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The land on which the animal shelter once stood, ready for construction. JCR
An American millionaire's dying wish: dogs before development in Torremolinos
Animal welfare

An American millionaire's dying wish: dogs before development in Torremolinos

Sally left her estate, La Pacaraima, to her employees, but they could only sell it after the last of the 77 dogs she cared for at her animal shelter died, which happened some eleven years after her death

Ignacio Lillo

Friday, 1 March 2024, 16:21

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The former property of one of Torremolinos' most popular expat residents, who died in 2011, is to be converted into a residential development consisting of nearly 40 luxury homes.

The project was only made possible 11 years after the death of the owner of the large estate, Sara Ángela de Alzaga Robinson, as her instructions concerning the property have now been fulfilled.

Known in Torremolinos as Sally, the childless millionaire had spent a good part of her life on her estate, La Pacaraima, in Montemar, where she created a shelter for abandoned animals.

Sally's fortune was inherited from her father, Martín de Alzaga Unzué, an Argentine racing driver and 'playboy'. He was also the owner of the El Morocco club in New York, one of the most famous and exclusive of its time, and which attracted celebrities such as Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe and Truman Capote.

Sally's last wish, signed before a notary, was that the dogs (77 at the time) that survived her would spend the rest of their days on her property enjoying the same luxuries to which they were accustomed. To do this, she appointed a group of executors (several of them her employees) for a maximum period of 20 years from the date of her death.

Virtual image of the future development.
Virtual image of the future development. SUR

The last of her beloved dogs died in 2022, allowing the sale of the estate, a sought-after plot designated for development in one of the best residential areas of Torremolinos.

That is where Malaga developers and builders Guamar come on the scene.

"The owner bequeathed her assets to the executors with the condition that they look after the dogs until they died, although they could not take in new ones," the company's CEO, Antolín Martín, said during a visit to the estate.

The will went to such lengths as to include a mandatory autopsy on the last of the dogs to die. This was a 12-year-old mastiff named Shadow. Once a veterinary surgeon confirmed that death had occurred naturally, the inheritance was released and the executors were able to sell the land. "The death certificate was included in the deed of sale," said Martín.

Although the price of the property has not been made public, it is estimated to have been "millions of euros". In September 2022 Guamar acquired the land and started the plans for the new development.

The residential complex will retain the name of La Pacaraima, and efforts have been made to preserve the vegetation as much as possible, especially the largest of the trees, which are over 80 years old.

An agreement has been signed with Torremolinos town hall to allow the trees that are transplantable to be moved to public parks in the town. Others have been replanted within the plot, in the area where the gardens and communal areas will be located.

The Malaga architect's studio HCP has designed the development's leisure area to be just below the location of the oldest trees "to provide natural shade".

The new luxury development will consist of 37 apartments, and two semi-detached homes in the lower part of the property, with prices ranging from 395,000 (two bedrooms) to one million euros.

The complex will have a children's playground, a sports area, and a swimming pool with a beach entrance.

So far, around 30 per cent of the properties have already been sold: the majority have been purchased by foreigners, mostly Polish (due to the effect of the war in Ukraine, close to their borders), along with Swiss, Dutch, German, Norwegians and Finnish.

The new homes are due to be ready by the beginning of 2026.

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