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The city of Madrid acquires the historic Beti Jai (1893) Fronton, in a sorry state for 7 million euros


The Beti Jai Fronton in Madrid in its glory days
The Beti Jai Fronton in Madrid in its glory days


After years of citizens defending the rescue and rehabilitation of this historic fronton located in the heart of Madrid, steps away from the Paseo de la Castellana, the city of Madrid has finally become the owner of the property after a process of expropriation and payment of 7 million euros, compared to the twelve requested by its current owners.  We are translating the article published yesterday in Madrid’s ABC newspaper. 

Tatiana G. Rivas/Miguel Oliver, Madrid, Spain.  The number war for the Beti Jai Fronton between the local government and the latest owners of this Asset of Cultural Interest (Bien de Interés Cultural (BIC)), the company Tarcosul Gestion S.L. was won by the town hall.  Ana Botella’s town council has become the sole owner of the only sports building from the 19th century that remains in for nearly 7 million Euros.  On March 2nd the Superior Court in Madrid (TSJM) delivered the sentence on the process of expropriation of this architectural jewel located in the Chamberi District at 7 Marques de Riscal.  The town council estimated the value of the complex at 6 million Euros, while its current owners asked for twice that amount,, or 12 Euros, even  arriving at a request for 30 million – the construction of the fronton in 1894 by Basque businessman Jose Arana cost 500,000 pesetas.

Video of the unfortunate state that the fronton is in today (by Igor Gonzalez)

Amount paid

The record of expropriation was initiated on February 2, 2010 at the request of its owners.  The regional court determined its value at 7,331,755.15 Euros on April 26, 2011.  This amount was appealed by the City Council and by the property owners alike.  The Superior Court of Madrid overrides the regional court’s decision and lowered the build ability and exploitation of 1,114 to 1.04.  The value of the property therefore, stands at 6,347,817.66 Euros.  The sentence is not yet firm, since its appeal is now before the Supreme Court.  The local government has already paid for it.

On April 10 the deed of ownership passed to the town hall of Madrid, who paid the corresponding sum, 5,602,116.22 Euros plus 21% of the income value tax but not the final value of the property. The payment made by the Director of Urban Management and by the representative of Tarcosul took place at the headquarters of the Municipal Board of the District of Chamberi.

It will be the next government that will have the capital to decide what the Beti Jai will be used for and to undertake the major restoration work on this building that has been damaged by the passage of time and being abandoned by its owner.  The building declared a BIC in the monument category on February 2, 2011, is rated in Madrid’s General Urban Plan as a unique sporting provision.  Its neighbors have petitioned several times that it be restored to its original use for sports.

4,000 Spectators

The building is unique in Europe because of its architecture that includes an empty space or court  that is 67 meters long and 20 meters wide.  It has a large elliptical gallery whose architecture, like Las Ventas is made of iron.  The west side is closed by a curved brick wall in the neo-Mudejar style, and it has a capacity of 4,000 spectators.  It stands on a plat that is 3,600 square meters and has a land area of 10,800 meters.

The community of Madrid, after granting it BIC protection, has not ruled out giving it other uses; provided that respect for the fundamental values that define the building and its inclusion be compatible with the rules.  At the beginning of the 21st century, the Nuevo Beti Jai S.L. (The New Beti Jai) corporation, owner of the site, tried to convert it into a hotel and gym, but they couldn’t carry it out.  Now the real countdown to its resurrection begins.  

(original article published 4/29/15 in ABC)

-Articles on the Save Beti Jai campaign 
-Campaign blog

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