Real estate in Colombia
Long recognised as the most experienced firm in urban regulation and real estate law, Pinilla González & Prieto Abogados continues to garner excellent feedback: the 18-strong team ‘stands out for its specialisation, capacity of analysis, and support in the definition of the issues'. Juan Manuel González, who has over 20 years’ sector experience; Angela Caicedo, who leads the urban law practice; Martha Rico, head of real estate law; and recently promoted partner Sandra Lizcano, who specialises in urban planning; all co-head the overall practice. Also a key figure, Felipe Pinilla leads on transactional real estate mandates. The firm continues to advise Constructora Conconcreto on an administrative procedure regarding risk mitigation related to the uptake of the COP285m Partial Plan Malachi for the development of around 60 hectares of land located in the municipality of Soacha, Cundinamarca. It is also assisting Fernando Mazuera & Cía regarding the adoption of the partial plans (a type of planning instrument) for the Mazda Mavaia and Mudela del Río developments, located in the north of Bogotá, for residential and commercial uses. Other 2018 mandates included advising Inversiones Inmobiliarias Santa Cruz on the development of an urban expansion project in the municipality of Ibagué, again accompanying the developer client in the administrative procedure to adopt two partial plans. Associate Cristina Rodriguez is noted. Entorno Urbano, Amarilo, Constructora Colpatria, Inverandino and Prodesa are all longstanding clients.
Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA) has one of ‘the few real estate and urban law teams in Colombia with all the necessary capabilities’ – including the acquisition and sale of properties, due diligence, real estate project structuring, fund formation and sector-related litigation. The practice also handles specialised land use matters. A ‘great lawyer’ with ‘market-attuned vision’, Paula Samper leads an eight-strong team that has noticeably rounded out its offering as a result of developing its capabilities in the urban development segment. Felipe Mariño led the temporary management of Ciudad Lagos de Torca (in Bogotá), a 1,800-hectare macro urban-development project. Samper led the advice to Titularizadora Colombiana regarding the acquisition of several real estate assets from Banco Davivienda; the mandate involved the drafting of the title-search report, including the review of chain-of-ownership up to 20 years back, the review of applicable urbanisation law for each asset and recommendations for the closure of each securitisation process. Senior associates Camilo Cantor and the ‘recommended’ María Camila Parra are also key members of the practice. Clients include Amarilo, Constructora Bolívar, PriceSmart, Corredores Davivienda and Jaramillo Mora.
‘Highly commited to its clients’ goals’, Posse Herrera Ruiz’ real estate practice exhibits ‘strong expertise’ in handling matters from across the full spectrum of the sector, including developments, regeneration initiatives and infrastructure projects; advice on agribusiness and rural real estate; contentious matters; and in particular in acquisitions, investment transactions and corporate structuring. ‘Highly regarded’ figures Andrés Montoya and José Alejandro Torres co-head the ten-strong practice group, with senior associate Alejandro Turbay leading a three-strong team dedicated to urbanisation and zoning regulations that has ‘come of age’ over the last two years. The practice advised BTG Pactual Real Estate Fund in simultaneous negotiations to purchase a land plot, undertake build-to-suit construction, and establish a long-term lease on behalf of Koba, which it has also been assisting with lease matters concerning several of the company’s stores across the country. It also advised four major construction companies – Constructora Bolívar, Cusezar, Constructora Marval and Prodesa – on the acquisition of a land plot in Bogotá for a 12,000-home residential project to be developed over the course of the next 30 years. Other 2018 mandates included assisting mining company Canteras Bella Escocia on the origination of a partial plan for an urban project in land that used to be a quarry. Associate Sergio Salazar is also noted. Other clients include Banco Davivienda, Selina, Terranum Corporativo, Phoenix Towers and Grupo Contempo.
Specialist boutique Ramirez & Cardona Abogados has been active in the market since 2010 and ‘offers a very insightful and hands-on approach to real estate matters’. The eight-strong practice handles urban and agrarian development matters and hospitality sector mandates, in particular, as well as tax matters related to real estate. Founding partner José Ramón Ramírez, ‘one of the best real estate lawyers’, is noted in particular for his capabilities in urban planning. Recent work saw the team assist Cemex with the development of a cement plant in the municipality of Maceo, Antioquia, a mandate involving the improvement of 40km of road and the construction of two alternative highways that will connect the town of Maceo with the cement plant. The firm also assisted San Francisco Investments with the legal and real estate structuring of separate hotel luxury housing projects; the work included matters relating to bidding for providers and contractors, the engagement of third-party contractors and subcontractors, and insurance matters, among other issues. Clients include Alianza Fiduciaria, American Pipe and Construction International, Summa Propiedades and TC Latin America Partners.
The strength of Baker McKenzie S.A.S.’ practice group lies primarily on the transactional side of real estate matters, with the team frequently working in combination with the tax and corporate/M&A departments. However, under the leadership of Alejandro Mesa, the department has steadily grown its capabilities, particularly in the urban law segment. Recent matters have seen the team assist Uber with the structuring, drafting, negotiation and closure of the lease and construction agreements for the company’s new offices in Bogotá. It also assisted Accuro with the drafting and negotiation of the agreements for the management and operation of the company’s clients’ real estate properties. Experienced associate Camila Jiménez, who has expertise in environmental law as applied to urban and rural projects, is also a key team member. Other clients include Biogen, Louis Vuitton, Fitness24Seven and Decameron Hotels.
