Vi­brant Malaga of­fers a brush with great­ness

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

Once just the gritty cap­i­tal of An­dalu­sia and the gate­way to the beach re­sorts of the Costa del Sol, the vi­brant port city of Malaga is now a des­ti­na­tion in its own right. Over­looked in favour of Barcelona or Palma, Ma­jorca, as rein­vented city-beach des­ti­na­tions, Malaga is fi­nally be­gin­ning to at­tract over­seas home hunters.

The forth­com­ing Na­tional Geo­graphic biopic se­ries about the life of Pablo Pi­casso show­cases the city’s beau­ti­ful Cen­tro His­torico, and might at­tract a few more. The artist in Ge­nius is played by An­to­nio Ban­deras, also born in Malaga. He has re­cently ren­o­vated a six­th­floor pent­house apart­ment and is now spend­ing longer pe­ri­ods in the city. Fea­tur­ing some strik­ing con­tem­po­rary art, his stun­ning rooftop ter­race of­fers views of the Moor­ish hill­top ci­tadel of Al­caz­aba, the Pi­casso mu­seum, and the tow­er­ing re­nais­sance cathe­dral.

While Pi­casso fans can see many of his works in Lon­don’s Tate Mod­ern this spring, why is Malaga on the radar of more than just art lovers? “Thirty years ago, Malaga was by­passed by peo­ple head­ing to Mar­bella but a new mayor [Fran­cisco de la Torre Pra­dos] has been trans­form­ing it,” says Alex Radford, a so­lic­i­tor who lives nearby ( my­lawyerin­spain.com). “The port area has now opened up, the parks and gar­dens [are] much im­proved. Added to its 30-odd mu­se­ums and art gal­leries have been the Museo Car­men Thyssen and the Pom­pi­dou, an off­shoot of the Paris mu­seum.”

One of his many in­ter­na­tional clients buy­ing a prop­erty in the Cen­tro His­torico area is Karen McNiven, an NHS man­ager from Glas­gow who pur­chased a two-bed­room flat near Plaza de la Con­sti­tu­ción. “Of­fered for sale at €200,000 (£179,000), I ended up get­ting it for €150,000, which was a bit of a bar­gain,” she says. “It’s in a 452-yearold build­ing and ev­ery room has floorto-ceil­ing win­dows with Juliet bal­conies. I just love it. I visit with my part­ner Ai­dan at least twice a month for long week­ends, and part of the ap­peal is that it still feels very Span­ish.”

She ad­mits she strug­gled to find a prop­erty as many are not listed on­line, but in­stead are passed down through fam­i­lies or sold to lo­cals by word of mouth. Malaga has al­ways been quite a closed, lo­cals’ mar­ket, agrees James Vizetelly of agent Affin­ity Hum­berts.

“Its old re­sale apart­ments have been of lit­tle in­ter­est to for­eign­ers but dur­ing the past 12 to 18 months de­vel­op­ers have be­gun to ar­rive and re­fur­bish old build­ings,” he says. “Stylish new-build apart­ments are still scarce so the prices can be higher than around Mar­bella.”

The av­er­age price per sq ft is €242 al­though in the his­tor­i­cal cen­tre it is closer to €418 to €465.

The agent is sell­ing twobed­room apart­ments off-plan in a new build­ing with a rooftop pool from €238,500 ( affin­i­ty­hum­berts.com). Al­ter­na­tively, in a for­mer ware­house re­con­fig­ured into de­sign-led homes by a Swedish de­vel­oper, there is a stylish one-bed­room apart­ment for sale at €240,000 (mala­gaes­tates. com).

Buy­ers tend to be French, Bel­gian and Bri­tish, and the Scan­di­na­vians also love the 3,000 hours of an­nual sun­shine which is the best in Spain, ac­cord­ing to Mikaela Jonas­son of agent Fastighets­byran. “Buy­ers es­pe­cially love be­ing in the old town, close to bars, the port, the beaches,” she says. “Pop­u­lar ar­eas nearby are Soho, the arty area, La Merced, San Felipe Neri, La Go­leta and El Molin­illo. Also, the ar­eas east of Malaga that are his­tor­i­cally the best neigh­bour­hoods – Malagueta, Li­monar, Cer­rado de Calderon and Pe­dregalejo. “You used to be able to get a pent­house in the cen­tre for €200,000, but prices have been in­creas­ing so up­com­ing, western ar­eas such as Huelin and Paci­fico are ones to watch. In­vestors are at­tracted by the fact prices are still lower than in Barcelona, Madrid and Palma de Ma­jorca.” For an apart­ment very close to the beach, the fish­er­men’s neigh­bour­hood of Pe­dregalejo of­fers a tran­quil en­vi­ron­ment, sug­gests Jeanette Chap­man of agent Malaga Es­tates. Apart­ments tend to be at least two be­d­rooms; she is sell­ing one for €380,000 with a large ter­race. “The small cir­cu­lar bays and lo­cal char­ac­ter make it pop­u­lar with fam­i­lies,” she says. A few feet from the beach are restau­rants sell­ing es­petos de sar­di­nas, sar­dines on a skewer grilled over wood fires. Malaga has be­come a mag­net for foodies, in­clud­ing the cook­ery writer and teacher Thane Prince, who bought a one-bed­room apart­ment in the Cen­tro area two years ago, through Malaga Es­tates. “I wanted a new place for week­end escapes and when I first vis­ited, I was en­chanted,” she says. “Every­one lives out­side on the streets where the build­ings are etched with his­tory; you can stand at the foot of the am­phithe­atre and look up at the Al­caz­aba tak­ing in a good 10 cen­turies of cul­ture in one glance.” It’s also easy to get to. “Prac­ti­cally ev­ery air­line flies to Malaga and we can be at our apart­ment in a 20-minute taxi ride from the air­port, and still catch some sup­per at the bar next door, even if it’s mid­night. At al­most any hour or day, you can find won­der­ful places to eat, from break­fast chur­ros to tapas and Miche­lin-starred restau­rants. Or beach chirin­gui­tos at Malagueta beach, per­fect for eat­ing freshly grilled fish with the sand be­tween your toes.”

A four-bed­room flat, €475,000 with Fastighets­byran, left; Karen McNiven, with part­ner Ai­dan, who bought in Malaga, above; a rare new-build in the cen­tre, main, from €238,500 with Hum­berts Affin­ity

A cen­tral one-bed­room apart­ment, above, is €240,000 with Malaga Es­tates; An­to­nio Ban­deras as Pi­casso in the new Na­tional Geo­graphic se­ries Ge­nius, be­low

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