Someone shoot the White Elephant!

The architect Orihol Bohigas, designer of the Barcelona Olympics and winner of the  National Prize for Architecture in 2006, visited Valencia yesterday, and made a number of comments that wouldn’t have sat well with Mayoress Rita Barberá and her town hall cronies who are trying to drive an almost totally unwanted extention of Avenida Blasco Ibañez through the historic fishermen’s barrio of Cabanyal. He also had something to say about the Port America’s Cup, the multi-million euro white elephant that stands like a ghost town since the most ‘exclusive race in the world’ left in 2007.

“La persona que imaginó este espacio y esta operación es una inepta total”, said Sr. Bohigas. It barely needs translation, but he was saying  that the person who thought of the space and the way it would work – or not, as has actually happened – is totally inept. Now that’s something that many of us have been thinking for almost three years! Whereas the Olympic Village in Barcelona became a wonderful waterfront place to while away a few hours, the Port America’s Cup lies like the memory of a bad curry on the stomach the day after you ate it.

Which leaves us with the question, “What are we going to do with the beautiful but glaringly white elephant that is the Puerto Americas Cup?”

This multi-million euro drain on the public purse had a brief couple of months of glory in 2007 and has since stood all but deserted.  The only action seen there these days is for the few days of the Formula 1, another enormous drain on the public purse, which brings in precious little in return, whose track runs through the port.

At five minutes before two on a Friday lunchtime, when restaurants would normally be filling up, the staff at elegant Arribar set out on the terrace over forty tables, each with four chairs, with half as many again inside – with not one customer. Throughout the chi-chi area not one member of the general public moves, sits down to lunch or even takes a beer. Everywhere, broken plant holders and streaked paint give off an air of neglect.

Weeds grow through the slats of the wooden seats built for people to watch the America’s Cup on enormous TV screens. It’s a perfect place to have an open air cinema, under the stars, with a cooling breeze blowing off the Med, but the Town Hall doesn’t seem to have thought of that, or thought of anything else to do with enormous area of big venue spaces, open air walkways, fancy bars and restaurants – it even has its own Victorian bandstand. And there’s no sign of the floating golf course we’ve been promised – at least we can be grateful for something!

So, wanted, an astute, inventive, far-sighted entrepreneur, with ideas, plenty of money and an ability to deal with a lot of bureaucratic plonkers. Valencianos need not apply. It was you lot who got us into the situation in the first place!

If you would like to know more about Spain, visit my web site and Spain Uncovered

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