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The 125,322,801.26 € Swindle

Every time I drive into Palma, I get annoyed about the massive new furuncle of a building site, at the end of the motor way, just at the entrance to the Ciutat de Palma. The monstrosity is to be Palma’s new Palau de Congressos (Convention Centre) with an added-on hotel. We are told that the building is at about 50 % of its completion; the Palma town hall expects the building to be completed and in full service by the end of 2011.

I am sorry, but I don’t like what I see and I don’t agree with what is being said. Mallorca may or may not need a new 2,440 seat congress centre. But I question the intelligence of our politicians to locate such an intrusive building at Palma’s unique sea front, within a short distance of La Seu, Palma’s Gothic Cathedral. Ten years ago, before Mallorca’s new airport was inaugurated, plans were ripe to add a new Convention Centre within the complex of the airport but, these plans never went to fruition. I expect that at that time no hotel group could be found to run the Centre at the airport vicinity.

It has been rumoured that it was the Mallorcan hotel lobby that instigated the idea of a seafront location near the city centre. The Mallorcan hotel group, Barceló Hotels & Resorts finally entered into the project as concessionary but has since withdrawn from the project. No commercial entity is now in charge of the Palau de Congressos when it will be up and running. I am afraid that in the current climate and with the economic crisis in Spain and elsewhere, this project might end up as a white elephant.

When the project was first launched, an architectural competition with international participation was launched, including names such as Juan Navarro, Rafael Moneo, Richard Rogers and Souto de Moura. The winner was Patxi Mangado, a Spanish architect from Navarra. The models of all entrants were put on public exhibition. I remember that there were proposals that would have been more pleasing to my eye but I am not arguing the design here but the location, the commercial wisdom and the basic need for such a large size convention centre on our island.

The approved budget for the construction of the building is said to be 125,322,801.26 €. Add to this the invariable cost overruns plus the fixtures and fittings (plus a little kick-back) and we are talking about 200,000,000 € or more, without any concessionary appointed as yet to run the place. As it stands, Palma’s Ajuntament (town hall) already had to apply for credit finance to keep the construction going, but with Spain’s new austerity measures, support from the Government in Madrid may be a long way away.

In the end, it will be the taxpayers again who will be asked to foot the bill. Thank you very much, Señor Matas.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 27th, 2010. The time was 19:59:21.

2 replies »

  1. You are exactly right. This will be nothing but an expensive white elephant. And probably in a year or so there will be all sorts of anti-corruption probes into where all the money went. This is Palma Arena with a sea view.

  2. Not only is the site for this hideous complex the final ruination of the seafront but as the “welcome” to Palma for visitors coming in from the airport, the building is becoming one of the more aggressive assaults – literally and visually – as it juts out into the road. Even before the withdrawal of Acciona and Barcelo, it was obvious that this project would be another expensive white elephant… as you say, Gracias, Jaume Matas!

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