Ayuso authorizes a luxury school in a protected building where the Community of Madrid invested three million public euros

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The history of the Homeopathic Institute and Hospital of San José, at number 3 Eloy Gonzalo street, is that of a building born from the popular initiative that has ended up becoming a community heritage of Chamberí. For its historical and architectural value, for a charming interior garden despite the neglect of the administrations, for a modest garden but one that feels like a small lung in the district with the fewest green areas in the city. But this condition does not save you from the threat of speculation. Neither were the works that the Community of Madrid carried out between 2006 and the end of 2009 to restore the property with public money, for an amount close to three million euros. Despite this, the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage of the Community of Madrid has given the go-ahead to a modification of its use that facilitates its sale to private hands, specifically a luxury American school. To this backing from the Executive headed by Isabel Díaz Ayuso must be added that of the Madrid City Council, once it has decided not to exercise its preferential right of first refusal before the offer of rent with the option to buy from a real estate agency to occupy the space. Thus, it seems Its declaration as an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC) with the category of Monument in 1997 was not enough. In fact, the mayor of the capital, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, showed enormous interest in its protection during his time as general director Heritage of the Community of Madrid (around 2010). He went so far as to say that a building like this could not be allowed to be lost, as Diego Cruz, deputy for the PSOE in the Madrid Assembly, recalls. Some statements that occurred just when the rehabilitation work was being carried out in the building financed by the Government, which was then chaired by Esperanza Aguirre. The Hospitalillo de Chamberí, as many residents of the area call it colloquially, was built between 1873 and 1878 thanks to a important popular subscription of the residents of the capital, headed by Dr. José Núñez Pernía, first Marqués de Núñez. A charitable hospital that helped save a large number of patients when, at the end of the 19th century, epidemics of tuberculosis or cholera wreaked havoc among the population of Madrid. Diego Cruz qualifies that, regardless of the opinion that each one may have about homeopathy, the building constitutes a cultural and historical asset in itself. It maintained its activity until the start of the Civil War in 1936 and its definitive closure occurred in 1980. But what will become of this old health center now? The owner, María José Fernández Rodríguez (current Marquesa de Núñez), seems close to achieving what according to Cruz is her goal. It would be a matter of her, she says, of selling the property to the highest bidder: The property has requested a change of use, from private-sanitary to educational. The company to which the rent-to-purchase contract is made has already requested an activity license for a series of important works and interventions. As it is a BIC, the modification of use that Cruz mentions must be authorized by the General Directorate of Cultural Patrimony, previous opinion of the Local Commission of Historical Patrimony. Following this legally established procedure, this commission gave the OK to the change and, based on this technical criterion, educational use has already been authorized, sources from the regional government’s Heritage area confirm to Somos Madrid. They clarify that obviously the new use that is going to be given to the building must be respectful of the values ​​that justified its protection. But the final twist comes when a neighbor contacts Diego Cruz to inform him that, reading a news item on this same matter, coincidentally has come across an advertisement for a private American school called Brewster Academy, which is opening a call for its new headquarters in Madrid next year. The place where he advertises his location is none other than the Homeopathic. Tuition at this educational center is prohibitively expensive, ranging from €38,000 to €66,000, according to its own website. Such is the profile of students that their next planned school in Madrid will be located in La Moraleja, with the aim of starting their classes in autumn 2024. On the institution’s website they already boast of the place that will serve as the campus, in accordance with their commitment to cozy and aesthetically pleasing spaces. They even claim that their intention is to revitalize and transform historic buildings back to their former glory through careful design and collaboration with local architects. Collaterally, they also expose the urban reconfiguration, increasingly removed from neighborhood life, that the district is experiencing: The campus is located in Chamberí, in the heart of downtown Madrid and close to world-renowned universities.The property of the Hospitalillo was originally registered under the title of the San José Homeopathic Institute and Hospital Foundation, subject to a right of reversion reserved for José Núñez and for the successors of his title of Marqués de Núñez. Possibility that would be exercised if due to force majeure or any other circumstance the institution ceased to be used for eminently sanitary purposes. More than a century later, the Madrid town hall headed by José María Álvarez del Manzano at the time requested emergency conservation works on the property in the event of pathologies that could cause the collapse of the structure, which the Community of Madrid carried out with an amount of 404,644 euros between 1999 and 2000. It was the first time that a significant