Is Havana’s Someillan Building on the US Purchase List?

By Raul Enrique Medina Orama  (OnCuba)

The Someillan builidng in red and white.
The Someillan builidng in red and white.

HAVANA TIMES — After a two-year refurbishing process under Cuba’s Palco real estate agency, everything indicates the Someillan building located at the intersection of Linea and O streets, facing Havana’s Malecon ocean drive, will became one of the residential complexes for the new US embassy in Cuba.

The reason behind this choice is more than obvious: the building is located in Havana’s exclusive neighborhood of Vedado, near the Hotel Nacional, the Capri and Habana Libre, a mere 400 meters away from the US embassy.

It has a garage, large apartments (approximately 700 square meters each) and an enviable view of the city. From the building, one can easily walk to popular nightclubs such as the Gato Tuerto or La Zorra y el Cuervo.

The 30-story building was built in 1957, designed and planned by Fernando R. De Castro Cardenas and Jose A. Vila Espinosa.

Facing the Someillan building, about thirty meters away, is the monument to the victims of the Maine, whose pillars once held the imperial eagle, toppled in 1961 following the Bay of Pigs invasion, a symbol of the falling out between the two nations – now a metaphor of the new political game between Washington and Havana.

“We’re almost done here,” a construction worker who preferred to remain anonymous told OnCuba. “We’ve been working for months. Others were working here before us; they bring us in for different phases of the work.”

The young man brushed aside the rubble from the last remodelling, between the enormous building and another, smaller edifice known as the “small” Someillan (located a few meters away, down Linea street).

“What they told us is that it may be used for an embassy, a hotel or private residences. We don’t exactly know who’ll live here,” he said.

File photo of the Someillian  building (r).
File photo of the Someillian building (r).

A short, stout construction worker, an expert in finishings for luxury apartments, interjected, somewhat loudly: “The whole building’s for the Americans!” He opened his hands, covered with the whitish filling used to plug up cracks and holes.

The information was also confirmed by recent State Department documents published by the Federal Procurement Data System, which report on the rental of the building’s penthouse by the US government, as well as on the expansion of the apartments and others.

Expense reports, brought to light by journalist Tracey Eaton, reveal that, on June 3, 2015, the US Interests Section in Havana paid Brooklyn’s Star Creations Inc. US $4,414.03 for kitchen equipment and household appliances for the Someillan penthouse.

It is not yet known whether the US embassy – whose diplomatic headquarters are renowned due to their immense staff – is only considering the purchase of the penthouse or whether it will buy other properties in the building (currently leased from Palco). We can have a sense of the embassy’s plans, however, if we have a look at other recent transactions, such as the acquisition, “for Someillan apartments” (in plural) of more household and kitchen appliances, purchased from Caprice Electronics (also a Brooklyn company), for a total value of US $20,480.90.

The Someillan penhouse has a priviliged view. There, before the gilded colors of dusk, the next US ambassador could well find respite from the tensions caused by implementing US policy on the island. We can only hope Havana’s sea breezes will do him good.

11 thoughts on “Is Havana’s Someillan Building on the US Purchase List?

  • My grandfather s sister lived there they owned a gorgeous 3 bedroom apartment with a spectacular view, I sadly remember visiting them and how the apartment was destroyed after they exiled.

  • Aj
    Hi my grand mother was Maria Someillan my mother is Rosalia Someillan
    I was also many times at the building I have a great news paper article of the Someillan Lion fyi his name was tito but I’m sure you know that he was sent to the zoo because what happened with tia Concha

  • Amazing! I was about 2 years old when my Great Grand Father who was the original Owner of this building, took me for a tour of this building. My Great Grand Father was very well known for his rides around town in his pink Cadillac and Lioness -yes Lioness lol… Guillermo Someillan my Great Grand Father – was a very interesting man!

  • Really!!! Oh my!! Glad we have Griffin in the know to warn the US State Department! I mean…if Cuba were found to be eavesdropping, that might seriously destroy any progress that’s been made by both country’s in their rapprochement efforts.

  • I missed this the first time reading the article: the expenses Mr Eaton uncovered for kitchen appliances: some $4000 for the penthouse and another $20k for the rest of the apartments.

    Perhaps that sounds like a large sum to Cuban ears, but $24,000 is a small budget to kit out a fashionable kitchen in the U.S. A Washington matron would be embarrassed to admit she spent so little updating her chic Georgetown appartment kitchen. Perhaps there are more bills to be uncovered, but as it stands, that’s very small change.

  • But Cuba spies in the USA! Five of them were caught and now in retirement being used by the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba as national heroes – their use as active spies having been negated.
    Many countries have spying agencies, some are more competent than others – the US agency the CIA being pretty inept.

  • I did not say we don’t do the same thing. Relax Mikey. I am only pointing out that we need to sweep the building before we move in.

  • and the US does not spy at all abroad… Europe, in Latin America, in China……..always a ridiculous excuse to accept the stupidity of 55 years of isolation wih Cuba….

  • I shutter to imagine all of the listening devices and surveillance equipment being hidden in the walls of this building by the notoriously paranoid Castro regime. I only hope that the US technology to detect and cancel these devices is better than the Chinese technology of the listening devices.

  • The Castro family regime has schizophrenia – on the one hand Raul will address CELAC savagely criticizing the US policies on Venezuela and on the other hand will pander to the requirements of the US Embassy staff in Havana. The first is to demonstrate ‘solidarity’ with the regimes current Nanny, and the second an endeavor to secure a replacement Nanny.
    Socialismo has continually required funding from others, being incapable of developing a self-supporting economy.
    Just think of how many of Cuba’s crumbling homes could have been brought up to habitable standards with the $20 million spent on kitchen equipment for the Someillan building. But then the regime no longer has any responsibility for repairing Cuban’s homes, having transferred ownership to the occupiers three years ago.

  • A Cuban construction company carried out the extensive renovations of the apartment building where US embassy employees will live?

    The State Department had better send their best bug sweepers in there to check it out thoroughly before they let anybody move in. The Cuban Ministry of the Interior are experts at installing discreet listening devices, cameras and other forms of electronic eavesdropping technology.

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