One of the currently largest construction projects of Aldi Süd, which also has its stores in Portugal, is in Germany, where a completely new discount store and other discounters will be located on a total of 12,000 square meters. Together with local construction companies, ALDI Süd is building 115 apartments above the shops, which will then be rented out.

Aldi does not want to open a new source of income, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to get building permits for new supermarkets in sought-after inner-city locations, the same applies to Portugal. Now the discounters are luring the municipalities with what they need most: affordable housing, just like here in Portugal.

In Germany alone, this Aldi Süd is planning two thousand residential units, half of the apartments above the Aldi stores will be student apartments.

Just imagine a discount store in Lisbon that puts thousands of apartments on the roofs of its stores. This business model will follow others' lead and should be rewarded with tax benefits in Portugal as well.

Only the ground floor looks different than usual. Where in similar buildings there is only the front door, a supermarket branch grows out of the residential building. Upstairs apartments, downstairs supermarket, an idea that could have discounters build around five thousand apartments in the next five to seven years, in combination with their own supermarket branches. It would be a win-win situation for all municipalities and tenants.

There are about 3400 supermarkets in Portugal, with a minimum development of about twenty residential units per supermarket, we would already have 68,000 additional apartments. With fifty residential units per supermarket, we would already be at a number that could solve a lot. That would be an impetus for our politicians and their approach to solutions to our housing shortage.

Developing single-storey plots of land is a waste of space for the owner, and this needs to be changed. In addition, if you live above a discount store, you are highly likely to shop there as well. In addition, the idea of large parking lots dates to the nineties, when people mainly went shopping by car and the housing shortage was not so pronounced.

In the meantime, behaviour has changed, especially in the inner cities of the large metropolises, but also in the smaller towns. People shop more often and, at least in this area, come more by electromobility, cycling or walking. In short, stand-alone shops on the Greenway with high usable space and monofunctional use have long been out of date and need new concepts in Portugal as well.

The apartments should be for singles, seniors and families, and simple multi-generational housing projects would also be good. All properties should comply with ESG standards for real estate funds. Thus, all houses should have photovoltaic systems, green roofs and building services with heat recovery.

For me, the concept of mixed real estate has the following advantages. Inner cities will be densified, jobs will be created, and additional living or usable space will be created at controlled costs. At the same time, food retailing can become a source of footfall for the entire district and boost business for others. For residents, mixed-use creates short, fast distances. This aspect is becoming increasingly important against the backdrop of an increasingly older society and an increased sensitivity to distance among the younger generations. The willingness to invest time and travel distances for purchases decreases. The brick-and-mortar shopping location remains attractive if it is easily accessible with various mobility services and easily fits into the daily commutes without additional effort.

It will certainly be exciting to see at what prices the discounter apartments will be rented out afterwards, but here too I believe in a relative win-win situation.


Paulo Lopes is a multi-talent Portuguese citizen who made his Master of Economics in Switzerland and studied law at Lusófona in Lisbon - CEO of Casaiberia in Lisbon and Algarve.

Paulo Lopes