Benidorm

Benidorm bus station revamp

Eyesore, white elephant and disgrace are some of the adjectives used to describe Benidorm’s transit hub, which welcomes thousands of bus travellers to the ‘jewel’ of the Costa Blanca each year.

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The huge, shiny, metal exterior of the Benidorm bus station and its overhead shopping complex La Estacion, hides a filthy interior of empty retail units, dusty walkways, litter strewn public areas and broken elevators, which has become an embarrassment to city tourism bosses eager to encourage holidaymakers to leave their cars at home.

However, in an announcement made earlier this week, an agreement has been reached between Benidorm Town Hall and concessionaire, Alicante businessman Enrique Ortiz, which will see the building and its surrounding areas restored to perfect condition, before being released for tender.

A long running dispute between the two parties, has rumbled along, since the controversial Ortiz, was handed the concession to run the bus station and shopping centre in 2003.

In fact, the plan to move the bus transport hub from within the town of Benidorm, to its current site on the edge of the resort, was shrouded in controversy from the outset, with accusations of corruption and cronyism thrown at the decision-makers.

Detractors to the project were unhappy that visitors arriving at the terminal, including those in transit from Alicante Airport, were faced with a long trek into the main accommodation zones of Benidorm, which involves crossing busy thoroughfares in unfamiliar surroundings.

They also questioned the need for another shopping centre outside of the resort, with the La Marina Complex in Finestrat so close and these doubts were reinforced when the most of the businesses that took occupancy of the retail units closed quickly through lack of footfall.

At present, only three remain in occupancy, one of which is a large supermarket with its own designated parking.

In addition, an adjoining hotel, named L’Estacion, which forms part of the complex, has continued to trade during the ongoing dispute.

The original licence handed to Ortiz, also gave permission to extend the shopping area, but a court denied permission for this and despite three successive Benidorm administrations attempting to reach an agreement with the businessman, none was forthcoming, eventually leading to a supreme court ruling in 2012, cancelling the Ortiz concession.

Until now, the concessionaire refused to co-operate and blatantly allowed the complex to fall into disrepair, leading to its current dilapidated and embarrassing state.

This week, the two parties reached a settlement, whereby the Benidorm administration have agreed to pay Ortiz 24.5€ million for works he maintains were undertaken, for which he claims were never paid for.

In return, the businessman has agreed to restore the bus station to ‘perfect condition’, at a cost of 287,141€, on a schedule of completion in 6 to 9 months.

Benidorm Town council insist, that the money paid out to Ortiz will not come from public coffers, but will be part of the terms and conditions for the new concessionaire, once the project has been released for tender.

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