"É nossa missão criar um ecossistema exemplar onde a economia e a ecologia se unem de forma a preservar o território e a população"
João Abel de Freitas, EconomistaJoão Abel de Freitas, Economista

Herdade da Comporta, what would be the future?

A French prince has a project for Comporta that is “to give money”. But the underlying philosophy of looking at the world is different. It is based on Nature-Art-Education.

Opinion article by João Abel de Freitas, Economist *

Comporta landscapeIt is not that there is, as I read in a Portuguese press (Expresso and Visão), a French prince, Louis-Albert de Broglie – not be an “enchanted” prince, although it is located in Comporta, “where he plans to live permanently “- who is applying for the purchase of Herdade da Comporta to transform it into a worldwide focus of organic farming, education and art? This candidate for the purchase of Comporta says that it is proposed to build only 15% of the real estate that was expected to be realized in the project of the group Espirito Santo, which we will talk about.

1. The environmental prince

But other statements by Albert de Broglie are highly symbolic in their thinking: “Comporta cannot reproduce the mistakes made in the Algarve, France or Spain” (he did not have to go that far, he had only to look at neighboring Tróia). And if this project goes forward: “the whole world will want to come here to see how it is done a good project with social and environmental ambitions”. But, peremptorily, this project is business. It’s “to give money”. The underlying philosophy of looking at the world is different. It is based on Nature-Art-Education.

Louis-Albert de Broglie is an environmentalist linked to Deyrolle, a partner of Unesco and COP21 (reduction of the greenhouse effect). He’s projects are spreading around the world, where it has gained the development of ecological parks.

For example, it has won the public tender for the development of the 9th ecological district next to the Palace of Versailles, “with 150 shared gardens where 800 families will live” and in China, in Sichuan, next to the Panda Park, negotiated with the Chinese authorities the creation of a cultural and ecological park. The signing of this agreement was attended by President Emmanuel Macron and two French ministers, Foreign Affairs and Economy. Versailles and Sichuan are under way. Albert de Broglie only thinks now of Comporta, where he would like to make Alentejo and Portugal “defenders of order, an inspiration of what should be the territory of the 21st century.”

In short, “his idea would be to create seven centers: one of agro-ecology, inspired by permaculture (to give training in this way of working the land and managing the forest); a low tech and high tech innovation center that would boost local agricultural production; an alternative school (inspired by the Montessori philosophy and Bali green schools) that invested in autonomy and innovation; an art center (a museum of Natural Art and Contemporary Art), as a Noah’s ark; a middle-medicine and wellness center and a recycling and processing center; and finally a conference center where scientists, managers and civil society would regularly meet to discuss and disseminate issues such as oceans or food health. ”

“Comporta Utopia”. It is the designation that the French Prince gives to the project, but questioned by the Vision soon states: “We are not utopian. We are realistic, pragmatic. ” Utopia, he says, quoting Victor Hugo, “is the future of tomorrow.”

2. So far, two more potential buyers

That have nothing to do with the project and philosophy of the French prince as a way to conceive and explore the territory in the 21st century.

Vanguard Properties, a Portuguese company of French billionaire Claude Berda, in partnership with entrepreneur Paula Amorim, representative of a large Portuguese group, is one of the candidates for the purchase.

As Vanguard Properties says through its Portuguese spokesperson, the partnership brings together all the financial conditions to move forward immediately and stated that the first step is to complete the infrastructures started and the golf course. Then move on with the remaining ventures.

What distinguishes this project is the idea of ​​impressing the brand of the luxury restaurant that Paula Amorim has in Lisbon. However, despite this nuance, it goes beyond a classic tourist-real estate project, following the tourist component initially defined by the Espírito Santo group.

Oakvest Holdings, a Luxembourg-based company of controversial British businessman Mark Holyoake with a history of conflicts in the British courts, associated with the Portuguese family Carvalho Martins who controls the Portugália restaurant chain, is the other known candidate. However, in terms of real estate-tourism project, it is little different from the previous competitor.

3. What was the initial project?

For several reasons, I got to know the Espírito Santo group project. But first, a few information about the Herdade da Comporta as a whole. Comporta with 12,500 hectares was, and is, a natural, environmental and ecological heritage of inestimable value and unique in Europe.

This area was roughly distributed as follows: beaches and dunes, 624ha; várzea, 1,006ha; forests and bushes, 8,253ha; Estuary of Sado and Sapal, 1,698ha; urban agglomerations (7 villages), 175ha; areas of tourist development, 744ha.

On these 744 hectares two tourist development zones, designated by ADT2 and ADT3, were foreseen, located first in the county of Alcácer and, secondly, in the one of Grândola – very distant between them. To get a precise idea, ADT2 (next to Comporta village) would have: 2 4 and 5 star hotels; 2 4-star and 5-star hotels; 3 tourist villages with capacity for 1,750 tourist beds and villas with a capacity for 1,500 residential beds.

The two hotels planned for the central part of the ADT would be surrounded by two golf courses. ADT2 would have a strong sporting environment. The ADT3 (next to the village of Carvalhal) would integrate 5,700 beds distributed by 4 hotels; 1 hotel-apartment; 760 houses in tourist village and 335 lots of housing. There would be at this ADT a golf course with 18 holes in 100ha.

It should be noted that all buildings would be at most two stories high and would not exceed the tops of adult trees. All this approved by the respective Autarchies.

But Herdade da Comporta was not limited to the tourist project. It had other values, mainly agricultural (rice, wine and other cultures) and the idea was to give consistency and coherence to the development of Comporta, integrating for example the 7 villages that are part of Comporta in the global dynamics, assigning it functions in the gastronomy , culture and the arts. Here is a brief note of the initial project of Herdade da Comporta.

4. Will the money speak louder?

Among these three purchase proposals are two distinct blocks. The one linked to the Amorim group and the Carvalho Martins family are fundamentally based on the premises of the basic tourist component of the Espírito Santo group. That of the French prince is indeed revolutionary.

In this, nothing of the initial project was foreseen, except the Hotel Aman already under construction, whose architecture the own one of Broglie considers uninteresting for not respecting the characteristics of the Alentejo. In terms of design, no doubt this alone could become an icon for Portugal in European and world terms.

I get the feeling that the overall view of the development of the Herdade da Comporta was amputated, because from what I read, only the touristic-real estate component is on sale. On this basis, only the vision of Louis-Albert de Broglie can save Comporta. But I fear that what will prevail in the sale is money.

* The author writes according to the old spelling agreement in Jornal Económico

Article published in Jornal Económico on July 9, 2018