More than 20,000 made the journey to the Côte d’Azur this year to take part in the 25th instalment of Le Marché International des Professionnels de L’immobilier (Mipim). Some arrive by helicopter, others in the slick pelotons of organised bike rides, while latecomers file onto the Promenade de la Croisette from the nearby train station.
At the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, where the fair is based, stands are stacked high with polished renders and plastic models showing everything from grand visions of the future to mixed-use developments in up-and-coming suburbs. The site is a microcosm of the industry and although Brazil, Turkey and Russia have been honoured with good pitches on busy thoroughfares, it’s the London Pavilion that’s providing the excitement.
“It was positive last year but this time it’s even more so,” says Tamsie Thomson, the London director of the Royal Institute of British Architects, which represents 22 firms at this year’s show. The London stand is busy. Men in suits discuss skyrocketing house prices (that rose 13 per cent last year) and the merits of mixed-use developments in south London’s suburbs. Others enjoy the seaside view as the sun dips behind the yachts.
“The Muscovites have a great model but they don’t have anything like the buzz, the energy or the excitement of London,” says Peter Murray, the founder of think tank New London Architecture.
As London’s prospects soar, other cities with less imposing platforms are pitching hard to emulate its success. Swelled by new-found oil wealth off Brazil’s coast, Maricá (60km from Rio de Janiero) is touting its Ponta Negra terminal seaport to investors. Helsinki’s deputy mayor, Hannu Penttilä, hits the rostrum to drum up support to develop the city’s overlooked ports while Nice’s representative Christian Tordo praises the South of France as a recession-resilient investment.
Mipim’s central role is bringing these ideas together to ferment and the glamorous setting does much to grease the wheels of business. You get the feeling deals are signed over post-dinner drinks in swanky sea-facing hotels or on deck in one of the many boats moored outside.
There’s a sense here of an industry picking itself back up. Although attendance is on the up, the hangover from the largesse enjoyed before the financial crisis is palpable. “Investors are thinking much more long term because there is less liquidity,” says Filippo Rean, the festival’s director. “The industry is more conscious of the role it has in the economy’s development.”
As deals signed at Mipim aren’t immediately publicised we’ll have to wait and see if this newfound conscientiousness is a trend investors will be building on.
The number of countries represented this year rose 16 per cent and regional fair Mipim UK launches in London this October. The inaugural Japanese instalment starts next spring.
- French firm Semapa and Canadian developer Ivanhoe Cambridge will build central Paris’ first towers since the 1970s. Construction on the Tours Duo starts in 2016.
- Retail investment in Spain increased three-fold last year and Russian real-estate investment grew for a third consecutive year.
- Helsinki’s west harbour project is seeking investment. It’s slated to create 10,000 jobs and reintroduce more ferries to the city’s skyline.
- Tema Istanbul will construct a €288m theme park, Turkey’s largest private real-estate investment to date.