Construction workers this week returned to a plot of land in Prague 7 where a new shopping mall and office complex could stand in as little as 18 months. The question is how soon they will move beyond basement levels. Prague 7’s mayor, Jan Čižinský, has made clear that the developer needs to meet requirements in its contract with Prague 7 which have not yet been met.
Palác Stromovka in Prague 7 is not yet standing but for many local residents the planned centre is unwelcome. Many in the past expressed disapproval of the design of such a massive structure on a wedge of land flanking one of Prague’s busiest streets: Veletržní on one side and Stromovka Park on the other. For some two years, the construction site stood empty, little more than a massive hole in the ground. Now, the developer has been given the go-ahead technically but Prague 7 says outstanding problems remain.
In its contract, the firm, called Lordship, repprtedly agreed to build not just a shopping centre and offices but also to include on-site flats which do not exist in the current plans. The mayor of Prague 7, Jan Čižinský, confirmed for Radio Prague that other items in the contract had also been left out, including a Holocaust memorial and a recreational area. Meanwhile, 10,000 square metres will be used for shops alone.
Why were the planned apartments not included? As conceived, they were not given the go-ahead by the Hygiene Office because of noise pollution off of Veletržní. For the apartments to be allowed, they would have to be situated differently within the entire facility. Mayor Jan Čižinský said those and other items agreed were a matter for negotiation.
“Under the current plans of course apartments couldn’t be allowed. Noise pollution is measured two metres in front of the façade. If the complex was designed differently, within a courtyard, for example, existing requirements would be met.”
While some residents will no doubt welcome a new supermarket and a massive shopping complex, others are strictly against, saying the structure will increase traffic along what is already one of Prague’s busiest streets. Veletržní was supposed to see less congestion after the opening of the Blanka Tunnel. By definition, the new site, once built, will attract more cars, not less. Prague resident Jitka Černá expressed her dissatisfaction on Czech TV.
“I am very concerned. It is a shopping centre, after all. It will definitely increase traffic. Lots of people will take their cars.”
Officials at City Hall in Prague 7 inherited the existing contract from the previous administration and it is no stretch of the imagination to say there are probably many who wish such a deal had never been signed. The current administration and the developer now have a stark choice ahead: to reach an agreement or compromise over existing contractual obligations or to take the entire matter to court. The developer, having poured tens of millions of crowns into the project so far, could sue the city for damages if the complex were blocked and - because international finances were involved – could take the matter to an international arbitration court.