Five years ago, the then mayor said that he didn't want it to become "a desert". | Miquel À. Cañellas


On Friday there was a meeting between Palma's councillor for urban planning, Óscar Fidalgo, and owners of units in the one-time shopping centre beneath Plaça Major. There are 25 private owners in all. Three turned up to the meeting.

The town hall, which took back the keys from tenants of units at the end of 2019, wants to purchase all the others that are in private hands and then proceed with rehabilitation. The offer is 1,900 euros per square metre. In the opinion of a representative of the owners, Andrés Isern, "it is a ridiculous price". "It's theft, as it's a bargain price."

While the town hall is said to be willing to up the offer by ten per cent, it would still be insufficient. Isern cites values of premises elsewhere - modest values, not ones for the likes of the Born or Jaume III. These can be in the region of 4,000 euros per square metre and more. "We're not asking for that amount, but the town hall's offer is even below the cadastral valuation."

The association of owners has commissioned its own appraisal, taking into account the market price in the area. "This is a shopping centre, or that was how it operated until it closed."

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There is willingness to accept an offer up to 25 per cent below the market price, but the association expects that in the end there will be forced expropriation, at which point litigation is likely to follow in demanding higher compensation.

But what will happen to this space once the town hall has all the units? Its proposal is the creation of a "sociocultural centre" to accommodate an interpretation centre for the city. And what would this be? There are critics of what is felt to be a vague proposal, while there are other suggestions. For example, the Pimeco retailers association wants there to be shops; not franchises but local businesses and with an emphasis on gastronomy. Failing this, says Pimeco, it should be for car parking.

These different proposals are essentially, therefore, the same as those that were made when the town started talking about a redevelopment more than five years ago. That was when PSOE, Més and Podemos were running the town hall.

In January 2019, then mayor Antoni Noguera said that he didn't want delays in decision-making which could mean that the centre turns into "a desert". With the PP and Vox in charge, can it genuinely be said that there is any clearer idea?