Sindicat in Felanitx, abandoned for years even though it is a listed building. | Joan Socias


The Sindicat in Felanitx takes its name from the syndicate which was the wine cooperative - Bodega Cooperativa de Felanitx - founded in 1913. Work on the actual Sindicat building started in 1919 and it took four years to complete. It was the grandest of all Majorca's bodegas and is now a protected building.

The cooperative went into decline. Saddled with enormous debt, equivalent to some 780,000 euros, what had been one of the town's main industrial plants was taken on by La Caixa in 1990. The bank administered the debts and put the building up for auction. It was bought by a Binissalem wine producer, Pau Ripoll Pou, who had the bad luck to lose investment from a wealthy German who died before plans to revitalise the building could be realised. In addition, the declaration of the building being in the cultural interest by the Council of Majorca and then economic crisis put a stop to any idea of restoration and redevelopment.

Recognised as being important in terms both of industrial heritage and the history of Majorca's wine trade, there is now a new plan to restore the building, which has been abandoned for years and been subject to vandalism. The Council of Majorca is set to strike an agreement with the regional government and Felanitx town hall for spending 4.4 million euros to come from statutory investments.

The Council's president, Miquel Ensenyat, says that this money will be used "to expropriate by mutual agreement" the old building and to then restore it. Once acquired, the idea is for an international centre of fine arts under the direction of a Felanitx painter, Miquel Barceló. Ensenyat adds that the idea for converting the building has in fact come from Barceló.

The Spanish government is also involved in any redevelopment, so the project is somewhat complicated. Nevertheless, the hope and the belief is that a foundation will be created in order to realise Barceló's vision to create a centre that will reinvigorate the area and act as a means for promoting local artists. Wine won't be forgotten, as the project also envisages its promotion.

If all goes to plan, Ensenyat suggests that agreements can be concluded in less than a month's time. Money would then be transferred from statutory investments, at which point the Council will start the procedure to expropriate the building.