the tangle of private interests can drag out the case for years

Since Vicente Aleixandre’s death in 1984, Velintonia, the house where he lived and the meeting place of the Generation of ’27 and successive generations of Spanish poets, has been one of the pending issues of public administrations: this emblematic site of literature fell into oblivion and ruin, and today it is an uninhabitable house, according to technical reports. In December 2021, the Community of Madrid began the procedure to declare the home of the Nobel Prize Property of Patrimonial Interest (BIP), and thus provide it with official protection for the first time, after several failed attempts. But what hasn’t been fixed in three decades doesn’t seem like it can be fixed in six months. The

reason? The allegations of the interested parties against this procedure.

In this case there are three main parties with the right to reply. The Association of Friends of Aleixandre, directed by Alejandro Sanz, is one of them, and has already presented its claims. They reject the BIP declaration because they consider it insufficient. This figure, they explain in their writing, “would allow altering, modifying or destroying, even partially, the interior of the property, and also give a use to the mythical property contrary to the one claimed by its own history and nature.” His intention is to turn it into a house of poetry. In his opinion, “you cannot distort what [Velintonia] symbolizes, nor deny its fair and necessary public cultural utility with a protection that is obviously insufficient and dangerously concessive». Granting the second level of heritage protection (BIP) instead of the first (BIC) “is allowing its destruction.”

The four heirs of the Merlo branch, holders of forty percent of Velintonia, have also confirmed their rejection of this measure, and will present their arguments in the coming days. They deny that the house itself has any cultural value, since neither the poet’s archive nor his library are located there. Also the current director of Cultural Heritage of the region, Elena Hernando, pointed out this fact on November 17, 2020 and stated in the Madrid Assembly that Velintonia had a “little architectural value” and that for this reason it could not, with the legal framework in force then (which is the same as today), protect it as BIP or BIC, a position they reached after ten years of “intense” work by technicians. Marta Rivera de la Cruz, Minister of Culture, declared on Sunday that her department has limited itself to “expediting” the request that the Executive made in June.

Public auction

The Merlo-Useras also emphasize that the house already has urban protection as it belongs to one of the historic neighborhoods of Madrid (the Colonia Parque Metropolitano), which prevents modifying the facade of the building, although there is total freedom to intervene inside . Finally, they recall that last April a judge ordered the public sale of Velintonia in a judicial auction, which will be carried out when some bureaucratic procedures are completed. Both they and the Friends of Aleixandre promise to take their claims to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

Amaya Aleixandre, owner of the other sixty percent of the chalet, has not wanted to reveal whether or not she will present allegations against Velintonia’s BIP file, but stresses that what she considers important “is that the administrations seriously and reasonably address the purchase of the property, counting for it, as is logical, with the owners. Any protection that they want to grant to this house should be after its purchase by the administrations ». The Ministry of Culture offered 1.8 million for the chalet in 2007, but the family asked for about six. It is now on sale at Idealista for 4.7.

Judicial process

At the moment, therefore, two of the three parties involved have already shown their rejection of the BIP declaration. Now the General Directorate of Heritage will have to review their allegations and decide whether or not to take them into consideration, for which they have a period of six months from December. In the event that it rejects them, those involved may resort to legal proceedings, so this could take years to resolve. There we have the precedent of the Albéniz Theater, which points in that direction. Then it was the Albéniz Help Platform who, faced with the refusal of the Community of Madrid to declare it BIC, resorted to administrative channels. He first filed an appeal, in 2007, and then went to the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid, which in June 2011 forced the community to initiate the file. The Supreme, a year later, ratified that the theater should be declared BIC in the category of monument. The entire judicial process lasted five years.

Regional government sources avoided advancing what their position will be when they receive the allegations of the interested parties in the file related to the Velintonia house. They insisted that it is an issue that corresponds to the technicians and that they will be the ones who, based on the allegations and reports, must make a decision. January 21 will be the deadline for the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando and the Royal Academy of History to issue their mandatory reports. The heirs, who were notified at the end of December and the beginning of January, have a few more days of margin.

On other occasions, when there have been allegations, meetings have been held between those affected to reach an agreement, but here those involved defend opposing positions, as they have stated more than once. Everything seems to indicate that the mess will be resolved in court. An internal document from the previous Heritage team already warned of the complexity of this case: «If [el expediente BIC, que era lo que se valoraba en 2017], those affected who consider themselves aggrieved in their rights by the declaration would argue that it cannot be declared since the current law does not include this figure for this type of property. And it would be appealed, not being able to be finally declared.

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