The Americans of Hines are the new masters of the Torre Velasca, a true brutalist-style icon of 1950s Milan.
The handover from Unipol to the overseas real estate company took place on 16 December 2022, after the signing of a record contract: the operation in fact cost around €220m, divided into around €150m for the purchase of the property in itself, and about 70 for the renovation of the building and the surrounding square, thanks to the inclusion of new green areas and a pedestrian commercial space without architectural barriers.
What will happen now? The real estate group has confirmed its idea of renovating and modernizing the Torre Velasca, according to a project (yet undisclosed) that will give it a second life, transforming it into a high-quality building for mixed-use offices. The surrounding square, Piazza Velasca, will also be overturned. In all, the renovation works should be completed in less than a year, with the new inauguration expected by the end of 2023.
The renovation works were commissioned to Asti Architetti; the idea is to restore the exterior but keep the iconic facade. The interiors will instead be extensively revised in a modern key, giving priority to dynamics such as interaction, cultural exchange and personal well-being.
According to Mario Abbadessa, head of Hines Italia, the Tower is “a historic building and a recognizable landmark to residents and visitors of Milan”, and the acquisition will offer the possibility to “breathe new life into now obsolete interiors, transforming them into a modern and current workspace”.
The history of the Torre Velasca
The Torre Velasca was designed in the first half of the 1950s by the BBPR studio (Banfi, Belgioioso, Peressutti and Rogers), after being commissioned by the Rice company. It was built near the Cathedral, in an area destroyed by the bombings of the Second World War, precisely Piazza Velasca, in the heart of the Missori district.
The building, which covers a total area of over 20 thousand square meters, was built in less than a year, 292 days to be exact, and was completed in 1957 with a height of 106 meters spread over 27 floors.
The owners of the building have taken turns one after the other: from Allianz to Fondiaria Sai, up to Unipol. Among those allegedly interested in the purchase are also the Orion fund, Atlantica Sgr and Mr. Suning, the owner of Inter.
From the outset, the shape and appearance of the Torre Velasca aroused controversy, and divisions between those who considered it a masterpiece and those who considered it one of the ugliest buildings in the world. Over the years the Milanese have begun to appreciate it, so much so that in 2011 the superintendency of Fine Arts subjected it to historical and landscape restrictions.
Today, the Torre Velasca is an icon of Milan, so much so that the prices of the offices inside it travel at record figures: just think that it is currently possible to find real estate advertisements for the sale of an office of 43 square meters for 520 thousand euros.
Who are the new owners of Torre Velasca
American Hines is one of the largest real estate companies in the world. It has offices in 214 cities in 24 countries around the globe, and has assets in real estate and assets estimated at around $26 billion.
Hines European Value Fund, or HEVF 1, is the name of the fund set up by Prelios Sgr to carry out the acquisitions of Hines. In all, the fund raised over €700 million in commitments between July 2017 and August 2018, thus finalizing an investment portfolio in various European countries including Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Italy.
Hines has already been a protagonist in the real estate market in Milan, as in past years it has been at the center of the development of Porta Nuova with the construction of the Unicredit skyscraper, which is now owned by a Qatari fund.