Sold By the Pound – Part One. G25A takes on sale of public properties in new series.

Sold By the Pound – Part One

The expression isn’t ours, but rather that of a majority councilor who, during a memorable meeting last November 30 said exactly this, to justify the sale of Palazzo Poerio Papadopoli at a discount to a Chinese investor who lives in Singapore, and who had already been awarded the bid on Palazzo Donà: the palazzi are being sold off by the pound, his words.

We take him at his word and here publish a previously unreleased list which can give an idea of the size of this phenomenon and of the resulting “turnover”. For every property we indicate the sale price, starting with the next building that appears in the “divestment plan” for 2019: Palazzo Corner Contarini, current seat of the Appeals Court, listed for 13,760,000 Euro.

alienazioni-corner-contariniWhich other palazzi that were meant for public functions have changed or are changing purpose in Venice? Going back in time (given that this phenomenon did not start with this Administration), our research yields the following results:

The Ex Ospedale al Mare, and this news comes to us just this week, will become a Club Med  (a multinational now controlled by Chinese investors) “resort”:

A Chinese investor (who lives in Singapore, where he has made a fortune) is also the lucky buyer of two palazzi that were city property:

  1. Palazzo Donà in campo Santa Maria Formosa, former offices of social services, sold for 4 million Euro and now becoming a hotel;
  2. Palazzo Poerio Papadopoli, a former elementary school and current headquarters of the City Police Command, saw its keys handed over, with an urban planning variation included, not even at the price listed in the Divestment Plan (14 million Euro) but with a nice discount which brought the price down to 10,729,606 Euro thanks to a budget variation approved by a particularly tense City Council (who knows why) where shouts and insults flew, on 30 November 2017. Paradoxically, the shouts and insults came from Council members of the majority, to silence a few questions too many, and it was on this occasion that the famous phrase that we chose for the title of this inquiry was first spoken.

palazzo-poerio-dora-meoIn the preceding photo, Palazzo Poerio Papadopoli, dating from the 1500s, and about which we have already written back in November:

As far as for what is in store for these two palazzi, the “rendering” that we found on the Internet is eloquent enough:



The list doesn’t end here because it is not only the City selling off property: local entities, public entities, the CDP and Demanio seem to be engaged in a race to “raise cash”, depriving us of our family jewels, which in moments of real crisis will no longer be available to us: once they are sold off they are sold forever. Taking part in the rush for example:

  • The Region, which has repeatedly announced its intention to sell its offices at Palazzo Balbi (!), after having sold the almost identically named palazzo at San Marco, not to mention Palazzo Manfrin and Palazzo Gussoni, current headquarters of the TAR del Veneto.
  • The Chamber of Commerce, which sold its offices at Calle larga XXII marzo for 62 million Euro.
  • The Ministry of Defense is “liberating” an entire island (le Vignole) along with its annex for the barracks of our Lagunari (will they still be such, once they have moved to the mainland?).
  • The Metropolitan City (run by the Mayor of Venice): sold the office of the Provveditorato agli Studi for 12.5 million Euro: Palazzo Donà Balbi on the Canal Grande, with its breathtaking view that can be enjoyed from its windows, and which won’t fail to attract the usual “change of purpose; yes, because the much trumpeted ban on “change of purposes”, among the thousands of exceptions that become rules, provides one permanent exception and this regards public heritage (therefore ours) already sold or in the process of being sold. The famous resolution, full of holes, furthermore preserves all the practices that were introduced before its publication, with tangible results that we see in various places around the city. Here, for example, we are at our former Land Registry, also sold off to be transformed into a hotel.


Why discuss this and discuss it again now, if some of these transformations have already been approved? Because with the relocation of the Judicial offices to Piazzale Roma, which currently has its offices “in the business district” of Rialto, we want to avoid finding ourselves confronted with yet another “surprise” as well in the large area dominated by the Rialto market, which for its part is in trouble because of the continued loss of residents.

If this subject interests you, keep an eye on the series of articles which we are inaugurating today: “Sold By the Pound”. At times it won’t concern sales, but rather concession of use agreements lasting 99 years, and regarding entire islands… but we will discuss this in the next installment.

Source: 29 June 2018

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