loss of €742,005 and a debt mountain of $136 million. The cumulative loss amounted to €2,241,816.

What happens if Botanic Estate cannot repay its €42 million loan? Can the Arab Bank from Wiesbaden then knock on the door of the city of Antwerp?

Joris Gibbins fears so. “Because the mortgage has now been placed on the lease. If you read the four-party agreement carefully, it seems as if the bank can do everything in its power to recover the money from the credit. And then they will get the lease agreement anyway.”

“Several clauses in the agreement indicate that Aareal Bank may then look for a new tenant in order to restore this credit. This entire four-way agreement has been tailored specifically to Botanic Estate. During my eleven-year career on the Municipal Council, I have never That I encountered anything like that in exchange for it.”

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Accumulation of building violations

On Tuesday 19 March 2024, Gibbins clashed for the first time over the four-way agreement with Annick de Ridder, as the spatial planning and heritage consultant responsible for the Elsenfeld site. In the municipal Port, Urban Development, Spatial Planning and Heritage Committee, it was denied that the city was a guarantor of a loan worth 42 million euros.

“This is a case between a hotel operator and a developer who have created a jewel together,” she said. According to De Ridder, the five-star Botanic Sanctuary Hotel was built without money from the bank. “Now they apply for financing after the fact, and we as a city step in to create a mortgage. This way, we, as natural tenants and owners, can exercise our rights if things go wrong.”

Alderman Annick de Ridder (N-VA): “This is a case between a hotel operator and a developer who have created a gem together”

Johan Bite of beer From the working committee Stop selling Antwerp He finds Alderman De Ridder's response in the committee “astonishing.” He described the city of Antwerp's signing of the quadripartite agreement as a “disaster.”

It is suspected that “construction promoter Eric de Vocht may have sensed an opportunity to negotiate a rather favorable €42 million loan for his luxury hotel with a German bank.” “But since De Vocht has the land and building on a long lease, he has no choice but to ask the city to make this deal possible.”

Bigteber finds agreeing to the four-way agreement shameful. “Precisely because the construction promoter in this file piled up building violations one after another. For example, an illegal canopy was built that undermines the life chances of a historically valuable Japanese ginkgo tree. This canopy should have been demolished long ago, but it is.” I'm still here.”

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“If you are dealing with a hardened building violator like this, you as a tenant must take strict action against this. If the tenant comes to you because he wants you to get a loan of 42 million euros, this is the perfect moment to first ask him to retract his numerous building violations? But the city will now sign the four-way agreement sincerely and without any objections.”