The ex-owner of El Barco admits a maintenance deficit

"It was done day by day, but not what had to be done".

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
29 March 2024 Friday 11:06
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The ex-owner of El Barco admits a maintenance deficit

"It was done day by day, but not what had to be done". Miguel Bonet, former owner of El Barco, assumes the lack of maintenance of the building declared to be in imminent danger of collapse this week which led to the eviction of 38 families in Esplugues de Llobregat. Attend La Vanguardia and explain the reasons: "This story is very long", he warns.

The ancient building was built during the 1940s, but the situation changed through the General Metropolitan Plan (PGM) of 1976, the plan modified a thousand times and created during the last throes of the Franco regime that still governs the area metropolitan area of ​​Barcelona urbanistically. "When it was built, it was a residential area, but it became a green area. A change was made with the Finestrelles area, which is more expensive", recalls the former owner of the property.

The years passed and El Barco, which is witness to the social transformation of Esplugues by seeing different generations of immigrants who arrived in Catalonia in search of a better life, continued to collect rent. But its future was planned: succumb to the woodpecker and become a green area.

Bonet admits that he didn't invest in maintenance "as he should have done because he knew it was going to be expropriated and demolished". And the years passed. Despite this, "the building is not about to fall", says the ex-owner of El Barco.

Bonet recalls that around 2004 the City Council "came to look for me" and they reached an "unofficial, not signed agreement", but the great economic crisis that followed prevented it. However, the moment came when he decided to "complain so I wouldn't be left without a duro". And, in this way, already in 2018, the courts decided in favor of Miguel Bonet.

"I am very aware of the value of that expropriation: 3.6 million euros. In addition to interest that has not yet been paid. And the ruling said that it had to become a green area", explains the first lieutenant of the mayor of Esplugues City Council, Eduard Sanz. "In fact, at the beginning it was the Generalitat, which had to pay, but in the end it was decided that it would be the City Council", he adds. It is also a history of judicial appeals.

The first lieutenant of the mayor's office explains that, despite the fact that the ruling is earlier, the City Council has been the owner of El Barco for a year because that's when "the principal has just been paid, interest aside". But, in any case, the Consistory knew years ago that they would take on this hot potato and that the neighbors could not continue. Why were residential alternatives not prepared earlier? "It's what we were doing", answers Sanz. "We started working on it a couple of years ago, but everything has been rushed", he acknowledges.

One of the ideas is for residents to spend "a year and a half, two or three" there while they find other places to live in new urban developments with officially protected housing, such as the Montesa neighborhood. "We haven't had time", says the first deputy mayor.

But Monday came. It was then that for the first time a technical report, carried out by Syntesis Architecture, decreed that El Barco is "in a situation of threat of ruin" and that "it does not meet sufficient safety conditions to be inhabited; therefore, it represents a real risk to people and property, so it must be considered in a situation of imminent ruin". And so began the nightmare that the families have been living through for the past few days.