By Humphrey Carter

PALMA

THE abandoned GESA building which for years has dominated Palma's sea front is to become a new social, cultural, entertainment and tourism centre.
The building, constructed between 1967 and 1977, was initially going to be demolished to make way for the new convention centre and luxury hotel which is currently being built next door.

But, it was eventually saved and classed as a a building of architectural importance.
Now, after having laid abandoned and become a magnet for squatters of the past few years, it is to have a new lease of life, according to the Mayor of Palma, Aina Calvo, and the City Councillor for Urban development, Yolanda Garvi.

According to the Mayor, who unveiled the surprise project yesterday, work is going to start more or less immediately on the two first floors which are going to be transformed into multipurpose rooms for local residents associations.

There will also be an auditorium with capacity for 200 people, a public library, adult educational class rooms and training facilities as well as a new Local Police station to serve the local community.

The attic floor is going to be home to a new restaurant with panoramic views out to sea or inland to the mountains and other hostelry services and facilities.

The six intermediary floors are going to be used as office space for Palma City Council tourism promotion and treasury departments.
Calvo made it clear that part of the project is going to involve private funding and certain areas, such as the attic restaurant, will be put up for public tender.

The City Councillor for Urban Development, Yolanda Garvi, said that the reformation project for the first two floors should be completed within this first quarter and that work is expected to get underway by either the end of May or the beginning of June.

Garvi said that she is confident that by the end of this year or early 2012, the lower floors, such as those being reformed for the use of the local community and residents as well as the new auditorium and Local Police station, should be fit to be moved into.

Disabled access to the building is also going to be improved and it will be linked up to the new auditorium and surrounded by a large landscape garden area - in keeping with the new design of Palma's sea front which will be dominated by the new convention centre and hotel.

Calvo believes that this will guarantee the future of the GESA building which was declared a building of architectural importance in 2007 by the Council of Majorca with the backing of the local college of architects.

PP THREAT TO BUILDING
However, the Mayor of Palma warned yesterday that, should the opposition Partido Popular win the May municipal elections, it is neither impossible nor unthinkable that the new government would demolish the building. Apparently, the leader of the Palma branch of the Partido Popular, Jose Maria Rodriquez, has already made it clear that, should the Partido Popular return to power in Palma in the May elections, the building, which covers an area of 16'679 square metres, will come down.

However, in a bid to preserve the building, which ever party or parties, win the elections, at today's Palma City Council meeting, it will be proposed that it is declared a public building and becomes the full responsibility of Palma City Council and not the Council of Majorca's Heritage Department.

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