Legalized extortion? (Sagrada Familia edition)

Check out this report by India Block titled “Sagrada Familia agrees [to] €36 million payment after building 136 years with no permit.” In summary, the famous Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, which has been under construction since 1882 (!), never received a building permit from the city. The historic cathedral (pictured below), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was designed by the renowned architect Antoni Gaudí and is still under construction. According to Ms Block’s report, the trustees of the Sagrada Familia have now agreed to pay €36 million (£31 million) in installments to the city. “In return for the money, the [city] will officially regularise the work and the basilica will be able to formalise its permit to complete the design …”

So, what would have happened if the trustees had refused to pay for the building permit? Would the city have halted construction on the 136-year project? (The cathedral is still under construction and is not scheduled to be completed until the year 2026.) Next time, maybe the trustees should request a variance!

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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4 Responses to Legalized extortion? (Sagrada Familia edition)

  1. Kathy H says:

    Truth is stranger than fiction! Why would the church pay anything?? Why is it taking so long to complete?? Did they need a permit in 1882?? This looks like corruption at its highest levels.

    • Excellent point. I bet that that the permitting process (assuming there was one) was far less complicated back in 1882! Though in fairness to the city, maybe the original blueprints for the basilica were more modest than the actual monstrosity of cathedral that is currently under construction. In any case, I wonder what the “back story” behind this extraordinary payment is.

  2. Erle Robinson says:

    I remember this was featured on 60 Minutes some years ago. Very interesting and unique architecture. Does sound like extortion!

    • Yes, I remember that segment. I have seen the basilica in person on two occasions, and I wish they had just left the building as it was when Gaudí died in 1926. The current version is a complete monstrosity!

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