For the last three months, a group of overseas investment companies have been lobbying Torrevieja’s Town Hall for more information about the proposed building sites for luxury Hi-Rise 4 & 5-star hotels within the city. Back in September 2008, just as the recession kicked in, the proposal for this scheme first came to light but with Spanish Banks reluctant to lend funding for any development projects, it’s been up to innovative and speculative foreign investors, who have a vision of a bright future for Torrevieja, to pique the interest of the Town Council once again.
It may have taken three months of research, questions and prodding to receive a positive reaction from the town hall but in the space of just 48-hours, the news of possible skyscrapers along the Torrevieja Coast Line made front-page news and featured on the major Spanish TV and Radio news channels. I asked one of their development management team about their interest in Torrevieja over other locations in Spain. In essence, the attraction of Torrevieja is because of her forward thinking council, stability and aggressive investment program along with the multicultural nature of the city.
In the last three years alone, over one hundred and fifty million euros has been invested in Torrevieja. Recently the city has benefited from a new Hospital, Health Centres, the just announced Microsoft Research Centre, new Sports facilities, new management team at FC Torrevieja, Theatres, Multi-Level parking, pedestrian areas and beautification of the downtown area, work continuing on the Eras de la Sal, Superior Conservatory of Music and Dance, La Mata Town Hall, parks and gardens, new transport infrastructure and just this week, they announced another ten-million to be spent on upgrading and renewing the majority of road surfaces around the city! Further investment is also evident in the Desalination Plant and the ambitious 130-million euro Harbour plan. It’s no wonder that the outside world is sitting up and noticing the City of Salt.
The missing link in Torrevieja and her status on the Costa Blanca, has always been one of a lack of quality hotels. With less than 2,000 beds available in the city and only a couple of three or four star establishments, Torrevieja is in need of quality facilities, especially if hoping to attract the global conference trade, for the multitude of quality cultural events (such as the Habaneras festival) plus with a new management force at FC Torrevieja and the city’s own excellent sporting facilities, the future is also rosy for the development of major sports games and tournaments, not thought possible until now.
As expected, the opposition parties objected to the proposal but the motion passed and the Town Council shall now push forward their plan for validation by the Generalitat Valenciana. Torrevieja is now seeking permission to build up to thirty (30), twenty (20) storey Hotels, in any of the six designated areas on the first line to the beach. Other areas away from the first line have also been identified. The areas sited for possible development are Campico San Mamés between the Acequión beach and the International Marina, Playa de los Náufragos, Curva del Palangre, next to the Los Locos beach and Las Lomas in La Mata.
Since 1987, and with very few exceptions, developers in Torrevieja have only been granted permission for townhouses or buildings of five storeys with attics. For over a decade the City Council has sought permission to build vertically, in part to break up the horizon and afford more visitors a view of the Mediterranean! On Tuesday, Mayor Pedro Hernandez Mateo was limited in the council meeting to only reading the proposal on the agenda, without addressing the merits of such a project. Back in September 2008, the mayor was much more animated in his approach and picked up two cartons to graphically illustrate the difference between horizontal construction – occupying more land and the Vertical approach, such as is most popular in Benidorm, which makes better use of the available ground area and only partially obscures the panoramic sea view.
Even if such a proposal is greeted with open arms and passed by provincial government, with basic build costs starting at around forty million euros, such projects shall not be flying upwards in the very near future.
This week, a development team met with the Mayor and Graham Knight from the Foreign Residents Office to look over the proposed sites; the first small steps in the process. It might only take two years to actually construct a Hotel, once authorization to build a twenty-storey facility offering three-hundred to five-hundred or more suites is given but, the developers still have to achieve good occupancy figures to make it all worthwhile. For most residents and casual onlookers, the prospect of a luxury hotel in Torrevieja will be seen as good news. After waiting for more than ten years on a decision, let’s hope that it’s sooner rather than later, for that elusive Green Light!