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Bricks and mortar for posterity

On Thursday one little machine could be seen slowly working away at a building in Marbella. Little by little it knocked away the bricks, cement and plaster, gradually turning 34 homes into a pile of rubble. Thirty-four homes that were never lived in, thresholds that no one was ever carried over, walls that never heard babies cry or lovers fight or elderly bones creak. In fact, 34 homes that should never have been there in the first place.

Demolition has started on the Golf Río Real development, which has received more publicity since it appeared at the top of the illegal construction black list than its promoters could ever have dreamed of when they drew up the plans. We ought to make the most of the scene because it is unlikely to be repeated very often – it looks like this is one of just two illegal developments built during the GIL regime that will end up being flattened. The rest promise to remain standing as resilient symbols of 15 years of abuse by local governments that made up the rules as they went along and, in the main, got away with it.

From the tower blocks of Marbella we move across to the Axarquía, worlds apart but with so much in common. There the changes of the last 15 years have been more discreet; a new white dot appeared on the landscape every so often but the horizon was never blotted out by a continuous line of cranes. However in both Marbella and Alcaucín (and clearly in more Town Halls that inevitably will come to light with time) someone was sitting in an office signing pieces of paper that should never have been signed, in exchange (allegedly, as always) for brown envelopes passed under the table.

Last night I saw on the news that there has been a huge auction to sell off construction machinery – cranes, concrete mixers, diggers, lorries, etc. – in Castellón. The images showed row upon row of machines that just a few years ago would have been working away on building sites all over Spain and have now been left redundant. Many of them were expected to be bought by foreigners and shipped off to new climes, leaving behind them the bricks they have helped to lay as a sign of more prosperous, but somewhat unlawful, times.

24 Responses to “Bricks and mortar for posterity”

  1. Try as i might I scour the property for sale section in Sur In English classifieds and I see little or no evidence of falling property prices , in fact to an english buyer with poor exchange rates prices have actually risen substantially

  2. Here in the Murcia region,as with most other areas of Spain the economy has slowed,and when you talk to Spanish people they all cry “crisis,crisis.
    My spanish girlfriend and I are currently house hunting .We have been shown houses and flats in various states,and I can honestly say some which should have been demolished a long time ago as they are now such bad condition that they are literaly dangerous.However these “desireable residencies” are on the market for crazy prices,and we have even been laughed at when we made “reasonable offers”.Some in fact over the past six months have actually risen substantialy in price.
    I have explained to the Spanish “estate agents” ( I have put that title in inverted commas because most of them couldn´t sell suncream in July) about the tried and tested method of selling during a “crisis”by reducing prices,but they are all only interested in their commission which they will “earn”(more inverted commas because I don´t consider making a couple of phone calls and not opening on Saturdays ,work.) in the unlikely event of a successful sale.
    end of rant!!

  3. The crisis deepens, thousands of unsold properties, dithering politicians, innocent buyers of “illegal properties” who paid the money, paid the IVA. paid the stamp duty, viewed their building license, obtained their first license of occupation, then found out that they were illegal after years of passed – years during which they paid their IBI, Basura, property taxes etc. Now the exodus begins – people fed up with all the corruption & abuse of citizens – also fed up with Inheritance Tax Laws that do not deserve a place in a civilised society – this when Portugal, Italy France etc.etc. have done away with this immoral tax.
    There just seems to be no future for the building industry nor for the economy of this beautiful country. We are leaving, we love this country – we just can’t afford to live here any more.
    Alan Gardiner

  4. We must agree with te aparent fact that although there is a crisis with a reported 80 000 dwellings standing empty inAndalucia, te prices do notreflect thsi. In fact we know of some hwo have gone into personal iquidaton rather than sell a second home at a crisis price. Estate agencies have old pictures with old prices (over-priced) of properties in their windows and to ask for a list of so called distressed sales earns us a blank look from the agent. I agree that the estate agents who have not yet moved on to a “new career” have really been working for the commission only in te past taliking up prices to ridiculous levels athat fools have paid as they know no better, and now they think those days are just around the corner again. Normal business will ake at least three years to return with hopefully a saner buying public, for those who were seduced into paying the inflated prices, taking on high mortgages offered by te greedy banks, have also been responsible in part for the current debt crisis, not just in Spain but everywhere.

  5. IT SADDENS ME TO SAY, POOR OLD SPAIN, AND YES THE ESTATE AGENTS AND CAFES AND BARS STILL ARE KEEPING THE PRICES UP TO MAKE A FAST BUCK, WILL THEY EVER WAKE UP TO CUTTING THE PRICES AND NOT BE GREEDY,; OR STUPID, IF NOT NO ONE WILL GO TO SPAIN.

  6. We have left and the only two things we miss are the weather and our friends.
    Food is better and cheaper in the UK: customer service is normal, not abnormal, there is more competition for one’s business, utilities are more reliable, telephone and internet are cheaper, the NHS is good where we live and we are no longer at the mercy of exchange rate fluctuations.
    The euro is doomed (I hope), abandon ship while you can.

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