The Social Club on the Paseo Marítimo. | Miquel À. Cañellas

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Alfonso Robledo, president of the CAEB restaurants association, says that people are waiting for work to start on Palma's Paseo Marítimo. It can't come soon enough. Right now, he adds, the frontline is "horrible".

Certain establishments have closed, others are up for sale, while the Social Club will disappear because of expropriation for the work. The planned project looks "very nice", says Luis Recobeni of Mercat 1930, but he's worried about how long it might take.

The expropriation is to enable the transformation of the Paseo Marítimo, for which there is a working group on which Robledo's association is represented, as are the Balearic Ports Authority (APB) and Palma town hall.

The APB is still analysing bids before awarding contracts for the work. There is a budget of 43 million euros. Joan Riera from the town hall's urban planning department says the work will represent "a very important step for the city". Before the elections next May, the work will start and cover a distance of 3.5 kilometres from Avenida Argentina to Porto Pi.

The project is being coordinated by the town hall and the APB. Riera stresses that it will be a "major transformation". He points out that it was possible to see how the Paseo Marítimo could be after the state of alarm lockdown in spring 2020. Traffic was restricted by half to make way for pedestrians. "There is potential and the will for it to be a space for citizens." There will be wider and more extensive bike lanes and an increase in vegetation.

Riera cites examples of seafront and riverside transformations elsewhere. San Francisco, where there was a three-lane highway, now has a tram, a boulevard and a car lane in both directions. Bordeaux, Düsseldorf and Stockholm are other examples where greater prominence has been given to public space. "It is one of the most important works that will be carried out in Palma over the coming years."

Biel Horrach, the director-general of urban planning, highlights the fact that "the relationship between the city and the sea has been disrupted for years" because of road traffic. The project will be "positive" in terms of cars sharing space with pedestrians and bicycles. It is about "a reunion of the city with the sea". And in this regard, the Club de Mar will be unified with the new Paseo Marítimo. Sixty million euros are being invested - the largest private investment in public port land in Spain, say Club de Mar sources.