Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena has said that the Chinese-owned Wanda Group still wants to refurbish the capital’s landmark Edificio España building and that it will continue working with City Hall to come up with a viable solution to doing so without demolishing its protected façade and flanks, as the group had originally wanted.
The announcement, which came following a meeting between the leader of the leftist Ahora Madrid bloc and Wanda’s head in the capital, Michael Qiao, on Tuesday, contradicts recent reports initially published by Cinco Días newspaper saying that Wanda had on Sunday told Carmena that it was pulling out of the project.
The mayor denied that such a weekend meeting had ever taken place.
According to municipal sources, Wanda chiefs have communicated their intention to continue with the project and a “new round of negotiations” has been opened with City Hall technicians to solve the problems.
“Wanda is staying in Madrid,” Mayor Carmena said on Tuesday. “They are delighted to stay and we are delighted that they are staying.”
Wanda bought the 117-meter high, 28-story Edificio España on Madrid’s Plaza de España for €265 million from Santander bank in July 2014 and planned to turn into a shopping mall and luxury hotel.
The Local Historical Heritage Committee, which is controlled by the Madrid regional government and City Hall, had already said in March 2014 that the façade and the side wings of the 1957-built skyscraper could not be removed, but Wanda requested another look at the issue last summer, claiming that the refurbishment work would not be possible without rebuilding them brick-by-brick.
The committee upheld the need to maintain the façade and flanks and rumors began to circulate that Wanda would be pulling out of the project and was putting the building up for sale.
City Hall, which has always said it was unaware of such rumors, agrees that the façade and sides must be maintained and said in January that it was working to “make the operation technically viable, guaranteeing compliance with the law and making it possible for the group to carry out the work it wants.”