Amsterdam: Finally clarity about ADM terrain

ADM_AmsterdamChidda admits, Koole Maritime is not intending building a shipyard.

The ADM terrain in the port of Amsterdam has been disused since 1977. From that time, the land was ‘owned’ by various speculators, who however still had to deal with a limitation that the municipality had included in the Act of Ownership, when they gifted the then ADM shipyard in 1970; “the terrain is destined for a company, which aims to build and repair ships.” The Supreme Court ruled earlier that this destination restriction (the ‘perpetual clause’) is still in place. The current ‘owner’, Chidda Vastgoed BV, argued for some time that they had found a company that would indeed plan to launch a genuine shipyard on the terrain. In the appeal court-case of the ‘Bodemprocedure’ (=> in-depth court case), which took place Tuesday (March 28th. 2017), Chidda was forced to admit that it is not about a shipyard, but “a displacement of the current activities.” The company in question, Koole Maritime BV, is known for, among others, asbestos removal, waste treatment and excavation works.

That real estate company Chidda BV insisted this long that it indeed was about a shipyard, has to do with the fact that they’re attempting already for about two years to remove the more than 200 residents, who settled in the area in the past 40 years, through various procedures. However, in order to accomplish this, the real estate company must have a “demonstrable and law respecting interest in the matter”, according to the judges in the three previous court cases. For the ADM terrain it means that there must be serious plans presented for a shipyard. These plans were proven again and again below par. Last Tuesday it became finally clear why.

Chidda BV, a company of the late real estate tycoon Bertus Lüske, bought the 43 Ha. terrain in 1997 for around 12 million euros, with the cooperation of the then director of the Amsterdam Port Authority. If they had succeeded through the courts or by other means, to get rid of the destination restriction or stretching it at least significantly, the terrain would be worth, with the current prices in the harbor, close to 100 million euros. As long as the restriction is in place however, it is highly questionable whether the terrain ever can be exploited profitable, the investments that are involved in starting a new shipyard are enormous, while the market for shipyards of a certain size is shrinking already for decades. Recently, Damen Shipyards (also owner of the former Shipdock yard and Oranjewerf in Amsterdam) was forced to lay off hundreds of workers.

Now that it has become clear that there are no plans for a shipyard, and other uses of the terrain are impossible, it seems that there’s only option left for Chidda BV: to sell the terrain to the municipality. The municipality, which has first right of buying (back), already offered 30 million euros in the past, but Chidda BV called this then “unrealistic”.

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