Arthur Moreno
Co-founder
Stone Capital

08 March 2022

Stone Capital is a developer and asset manager in Portugal that specializes in the refurbishment of prime buildings in the Lisbon area, as well as in greenfield developments.

How did Stone Capital come to life and what is the current footprint of the company?

My brother and I have been in Portugal for 20 years and in 2010 we realized that in the center of Lisbon there were many buildings in need of rehabilitation. Although Portugal had been hit really hard by the crisis, we saw there was potential to buy valuable assets in historical neighborhoods, that could be refurbished and re-sold at a profitable price. Back then, nobody was doing this type of projects and we didn't have much financing, but in 2014 the market started attracting the attention of international investors through various incentives such as residency programs and tax incentives. In parallel Portugal attracted a lot of attention not only for these incentives, but also for its culture, climate, lifestyle, safety, beaches ultimately its quality of life. That’s when we expanded and continue to expand our footprint via investment and lifestyle properties.

At first, we started with mixed-use buildings with high street retail on the ground floor and residential apartments on the next levels. Later on, we diversified our portfolio and introduced office projects, an international school project, several hospitality mixed use projects (residential units and hotels in close vicinity) but also F&B spaces (rooftop bars, restaurants on the beach, etc.). However, our core business remains real estate, 80% of our portfolio being residential and retail. All the residential projects we're developing are exclusively for sale, but we rent out the offices and retail spaces.

How much opportunity is there left in the rehabilitation sector at this moment in Portugal?

Rehabilitation is only a small portion of our portfolio right now, because we reoriented towards building from scratch, so we are doing more greenfield projects. We made this move because in rehabilitation there is not much opportunity left in the premium areas that we are interested in. We bought plots of land in Lisbon and Cascais in good locations than have special features and can turn into great use assets. The projects where there is a balanced mixture of refurbishment and new builds are our favorites.

What's the primary niche you're developing your projects for, seeing how in Lisbon it's very difficult to build for the middle class?

Since we’ve started, we’ve been diverse in the type and scale of the developments, focusing on the location and on the particularities of the buildings that make them unique. This has been our DNA since the beginning and through our experience and through time, we have diversified into green field developments, sustainable developments, educational and hospitality. We are known for the high-end segment and this is our target for the foreseeable future, choosing to stay on this path in order to protect our brand. The average products that we build are in the premium but quite affordable category. In Lisbon due to the initial purchase price and construction fees, it's impossible to sell anything below EUR 5,000 per square meter. As a result, all new residential units in Lisbon are considered high-end due to the final price. Even in peripheric neighborhoods (near the airport) the price is around EUR 4,000, so, to be able to build for the middle class in Lisbon, a partnership with the city hall is needed.

What is particular about Stone Capital’s brand identity, in a space with generous high end resi and retail projects? 

First, we focus on choosing the right asset from the start, we are really cherry-picking each opportunity. We work with top architects and spend a lot of time optimizing the building process. The exterior spaces, the layout, the interior design and the materials used need to be perfectly aligned both esthetically and functionally. On top of these, we have a strong team spirit inside the company where all members become involved in all aspects of the process.

We have 20 projects in our pipeline, equally dear to us. But if we were to choose the jewel of the crown, Villa Maria Pia in Estoril would be the winner, being one of the most valued residential projects in Portugal. It is the former residence of the homonymous queen – it spreads over 10,000 square meters of land; it's placed on the ocean shore and features luxuriant gardens and luminous apartments. We also have a project in Graca: Jardim da Gloria, which is an island of green in the middle of the city; a mix of refurbishment and two new buildings with wooden facades, that contains a sustainable mini city farm inside.

Talking about sustainability, how is this idea reflected in the residential market in Portugal?

 

I would be very happy if sustainability would be taken more seriously by the industry as a whole and not only by developers. Only together with construction companies and investors we can make the real estate market a little bit greener than it is today.

 

For example, we developed a project in Comporta ( Comporta Retreat) encompassing 29 large plots  and are currently building houses for our clients made of CLT  cross laminated timber, which is a sustainable material with a negative carbon footprint. We want to become a part of the solution, not of the problem because Portugal is still catching up in the sustainability sector. In the residential sector, the clients are not yet ready to pay more for a sustainable house, in contrast with the office segment.

What are the plans you are the most excited to achieve in the next two to three years?

We aim to turn into reality all the big projects under development. We also wish to make a strong push for sustainable practices. Finally, we intend to remain focused on the Portuguese market because we know it well and there is much left to be done here.

  • Share on: