The Pullmans apartments in Cala Major used to be worth just 15,000 euros and in 2016 around 75% of the properties were occupied by squatters.
But now the studios have been given a massive facelift, pushing the value up to 120,000 euros and making them the envy of the neighbourhood.
"Before no one wanted to have anything to do with us and now people in the other buildings look at us and say why can't we be like the Pullmans?" says Building Administrator, Bartolomé Soto, who looks after the 4 best-known buildings in Cala Major.
The renovations have also been welcomed by neighbours who were fed up with the stigma attached to the area because of the Pullmans.
“We have changed things a lot thanks to private investment,” says Soto. "There are 205 studio apartments and they were selling for 15,000 euros each in 2016, but now they’re going for 75,000 if they’re unreformed and 120,000 if they’ve already been reformed. Rents have also increased from 150 euros to 600 or 700 euros for a 26 square metre property. When the squatters moved in, the few owners that were left in the buildings locked themselves in their homes, because they were afraid.”
Soto is credited as the architect of the Pullman miracle, by real estate agent, Mike Stetson who has one of the studios on his books.
"70 percent of the apartments have already been renovated and are tenanted by people living alone or in pairs,” says Soto.
The renovation of the Pullmans has increased the value of other properties in the area as well,” says Stretson. "In fact the whole of Palma is rising in price. At the beginning of the pandemic prices fell by 5 percent, now property prices in the whole city have gone up 10 percent."
At the end of 2016, Soto took over the position of Administrator of the estate and bit by bit things started to improve.
“The first meeting ended with fights and police vans, but some of the hard core owners persuaded me stay and to try to change things. We started making improvements to comply with the ITEs, like propping up the stairs which were at risk of collapse,” explains Soto. "In 2017, we installed a concierge and security cameras, then people from Palma started investing here and between 2017 and 2020 sales were brutal.”
The transformation has also meant a change in profile of both landlords and tenants.
"Crime has plummeted,” says Soto. “The police used to come here two or three times a day, now they tell me they’ve had no reason to come to the Pullmans for a very long time. A relentless policy of denunciation has been carried out, so nothing goes unpunished. If there is a break, the person is identified, located and charged thanks to the security cameras.”
The renovations included the repair and modernisation of the lifts, the removal of air conditioners and clotheslines from the façade.
“Now we have to do the corridors, doors and windows. The car park is already under construction and we will plant trees, then start on the pool,” says Soto. "Before, there were only 20 electricity meters in the Pullmans and the squatters stole the power so the owners had 600 euro bills every month. When the squatters started stealing power from the lifts the electrical installation caught fire.”
The stigma of the Pullmans buildings is so bad that two of the buildings have been given new names; the Rubens building and Saridakis 24.
“There is a brutal neglect in this neighbourhood,” complains Soto.