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“Cinelandia Building unique in Kingdom”
Foundation “Pro Monumento” (ProMo) (for Historic Buildings) emphasizes that the monumental building in art deco style is not only unique in Curaçao because of its modern architectural style, but in the entire Kingdom. “Even the Netherlands does not have a building that would be slightly similar”, according to ProMo’s lawyer.
The legal proceedings already pending for two years concerning the question whether or not Cinelandia should remain in the monuments and historic buildings register was brought before the judge again last Tuesday. The decision is expected in six weeks.
The dispute arose after owner Fernando Da Costa Gomez requested the former Executive Council (EC) to take the building off the register and received cooperation. ProMo, afraid that the monumental building would be demolished, then instituted legal proceedings against the EC to reverse the decision. For the time being, the building is temporarily in the monuments and historic buildings register at the judge’s request. Three interested parties are involved in the case: the government, ProMo and the owner of the building, CMOG Handelsmaatschappij.
During the session, all parties extensively addressed the Court. Because the legal proceedings weer initially instituted against the EC, the judge asked who in the government was represented. The answer was that one acted on behalf of the government without specific explanation on behalf of which minister. ProMo has pro bono legal assistance of the law firm VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne. Two lawyers are handling the case: Laura Fresco and Dorien Knegt. Fresco states that ProMo proved again that the EC did not have a reason to take the building off the register and that the decision to do so was not adequately substantiated. For instance, there would never have been an opportunity to inspect the advice to the government that led to this decision.
“During the legal proceedings, two reports were discussed and included in the file. The first report is the owner’s, stating that the building cannot be repaired. The second is a report of Docomomo that has actually been disregarded for a long time. This appeared at any rate during the session. Parties indicated that they did not know the content of this report,” according to the lawyer.
During the session, the report in question was considered as yet. The Report of Docomomo investigates the restoration possibilities and the costs involved. According to this report, restoration of the façade is possible, provided that there will be a construction in time to support the façade temporarily. The restoration costs, including supporting construction, were estimated at 450,000 guilders. Because the technical quality is not 100 percent certain in case of restoration, rebuilding the façade in the original form as part of the new construction was also considered to be an alternative. The costs of new construction would be 598,000 guilders. The government insisted that the building cannot be repaired anymore, and that safety considerations played a major part. The owner of the building also states that the building cannot be restored anymore.
Finally, the judge inspected the site, while all parties got the chance to explain their case again. Fresco observes: “What struck me was that previously the owner’s position that restoration would not be possible was clear, but on site he admitted that things could be done, but that it would be an investment of many millions. Of course this is a very different approach. During these legal proceedings the financial aspect is not the issue, but the question whether the building should remain in the monuments and historic buildings register and whether it can be preserved,” according to the lawyer.
Source: local newspaper “Amigoe” dated 7 December 2010