Successful conversion of right of use into ownership title on construction land for Blue Center

by ZS Law

Živković Samardžić, one of the Serbia’s leading full-service independent law firms, has advised Blue Center d.o.o. during the successful proceedings resulting in conversion of their right of use on construction land occupied by Blue Center, a 35,000 plus square meters A+ class office building in the most prominent area of New Belgrade, into an ownership title without a fee.

For more than 50 years, the state was the sole owner of urban construction land in Serbia, and the maximum scope of rights someone could have on such land was a permanent right of use, or a long-term lease of 99 years. The Planning and Construction Law of 2009 paved the way for privatization of state-owned construction land through a conversion of right of use into ownership title, either without a fee, as a general rule, or for a fee, depending on when and how the land was acquired. However, in 2013, the Constitutional Court of Serbia declared provisions of the Planning and Construction Law regarding conversion for a fee unconstitutional. The decision resulted in increased legal uncertainty for investors and huge losses for the Serbian construction industry. The matter was resolved in 2015 through the enactment of a new Law on conversion of right of use into ownership of construction land for a fee.

What still burdens the application of the rules regulating the conversion without a fee, is that attorney-generals, both on the national, regional, or local levels, do appeal conversion decisions and require conversion for a fee rules to be applied, even on a precautionary basis. Such practices are resulting in time and resources consuming administrative appellate proceedings. In Blue Center case, Živković Samardžić lawyers managed to avoid administrative appellate proceedings and complete the conversion within just two months.

Blue Center d.o.o. is an investment of Bluehouse Capital Advisor, a private equity real estate investment management firm focused in Central and South East Europe. Their 35,000 plus square meters A+ class office building in New Belgrade is the first BREEAM certified building in Serbia and also the first Green building in the country by any accreditation system. Some of the Blue Center tenants are companies such as Microsoft, LG, NCR, Sitel and EY, as well as The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Council of Europe.

The Živković Samardžić team that has advised Blue Center d.o.o. on its conversion of right of use into ownership title was led by partner Uroš Đorđević.

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