A 17-YEAR saga over the illegal use of Benidorm’s bus station complex has reached an important breakthrough.
Benidorm council has finally struck a deal with Alicante developer, Enrique Ortiz, over the scrapping of his 50-year concession for the facility.
Ortiz has been at the centre of a string of corruption allegations across the Costa Blanca, and is a self-admitted financial backer of the Partido Popular(PP).
He is currently involved in an ongoing case where he is accused of getting inside information over the Alicante City urban plan from the then-PP mayor, Sonia Castedo, as well as offering ‘gifts’ to key local officials.
The search for a new operator of the Benidorm bus station building will be advertised in a tender and the winning bidder will have to pay Ortiz €24.5 million for the termination of his contract.
The market value figure was worked out in a joint commission involving council officials and representatives from Ortiz’s company.
The switch, demanded in a national Supreme Court ruling in 2012, also means that the entire commercial and hotel complex will be finally legalised.
On his part, Ortiz’s company has to pledge to leave the facility in perfect condition and spend €287,000 on rehabilitation work.
The history over the Benidorm bus station building is regarded as one of the biggest-ever planning irregularities in the city.
Benidorm council awarded the station construction project to Ortiz in 2003, which included plans for a small array of shops occupying 500 square metres.
The controversial Alicante developer ended up illegally developing 10,000 square metres in addition to adding two extra storeys to the adjoining hotel.
In 2007 and 2012, two court judgments annulled the concession to Ortiz because the development was completely different from what had been agreed in 2003.
It’s been estimated that Ortiz’s illegal work cost around €50 million with the original bus station project coming in at under €6 million.
A string of proposals over the last eight years to enact the Supreme Court ruling had come to nothing, with Benidorm council pledging to ensure that no public money is spent to resolve the issue once and for all.