amount of public money was invested in the site, but not the last nor the greatest. And of course not the most controversial either. The regional government of Esperanza Aguirre, through the General Directorate of Historical Heritage, carried out between 2006 and the end of 2009 comprehensive rehabilitation and restoration works of the building for a total amount close to three millions of euros. To locate, it is an amount greater than the one that is going to be allocated for the restoration of the Puerta de Alcalá. Some improvements financed with the participation of the Fundación Cultural de Caja de Madrid, at that time managed by the Community of Madrid through an agreement. In 2010 Aguirre, Ignacio González and Almeida himself inaugurated the renovated building. There is, however, a substantial difference between the first and this other intervention, beyond the amount allocated. The property on which action was being taken became a disputed property on June 11, 2001, long before these second works began, as a result of a ruling by the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid (TSJM). Said judicial decision compromised its future if it acquired firmness in the hands of the reversionists: It went from being a building in ruins of a non-profit Foundation to a revalued real estate product in private hands and for private use, explains Diego Cruz. The ownership of the marquisate , which entails that of the Homeopathic, as Cruz points out, was definitively left in the hands of María José Fernández Rodríguez in 2017, after a long battle in offices and courts. A woman who from the first moment does not hide her intention to sell this property. So they got to work to guarantee the defense of the Hospital as much as possible: We asked the regional government to register their status as BIC to corroborate their protection, in addition to recording that amount invested by the Community in the rehabilitation of the site. They managed to get both points approved in the Madrid Assembly, although for now the Ayuso Executive has only complied with the first of them. Their surprise came when the socialist team verified that the Marquesa has tried to register a rental contract with option to purchase the property signed with an individual, a company recently incorporated last year. However, as it is a BIC, Fernández Rodríguez must first offer the right of first refusal to public administrations. But the consistory communicated with absolute speed that it is not going to exercise that power. The spokesperson for the PSOE in the Madrid City Council, Mar Espinar, reproached the Almeida government for this decision on December 13 in the last municipal Commission of the Culture Area , Tourism and Sport. Luis Lafuente, General Director of Cultural Heritage of the local Executive, was concerned about the expense that the acquisition of the old Homeopathic would entail. end up in private hands. This team is not responsible for what the Community of Madrid did 12 years ago, he assured, despite the fact that said decision was made by the current mayor when he held a position similar to the one that Lafuente occupies today, only in the regional administration instead of the municipal one. The person in charge of Patrimony justified this decision on the grounds that it is not necessary to establish any municipal public service there. Lafuente considers that it would have been a possible abuse to be able to use that power granted by the BIC statement without being clear about the use that would be given to it. But this opinion clashes diametrically with that of many residents of the area. This is the case of Mercedes Arce Chiqui, from the Parque Sí Platform in Chamberí. There is a tremendous lack of endowments here. One of the proposals we put forward is that a music or dance school be set up in the building. I have just been with a friend who has to take her granddaughter, who does dance, to the other side of the river.Many older people also ask for a residence that is closer to them, he exposes in statements to Somos Madrid. This activist neighbor from Chamberí also claims the role that the Hospital has within the landscape of the neighborhood: It is a building with a lot of charm. The loss would be enormous on many levels: visual, green areas, neighborhood and as possible equipment. But the fate of the Homeopathic has been linked for years not to these endowment needs, but to the interests of María José Fernández Rodríguez. Here comes into play the most soap opera element of this story. She is the great-niece of José Guillermo Fano García, whom José Núñez y Pernía (who supposedly died without issue) named second Marqués de Núñez although he was only her godson (again supposedly). However, as reported in two articles by El País and El Periódico de España, Núñez and Pernía would have had four unrecognized children and José Guillermo would be the eldest of them. The blood ties of this doctor by profession, who died without children (this time it seems to be real), mark the dispute that now puts the Hospitalillo de Chamberí in check. The offspring of two of his sisters, Carmen and Josefa, got involved in a legal confrontation that their grandchildren later continued. By line of succession, the title should have corresponded to Guillermo García Alix, the eldest of Carmen’s descendants, but it is Jaime Fernández Fano who obtains the appointment thanks to the intervention of the Duke of Tovar. The conflict ended up reaching the sons of Carlos Román García Alix (Guillermo’s brother) and the daughter of Fernández Fano, the aforementioned María José Fernández Rodríguez. Now her interests can cause the building that a Marquis contributed to bring the neighborhood closer to everyone who needed it, move away from the community to fall into the hands of the contemporary elite.

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