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City Hall approves Mirza Shapi controversial project amid heated debates

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, August 14
The majority of Tbilisi's City Hall has supported a Mirza Shapi street project that envisages developing activities in the historical-architectural centre of Tbilisi.

The winning sketch project drafted by architect Vladimer Abramishvili was strongly opposed by the City Hall minority, independent MPs, NGOs and green movements.

The opponents have demanded the putting off of all discussions until September, as according to them a passive summer period was deliberately selected by those who are interested in pushing the project.

“It’s ridiculous that those who are in the majority now were opposing the project when they were in the opposition with me. We had done our best under the previous government to suspend the project and achieved the aim. The former Mayor ,Gigi Ugulava, did not dare to do such things as the current authorities are doing,” Elisashvili said, stressing that the investor of the project Giorgi Svanidze was an “ordinary criminal” , who enjoyed a “green light” for the project from both former and current authorities.

“However, I and others will do our best to hinder the the project,” Elisashvili said.

The Institute of Georgian Architects believes that the project will damage Tbilisi’s historical outlook and demands a repeated contest for choosing a winning project. In case of a refusal, they intend to address to the court.

Members of the Partisan Gardening NGO emphasized that starting construction of blocks of flats and similar buildings in the heart of the city would be a betrayal to Tbilisi and will encourage the future architectural and ecological collapse in the capital.

Tbilisi Mayor’s Office Architecture Department representatives exclude a new contest and stress that already conducted competition met all standards.

Head of the Department Nino Ghoghoberidze stressed that the winning project was selected based on the principle of anonymity as it adhered to almost all demands of her office.

She said that the project has already undergone a correction through which two upper floors were removed from constructions.

Majority member Gocha Babunashvili discussed the financial benefit of the project. He stated that the project cost was 60 million GEL and up to 1,500-2,000 workers would be employed in the course of a two-year construction period.

“After the project is finalized, it would employee up to 2,000 persons as well,” he said.

In 2008, under the previous government, up to 20 different types of buildings were destroyed on the site in order for new constructs to be built there. An investor, CAPITAL PARTNERS OF GEORGIA, was thought to put 100 million GEL in the project and at the same time preserved the outlook of the old district of Tbilisi. However, in 2014 the project was sunk by the new administration of the city and a new competition was announced.