In Spain’s Benidorm town, a 590-ft giant waits to welcome 1,000 residents

Stretching into blue skies far above other towers crowding the Spanish resort of Benidorm, the Intempo skyscraper stands as a hard-to-miss beacon of excess from the days of Spain’s property bubble. Floor numbers flash by on a blue screen as a new elevator soars up this 180 metre (590 ft) giant on the skyline of the mass tourism resort on eastern Spain’s Mediterranean coast.

At the foot of the 54-floor building — touted as the highest residential skyscraper in Europe — a semi-Olympic swimming pool waits to be tiled before welcoming the 1,000 residents who developers hope to lure to its apartments.

The building’s twin towers are covered in copper-coloured windows and joined at their summit by a vast inverted pyramid, its concrete facade still open to the elements. Soon, the concrete floors and bare wires will be transformed into two 300 sq m luxury duplex penthouse apartments, their glass walls overlooking several kilometres of beach on one side and hinterland on the other.

“You see, there is no reason for controversy: there are 11 elevators,” said Guillermo Campos, technical architect of the building’s property developer Olga Urbana, who is determined to rebuff newspaper articles saying the builders forgot one elevator shaft.

Campos rejected concerns by Greenpeace Spain and others about the environmental impact of concentrating so many people in a single building. “Look at that clean water,” he said, pointing to a beach from the giddy heights of the Intempo. Far below, Spanish, British, French and German tourists walked along the beach’s new promenade.

Some 35 per cent of the building’s apartments have been sold, Campos said, a relatively small proportion with so little time before its scheduled delivery in early 2014.

Hoping for a property market recovery from mid-2014, Campos said he was counting on interest from Russian, Algerian and British buyers despite prices that appear lofty: from 350,000 euros ($473,000) for a studio to three million euros for a duplex.

A fishing village five decades ago, Benidorm today is a mass of skyscrapers, fast-food outlets, bars and nightclubs where tourists, mostly northern Europeans, come on cheap package holidays. For the property market in Spain’s eastern Valencia region, “Benidorm is the jewel in the crown”.

— AFP

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