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Transformation of the Taoro building but how long will Puerto wait? 

A few months ago when referring to the Taoro building I used the term ‘watch this space’, a bad choice of phrase, as I now realise, as it implied that something was about to happen, as in imminent, again not a word one would normally associate with Tenerife. At the time the rumour mongering was that perhaps an interested party had come forward prepared to take the building on. Not so, it now seems, in light of the recent Cabildo announcement that the leasehold for this iconic building is one again being put out to tender.

This tender, which must be the third such process in recent years, was officially launched in a recent press conference with all the usual fanfare. It was billed as a great opportunity for the town of Puerto de la Cruz, but why, if there were no takers before are they so confident of success at this venture. Perhaps there is someone waiting in the wings after all and they are going through the formalities or perhaps, having tweaked the package on offer, they are convinced it is more attractive, only time will tell.

What are these new tweaks? There is nothing new, or at least, nothing which had not already been previously announced. An additional parcel of land has been added to the site. The use of the building as a hotel remains the desired option, but alternative uses will be considered. Generous tax concessions are now part of the package. So nothing new announced in the official launch, apart from that it goes into more detail, far too much, as usual. The lease will be for 40 years, an initial rent was suggested, and the leaseholder would be responsible for repairs including the initial investment needed to restore the building, which at present day estimates would be not far short of 20 euros million. However, a proportion of this cost would be reimbursed annually by way of a tax concession which I can only think to be a reduction in IBI (property tax).

Now what do you think about a change of use. I think shortly after it was first suggested was when the rumours of a possible tenant started to circulate. Surely though it has to stay as a hotel, doesn’t it?  Spain’s first grand hotel, in its first tourist resort must count for something. I think most local people would expect it to reopen as a hotel. I assume that must still remain the preferred option as so much of the launch presentation was concentrated on it. Going into detail of how many beds it would accommodate. Stating that upon its reopening it would be the third luxury hotel of its kind in Puerto de la Cruz alongside, that is, the hotels Botanico and Chiripa. Of course, the Chiripa is still closed following the announcement in 2015 that it was to reopen as a 5 star hotel. Not a great comparison to make, let’s hope it is not an ill omen for the Taoro, yet it does beg to question if Puerto has sufficient appeal for that level of clientele.

Still it is all speculation at the moment, so we’ll just have to wait and see. One thing is certain though with the reams of red tape that will need to be generated, nothing will happen soon, besides which, the local elections are not until 2019.

Reports that there is money in Cabildo’s budget (next year’s budget that is, 2018) for a major rethink of the TF312, the road that winds itself into Puerto from Botanico and then winds its way back out again through Las Arenas and forms two of the major routes into town. There are promises of improvements along its length which will be completed in four phases, but let’s not get too excited, first we’ll see if it does indeed start next year and then see how long the money lasts.

One of the proposed changes is to create a roundabout at the Belair junction and not before time, if, and I assume it will or else why bother building it, it means that traffic will be able to enter the town centre there as well as exit, legally I mean, as I have seen many a hire car come down the road and turn right before realising the error of their ways. A good blast on the horn normally wakes them up, either that or the realisation that the three lanes in front of them all have cars coming towards them. Surely their sat nav doesn’t tell them to do it, does it? So I do hope that if and when this roundabout is construc-ted they will issue clear instructions to the good citizens of Puerto on how to navigate themselves around it.

Another junction earmar-ked for improvements is the one next to the high school, the one  known locally as ‘the octopus’, where cracks have started to appear in the fabric of the bridges, although of course, they stress the bridges remain structurally sound, at least, at present.

Normally I take news of these projects with a pinch of salt; however, on this occasion there may be some truth to it, as recently, over the course of a couple of months I kept spotting a man and his theodolite at different places along the road carrying out a survey.

Now let’s talk about the bus station, that’s always worth a giggle. I have to say I have now adopted a pragmatic approach to the whole project. I assume it will get built , one day, but as for it being essential for the expansion of tourism in Puerto, is it really that important? The town has managed well without it, the buses still run; there is a ticket office and bars to offer refreshment. Ok, the present set up may cause some congestion, but then the improvements to the TF312 I’ve just mentioned may help to ease it and the odds are they will be completed first.

The trouble with the bus station is that we have been spun so many yarns no one believes anything that is said anymore. We were told in 2015 that paperwork had been incorrectly submitted, a quick fix, a trip to Madrid, all expen-ses paid, I assume, and everything was hunky dory, bring on the excavators. Then a period of eerie silence when no one was saying anything and nothing was happening, but don’t worry building will start before the end of the year. Following that a land transfer from the dim and distance past that had not been completed correctly, not our fault, a chance to shift the blame onto a previous administration. So a parcel of land, part of the proposed site still belonged to a government department in Madrid, a long defunct department, a problema no one seemed to take ownership of, a problem no one wanted to resolve. However, here I can cut them some slack, Madrid was in turmoil, a year effectively without a government, or should that be without an effective one.

Now to bring the project up to date, the local opposition party are claiming the project is stalled because no one knows who actually owns the plot, so how is the transfer of ownership ever going to be completed. Who and which version are we to believe? A good rule of thumb to adopt is to believe no one, to expect nothing and then be mildly surprised when things start to happen. One other suggestion to come forward was to stop pussy footing over ownership of a bit of waste ground, to knock the existing bus station down  and build the new one on the same site, where surely ownership is not in dispute. Now that’s not such a silly idea, but I’m sure there are already elaborate and ambitious plans in the project pipeline for that site.