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Negotiations regarding construction at Vake Park at a standstill between City Hall and Budapest investors

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Tuesday, February 16
The meeting between the Vice-Mayor and the investor in the Vake Park in Tbilisi City Hall ended in vain - the City Hall maintains the position that no hotel will be built in the recreation area and refuses the proposition to build a restaurant of the same size as well.

According to the Vice-Mayor of Tbilisi, Irakli Khmaladze, the optimal way to solve the issue is for the owner to accept the offer of the municipality regarding the relocation of the land.

“This is unacceptable for us,” Khmaladze told the media, recalling that two years ago when negotiations started, talks referred to the restoration of the restaurant Budapest, which stood for decades in Vake Park, and “not the placement of some huge building with hotel settings.”

According to him, the investor was once again offered an alternative place, but it was rejected and the meeting ended without finding common ground. He emphasized that the reason investors didn’t agree to the relocation is that they hope to build a hotel in the Park.

“Sooner or later, we will get to the point where they are convinced that they can not build a hotel in Vake Park by any action,” he said, referring to the fact that on the morning of February 15, the investor brought heavy equipment to Vake Park. The works were stopped for a short time at the request of the City Hall.

Giorgi Zakaidze, the owner of the area, says that the City Hall agrees to pay him GEL20 million, but in the future. According to him, a refund is acceptable only if it is given soon and not in upcoming years, as City Hall has suggested, explaining that the amount of money will be put in next year’s budget. He also added that no new places for relocation were suggested at the meeting.

The multi-year litigation ended with the investor winning in 2019, although he does not have a construction permit under the 2015 ordinance.

On July 24, 2013, by the decree of the Mayor of Tbilisi, Gigi Ugulava, on I. Chavchavadze Ave. the land plot # 68, in the territory of Vake Park, the urban development parameters have been increased and a special (zonal) agreement has been approved for the location of the hotel. The same year, the Architecture Service of Tbilisi City Hall issued a construction permit. However, the construction permit expired on September 21, 2016.

Representatives of non-governmental organizations, activists, and the population have been protesting against the issuance of a construction permit for the Budapest Hotel in Vake Park for years. Construction was halted following public demands.

Two years ago, on January 25, 2019, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze said, "Vake Park has won and nothing will be built on this particular site." According to the then statement of the Tbilisi Mayor, an agreement was reached with the investor. He said they agreed on the relocation issue.

One year after this announcement, investors in the construction of the Budapest Hotel said that the state did not want to exchange or buy the territory. He said if the City Hall does not respond adequately, they will start construction works on the land.

Tbilisi City Hall has started complete rehabilitation-renovation of the Vake Park area. Kaladze explained that Vake Park will be renovated but will preserve the cultural heritage sites located there.