The Alicante Port Authority has made formal the transfer of the management of the lighthouse complex on Cap de Sant Antoni to the town council in Xàbia.
Mayor José Chulvi has signed an agreement with the president of the port management agency that officially grants a concession of 15 years to the local authority which will allow the complex, which totals some 3,300 square metres, to be converted into the visitor centre for the Marina Reserve and the Montgó Natural Park. The concession can be extended by another five years if needed.
The handing over the keys for the complex means that the council will take on the management responsibility of the building which already has a preliminary renovation project in place that will allow it to be opened to the public and create a benchmark for the diffusion of information about the wealth of the natural and marine environment in which it is located.
The new visitor centre will be created using the existing buildings that were previously used by the lighthouse keeper as a home as well as a workshop/warehouse facility, the latter of which will be converted into a cafeteria and public bathrooms.
The actual lighthouse tower is not included in the concession and will continue to provide its navigation support functions as before.
Mayor José Chulvi expressed his thanks to the Alicante Port Authority for all the assistance in helping with the administrative procedures which began two years ago when the local authority first requested that the complex be used as a public space.
The end of six years of uncertainty
The complex first hit the headlines in 2014 when it was reported that the Port Authority had selected the San Antonio lighthouse for conversion and had already received three development proposals, two for the creation of a luxury hotel complex and a third for an environmental visitor centre.
The local council rejected the proposals for a hotel, adding that regional development regulations prohibited the contruction of new buildings on non-urban development land after discovering that one of the proposals planned to add an upper floor to the complex.
An online petition attracted almost 15,000 signatures against the hotel proposals whilst a demonstration in June 2015 saw several hundred people march along the headland to protest. The port authority got the message and in February 2016, it met with the local council to discuss the proposal for a visitor centre open to the public.
In April 2018, the mayor met with the port authority to start the legal process of the transfer of management to the local council and in January 2019 the process was far enough along the road to reality that draft plans were commissioned for the visitor centre project.
The preliminary details were presented in November 2019, designed by local architect Ulrike Wehr who proposed to turn the historic building (into a visitor centre for learning, scientific study and enjoyment of the environment.
SOURCE: Press Office – Ayuntamiento de Xàbia