The new shopping and leisure centre in Torremolinos is finally taking shape after years of administrative delays. The project depended on the town masterplan (PGOU) for the municipality being approved, and now all that remains to be done after more than ten years of bureaucratic and political hold-ups is for it to be published in the Junta de Andalucía's official bulletin (BOJA).
The developers are investing 850 million euros in this complex, which is to be named Intu Costa del Sol, and it will be one of the most ambitious projects carried out in Andalucía for several years. It is expected to open in 2023.
The shopping and leisure centre will be built north of the Palacio de Congresos, and the owners anticipate that it will attract around 30 million visitors a year. This means that the accesses from the A-7, AP-7 and N-340 will have to be widened and improved to absorb so much extra traffic.
This has been one of the main problems in getting the project off the ground, and two years ago the Junta de Andalucía partially approved the new PGOU for Torremolinos with the exception of the land where the Intu was to be built, until a technical solution to the problem could be found.
This summer, the Ministry of Public Works gave the green light to the proposals presented by Torremolinos council, whereby the access from Calle Costa Rica will have three lanes instead of one, and new accesses will be built along Calle Rocío Jurado and from the western bypass. These works will be financed by the developers.
Once these proposals were approved, the suspension of the Urban Plan could be lifted and Intu and Eurofund swung into action. They say the project will generate more than 6,000 direct jobs: about 2,000 while the works are being carried out and 4,450 once the complex is open. The companies say that at least 25 per cent of jobs will be given to local people and around 65 per cent of employees will be women.
The shopping area will be 142,000 square metres, but as yet it is not known which stores will have a presence there. The remainder of the space will be used for gardens and leisure facilities, with about 70 restaurants and an urban farm. The plans also include a notary's office, a beach club, an auditorium for up to 5,000 people, a children's play area and a variety of other attractions.
The CEO of Intu in Spain and managing partner of Eurofund, Salvador Arenere, said at the presentation at the Meliá Costa del Sol hotel that the complex will be "a tourist destination in itself", and that an electric train will run between the re and the town centre. "The Guggenheim transformed Bilbao, and this project will do the same for Torremolinos," he said.
He was also keen to stress that the figures quoted by Intu are not estimates. "They are not aspirations, they are calculations made from real bases, and are even on the low side for reasons of caution".
He also insisted that Brexit will not affect the project in any way, and with regard to Intu's previous financial difficulties he said the company formed with Eurofund, backed by a Canadian investment fund, provides sufficient financial viability to meet a commitment of this type.
"Intu Costa del Sol is going to put Torremolinos back on the world stage again," he said, and also explained that the centre will be sustainably managed, using recycled water and renewable energies.