In the past, the Holesovice district near the centre of Prague was a busy industrial area, which was also home to the city's main harbour and docklands. Over the last few decades, however, Holesovice has experienced something of a decline. Many of the factories that were located here have closed down, and its once lively port area is now a sleepy backwater.
These difficulties were compounded further when Holesovice was one of the districts most badly hit by the floods that engulfed Prague in August 2002, which caused extensive damage. Now, however, Holesovice could be revitalised thanks to an ambitious new building development in the area.
Jindrich Vodicka from the company Lighthouse Vltava Waterfront Towers is one of the people behind the project:
"This project will upgrade this part of Prague. We are very close to the centre of the city and this huge area of Prague had been an industrial zone until the land-use plan was changed a few months ago. I can't imagine that any city could afford to have such a huge area lying idle in the centre of the city. So it will improve the quality of life in Prague significantly."
Lighthouse Vltava Waterfront Towers' General Manager Tamir Winterstein also believes that the development could have an enormously positive impact on the centre of Prague:
"Prague needs a project like this. It's a project in the centre of the town, but with open areas and a very long waterfront of 1.8 km. It's a beautiful location and is really the only project in Prague that has such a huge capacity and is so near to the [city] centre with so much open space."
It is hoped that the Holesovice development will be as successful as dockland renewal programmes in other European cities such as London and Hamburg.
If all goes to plan, the development will create a massive new 140,000-m2 embankment, which could change the face of the city centre. The developers intend to erect large swathes of residential housing, attractive office buildings and retail outlets. They also plan to build cultural and sports facilities, including a new harbour for yachts and pleasure boats.
Despite the ambitious scale of the project, there are some who question the wisdom of building such a huge development in an area which was one of the places worst affected by the floods of 2002. Tamir Winterstein, however believes that such fears are unfounded:
"We are fully protected against flooding. Part of the project will be protected by barriers built by the city and the second part will be protected by our barriers, which we will build. The ground floor of all the buildings will be 80 cm above the level of the floods in 2002."
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