Barcelona’s iconic Tres Chimeneas probing the UN and WHO to be their headquarters in southern Europe

The old thermal power station wants to attract world institutions and continental funds to revive, while ERC and the 'commons' question the benefits for Endesa and Santander due to the Government's plan to build 1,844 flats in the area

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The investment of the EU to go back after the Covid is also longed for to unravel one of the main urban projects in the making in Catalonia: the remodeling of the inoperative power station of the Three Chimneys, between Sant Adrià de Besòs and Badalona, ​​which aspires to host a headquarters of international relevance to the north of Barcelona, ​​which will house organizations promoting peace, the energy transition and the fight against climate change. Catalan institutions want to raise about 80 million euros of the 140,000 million euros from the recovery fund that correspond to Spain and redo the installation so that it attracts activity associated with innovation and new technologies. In the effort they try to involve United Nations and the World Health Organization. They are even being groped for settling in the 200-meter high towers and adopting them as the headquarters of southern Europe.

“We are in bilateral negotiations with the UN, the WHO, the Union for the Mediterranean and other entities,” he lists Mari Rubiralta, former Secretary of State for Universities with Josà © Luis RodrÃguez Zapatero and director of the international group of experts set up to reconvert the factory and the attached turbine room. The panel recommends reinventing them in a hub anchored to knowledge and human rights, which brings together agencies and professionals from all over the planet.

The idea attracts consensus, an exception in a reform not without controversy. It is originated by the 1,844 floors that are conceived between the plant and the Besòs river and the income that the operation that the Generalitat promotes is intuited for Endesa Y Metrovacesa (the Santander is its majority shareholder), owners of 146,000 square meters facing the sea.

The Territory Department -directed by JxCat- wants to endorse the urban plan in May. You must first review the allegations presented to modify it. The debate is sparked by the possible pitch on the last coastal strip to be built next to Barcelona. “We do not need a dormitory neighborhood, but spaces for economic activity that offer job opportunities to the people of the territory,” he opposes Roger Hoyos, from Platform for the Conservation of the Three Chimneys, who sees “solid foundations to declare null and void” the Government’s plan.

ERC and the ‘commons’, among others, ask for studies to clarify whether the requalification would bring 100 million euros to Endesa and Metrovacesa. It also discusses the protection of industrial heritage, the plots contaminated by their industrial past, the risk of flooding and sea level rise in the next century or how much of the 82.5 million euros is claimed to open streets and extend a nine-hectare park to the owners.

Rubiralta begs that the differences do not stop the restoration of the factory. “If it is not approved quickly, European funding will be in jeopardy and a flagship project for recovery with a knowledge region and the potential to create an industrial district will be delayed,” he says, and proposes that all parties accept “some assignments and incorporate allegations”. The group of experts has also argued not to leave a gap within the headquarters for a hotel and businesses that are inconsistent with the institutional status that is being pursued.

“If we know how to sell it, it may end by 2026 or 2027”, predicts Rubiralta, who predicts that “there will be no steps” from multilateral organizations to settle “until the project is approved”, although the University for Peace of the UN has declared interest: “It is clear that Barcelona has capitability in the Mediterranean. We have to have 10 like this for a flagship role. These large projects cannot wait five years. If we had the space today, we would fill it. ”

New economy

In parallel, it is intended that the industry of emerging sectors is established in the adjacent polygons. “There was a company of New Space, from the aerospace sector, which wanted 3,000 square meters, and another of the internet’s greats was also interested. They did not work because things were not ready, “laments the president of the Chamber of Commerce in Badalona, ​​Pere Alemany. Yes, a fiber optic submarine cable port is being set up in the vicinity of the towers.

The Three Chimneys continue to belong to Endesa. The Generalitat expects the administration to keep it free of charge to the owners giving up 10% of the land in exchange for being allowed to build. According to sources consulted, the company that unites Endesa and Metrovacesa, Besòs Maritime Front, has made allegations, in which it maintains that the conditions of the Government compromise the viability to build. He argues that the percentage of protected housing rises to 40% and believes that it is overvalued that the Government calculates 204 million euros in income for the owners of the lots.

The company emphasizes that in other reforms in Barcelona, ​​82% of the construction was approved to be homes, while 65% is authorized together with the old thermal, and estimates that it is required to pay 280 euros per square meter to condition the environment, for 85 euros on average in other built sectors. Faced with the distrust of neighborhood groups, the institutions insist that it is essential to attract the owners with benefits so that they contribute to the costly transformation of the place.

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