The team at Brigard Urrutia has broad experience across the sector, handling matters ranging from performing due diligence and the structuring of real estate acquisitions to urban planning regulations, and across segments from hospitality to agribusiness. Álvaro Cala – who also co-leads the firm’s corporate and M&A practice – heads the department, with senior associate Natalia Hernández acting as real estate practice co-ordinator. The team continues to advise Patrimonio Autónomo Estrategias Inmobiliarias on all its real estate acquisitions, including the structuring, drafting, review and negotiation of all required agreements and urban-regulatory analysis of each property. The group also advised Citibank on the process of selling its consumer and small businesses operations to Banco Colpatria, which included the sale of 19 real estate properties; additionally, the team drafted the lease and bailment agreements over other properties held by the client. Other clients include Hyatt Hotels and Blackboard International.
Recommended for its ‘good negotiation skills’, Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría’s six-strong practice has been involved in significant transactions in the Colombian market of late; led by Juan Carlos Rocha, the team’s wider service offering covers all legal aspects related to the structuring and development of real estate projects. Principal associate Juan Miguel Luna, who has niche specialisation in heritage-protected properties as part of his wider practice, is also a key team member. In addition to benefiting from the office’s general strength in corporate matters, the practice also includes an urban law sub-group. Recent mandates saw Rocha lead the advice to Bancolombia on the approximately $45m capitalisation of real estate trust Viva Malls. The team also advised H&M on its retail store expansion plan in Colombia, and Colvalor both on the acquisition of properties to develop real estate projects and on real estate matters regarding the commercialisation and operation of the company’s portfolio of real estate projects. Other mandates included advising Anglo Gold Ashanti and Drummond regarding rural real estate properties. The February 2019 departure of former principal associate Silvia Avendaño, who specialised in project structuring and project development contracts, is a loss, however. Clients include Parque Arauco, Ripley International, SBA Torres Colombia, Fondo Inmobiliario Colombia and WeWork.
Specialist real estate firm UH Abogados climbs in the rankings on the back of excellent feedback that notes the team’s ‘knowledge, experience and tailored advice’. The practice focus on the negotiation of all types of real estate agreement, as well as the legal structuring of development projects, including the urbanisation aspects. Founders Carolina Uribe and Carlos Henao, both of whom are ‘good attorneys and strong practitioners’, head a four-strong team whose recent mandates include instruction by Fondo Inmobiliario Colombia, and construction companies Colpatria and Ménsula, for the legal structuring and development of the Distrito Vera multi-use real estate project located in Medellín, which will include housing, commercial facilities, services, hotels and student accommodation. Other 2018 highlights saw the team act for Londoño Gómez on the structuring and development of the Ciudad Fabricato project in the municipality of Bello, Antioquia. Clients also include Grupo Cartama, Red Polar, C.I Flores de la Vega and Almacenes Flamingo.
CMS Rodríguez-Azuero advises a mixed domestic and international client roster on, primarily, the structuring of complex private development projects. Co-led by managing partner Juan Camilo Rodríguez and Jacques Simhon, the team is recommended for tailoring its advice and ‘accompanying clients throughout all stages of the project’. The team continued to advise ACR Group on the drafting and negotiation of all retailer-lease contracts associated with its La Serrezuela luxury retail centre in Cartagena, as well as with the acquisition of additional land for the expansion of the project. The practice is also advising Círculo de Viajes Universal on its investment in several major real estate projects, including the acquisition of a 51% stake in a spa in Bogotá. Senior office partner Sergio Rodríguez-Azuero is also active in the practice. Other clients include Ciudad Lagos de Torca Landowners, Colegio Colombo Hebreo and Aldea Proyectos.
Contexto Legal Abogados
The team at Medellín-based Contexto Legal Abogados assists with real estate project development and also handles urban regulation and public procurement issues, as well as financing requirements. The practice is particularly credited for its knowledge of agribusiness-related real estate matters. Recent matters saw practice head Clara Uribe, who has over 25 years’ experience in the sector, lead advice to Immobiliare on the sale of its real estate portfolio, composed of offices in Medellín and Bogotá. Other mandates included assisting Promotora Médica las Americas with the negotiation of the construction agreements of a high-complexity hospital in Medellín. Other clients include Congregación de las Hermanas Franciscanas and Conjunto Inmobiliario Son Fernando Plaza.
The practice group at Garrigues’ Bogota office handles investment in real estate through transactions involving private equity funds and trusts. It also has considerable experience in land management and has been advising Odinsa on both the expansion of El Dorado airport and the construction of Cartagena’s new airport. José Miguel de la Calle heads the four-strong team, with senior associate Melissa Castro a key member. Other matters include assisting Old Mutual with the acquisition of several commercial properties in a major Colombian city and the associated assignment of lease agreements with retailers. Other mandates included assisting care company Cooserpark with the urban planning and construction permits required to develop an eco-friendly ash forest; the advice included representing the company in a real estate dispute filed by a local community, based on alleged misuse of the soil. Clients include Cafam, Andean Tower Partners, WeWork and Fiduciaria Bogotá.
Lloreda Camacho & Co.’s practice is noted for its experience advising on all sorts of legal business operations involving urban or rural real estate assets. Santiago Gutiérrez, who also leads the corporate and finance practice, and associate Carlos Carvajal, who focuses on real estate and government procurement, co-head the practice group. It recently advised Flores Ipanema on the structuring of the lease and sale of properties in order to expand its cultivation and fulfil applicable licence requirements. Other matters included assisting Implicito Carrillo with the structuring of a project consisting of the construction of co-ownership offices in Bogota; the mandate included the review of all titles and negotiation of all associated agreements – in particular, a guarantee trust agreement. Clients include Johnson & Johnson, Andean Tower Parters and Cine Colombia.