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BD Bacatá: Crowdfunding a Skyscraper

The B1M | 4:09

BD Bacatá: Crowdfunding a Skyscraper

Tom Ravenscroft

7 June 2017

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THE USD $240M BD Bacatá in Bogota has recently become Colombia’s tallest building. But this skyscraper is unlike any other... because it was funded by thousands of ordinary Colombians.

Located in downtown Bogota at the border of the historic center and financial district, the tower is the first skyscraper to be built in the city for 30 years. Rising to 853 feet (260 metres), BD Bacatá ends the four-decade reign of the Torre Colpatria as Colombia’s tallest tower, and is now the second highest building in South America.

Above: BD Bacatá is the first skyscraper to be built in Bogota for 30 years (image courtesy of Alonso, Balaguer y Arquitectos Asociados).

The impressive tower was only made possible with an innovative funding method. Instead of being financed by a single wealthy individual, or a corporate investor, the skyscraper was funded by 5,000 Colombian citizens. Each of these investors will own a part of the completed skyscraper.

THE BIGGEST “PRODUCT” IN THE WORLD

The 1.2 million square foot (115,000 square metre) building consists of two towers, one rising to 67 storeys and the other to 56. They are connected by pedestrian bridges on the 14 and 25 floors respectively.

Capital was raised through a marketing campaign that touted the structure as “the biggest product in the world”. Of course, to generate sufficient interest, it was essential to have a product that would capture public attention; and BD Bacatá certainly fits that bill.

Above: BD Bacatá was promoted as the "biggest product in the world" (image courtesy of  Alonso, Balaguer y Arquitectos Asociados).

Designed by Spanish architect Alonso, Balaguer y Arquitectos Asociados, the modern skyscraper stands in sharp contrast to the majority of Bogotá’s low-rise structures. Rising like a steep staircase, BD Bacatá’s distinctive form appears as a pile of large glass-blocks stacked against its vertical concrete spine.

The towers house offices, a 364-room hotel and some 457 apartments, while its three storey horizontal base contains a shopping centre.

HOW TO CROWDFUND A SKYSCRAPER

Crowdfunding has become a popular way of raising capital for projects and business ventures in recent years. It involves large numbers of people making comparatively small financial contributions to the overall funds required for a scheme. Popularised by websites like Kickstarter, the crowdfunding model has successfully financed hundreds of thousands of small-scale projects, but nothing quite on the scale of BD Bacatá.

Above: The skyscraper was funded by 5,000 Colobian citizens (image courtesy of  Léo Tisseau).

Colombia’s unstable economy and the devaluation of its Peso had made investment in large scale schemes unattractive to traditional institutional equity, leading the tower’s developers – BD Promotores – to crowdfund their capital.

Colombian citizens paid their funds into an independent Trust (supervised by a Colombian government agency) that granted them rights to revenue from the skyscraper once it was completed. These funds were only released by the Trust to the developer as licenses and permissions to build were granted and as sufficient pre-sales were secured to demonstrate the scheme’s overall financial viability.

Above: Investors receive quarterly payments based on the revenue that the hotel, apartments and commercial spaces generate ( image courtesy of Léo Tisseau).

Now that the tower has become a reality, investors receive quarterly payments based on the revenue that the hotel, apartments and commercial spaces generate. Trends show that real estate crowdfunding has been growing exponentially in recent years, with BD Bacatá proving the model can work at scale.

While skyscrapers often stand as symbols of success for the wealthy, BD Bacatá represents a collaborative effort by ordinary citizens who are directly benefitting from its success; a powerful monument on the skyline of this nation’s capital city.

Images courtesy of BD Promotores, Alonso, Balaguer y Arquitectos Avocados, Juan Carlos Pachon, Léo Tisseau and Robert Douglas.

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