Wednesday, 27 March 2019

70-Metre Observation Tower to Be Centrepiece of Zagreb Manhattan?

It is not a 200-storey skyscraper, which Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić daydreamed about last week, but it is an observation tower that could potentially be among the 15 highest structures in Croatia. According to the public call issued to architects and designers, it will be the “the anchor and the heart of a mixed-use master plan which will represent the new city centre.” In other words, it is around this 45-70 metre tower, which will be located in the area of the present racecourse, that the so-called Zagreb Manhattan will be based, reports Večernji List on March 27, 2019.

The call to interested designers is the first concrete move in the “City Within City” project, announced just over a month ago. It is supposed to cover the 1.1 million square metre area at and around the current Zagreb Fair and should include the centre of Novi Zagreb. The ideas on how the tower should look like have been sought by Ex Development from Dubai, a company with less than ten employees established, according to the LinkedIn business network, about half a year ago.

The observation tower, which must be a recognisable city landmark, should look over the Sava river, as well as the whole city, according to the call, adding that it is essential that the structure should have only stairs and an elevator leading to the top, with no additional facilities.

Designers and architects have until just April 10 to design the future "symbol of Zagreb", and the best proposal will be rewarded with 20,000 dollars. The "view of the old part of the city and the mountain in the background" will be the main feature of the future tower, which will be located in the new centre of the Croatian capital, which will also include "residential buildings, shops, offices and cultural facilities.”

According to the sketch which is part of the competition and which shows where the future tower will be located, it will be surrounded by one of three large squares, a retail street, a larger park and a “green link” with the existing Park Mladenaca. Also, there is a tram line planned within the "Zagreb Manhattan".

The Zagreb Society of Architects Zagreb (DAZ) reacted to the competition, saying that the area with the first structure should actually be developed at the end of the project. “It is set on the hippodrome and near the Sava river, and this area should be planned only after the urban regeneration of the Zagreb Fair area is completed,” said the DAZ, adding that the whole intervention is against the concept of the fair as a cultural unit.

The city authorities said unofficially that they know about the contest, but that it was a "framework plan" of one of the potential investors in "Zagreb City".

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Mateja Šobak).

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Protest Held Against Zagreb Mayor Honorary Doctorate

ZAGREB, March 27, 2019 - Hundreds of members of the academic community rallied outside the Zagreb University building on Tuesday evening for a protest against a proposal by the Zagreb Academy of Music to award Mayor Milan Bandić an honorary doctorate of Zagreb University.

Speakers at the rally said that Zagreb University was going through one of the worst episodes in its history, adding that they were ashamed and that a turnaround would have to happen.

Stjepan Perko, a candidate for a doctor's degree at Zagreb's Faculty of Political Science, who organised the rally, said that it was shameful to honour Bandić, who had been indicted in a number of cases, in any way, let alone with an honorary doctorate.

The protesters carried banners with messages seeking Zagreb University head Damir Boras's resignation and ridiculing the university's earlier decision to grant an honorary doctorate to Dragan Čović, leader of the Bosnian Croat HDZ BiH party, and shouted "Stop violence against university".

A professor at the Faculty of Science, Damir Bakić, expressed solidarity with the members of the Academy of Music who opposed the academy's proposal to award Bandić an honorary doctorate.

More than 750 professors, students, Zagreb University alumni and other members of the academic community a few days ago sent a letter to the Academic Senate, urging it not to award Bandić an honorary doctorate.

Noting that the commission in charge of awarding honorary doctorates would probably cite in its decision regarding Bandić projects such as the new building of the Academy of Music, they said that it was not Bandić who had financially helped Zagreb University but rather residents of Zagreb, by paying local taxes.

The disgruntled members of the academic community also noted in their letter that Bandić was connected with numerous scandals and legal proceedings launched against him over suspected wrongdoing.

Science and Education Minister Blaženka Divjak said earlier in the day that the Academic Senate had to take into account the opinion of the part of the academic community that opposed the plan to award the mayor an honorary doctorate and that its responsibility in that regard was considerable.

More news about Zagreb mayor can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Burj Khalifa Shines in Colours of Croatian Flag

Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, was dressed in colours of the Croatian flag. This is how Dubai welcomed Mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandić, who is visiting the largest city of the United Arab Emirates, reports Večernji List on March 13, 2019.

Bandić is supposed to meet there with Mayor Dawood Abdul Rahman al-Hajiri, and Mohamed Alabbar, owner of Eagle Hills, who will realise the City in the City project in Zagreb, also known as the so-called Zagreb Manhattan. The delegation travelled to Dubai upon receiving an invitation from al-Hajiri.

Bandić posted a photo of the Burj Khalifa in the colours of the Croatian flag on Facebook. “When Dubai is lit in Croatian colours... Greetings to my beloved Zagreb and all of Croatia!” Bandić wrote.

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The city authorities opted for Alabbar's offer last week, deciding it was better than the one sent by the concessionaire of Zagreb Airport, which also wanted to develop the area. Although the mayor said that the decision was not final, according to unofficial information he is in Dubai to negotiate and sign a memorandum of interest.

The new project will be developed at a one million square metres area bounded by the Sava river, Većeslav Holjevac Avenue, Dubrovnik Avenue and Cimermanova Street. Mayor Bandić supposedly likes the type of project that Mohamed Alabbar’s Eagle Hills is already developing as part of the Belgrade Waterfront.

There is no detailed information about the Zagreb project, since there are a number of steps which need to be done before the construction can begin, and the main one is amendments to the city urban planning documents. What could be agreed in Dubai is how the partnership between the city authorities and Eagle Hills will work, who will invest how much in the project and how the potential profits will be split. Mohammed Alabbar has already talked with Bandić in Zagreb, and they will now meet again in Dubai.

“Everything we have done in these 19 years pales in comparison with what will happen there”, said the mayor in mid-February talking about the "Zagreb Manhattan". The project is expected to be worth between a billion and a billion and a half kuna and more information should be known in a month to two.

This is just one of Mayor Bandić’s major projects which he has announced during 19 years of his rule, but many of them have never moved beyond the initial phase.

More news about the Zagreb mayor can be found in the Politics section.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Mateja Šobak).

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Belgrade Waterfront to Be Followed by Zagreb Manhattan

Their references prove they have outstanding experience in developing projects of a similar scope – this is the reason why the so-called Zagreb Manhattan will be built by the same entrepreneur who has built the tallest building in the world and is currently developing the Belgrade Waterfront project, explained the Zagreb city administration. The selection of Eagle Hills, owned by Emirate entrepreneur Mohamed Alabbar, supposedly was not easy, since the other candidate was the French company of Bouygues Batiment International, best known as the concessionaire of the Zagreb Airport, reports Večernji List on March 7, 2019.

Three bids were received, but one was not valid, so only the submissions by Eagle Hills and Bouygues Batiment were considered. “The qualifications and proven experience of both bidders are impressive, and they gave a tough task to the commission. Given the fact that Zagreb is looking for a partner for the urban and economic transformation of the area, which will make this part of the city attractive to citizens, tourists and businesses, Eagle Hills’ offer was assessed as the better one,” said the city authorities.

The decision was made by a commission led by the head of the City Office for Economy Mirka Jozić. The decision will be followed by “negotiations on the memorandum of understanding as a form of expressing the intention to take part in the procedure”, after which an international agreement will be concluded.

However, the decision on who will develop the area between the Sava river, Većeslav Holjevac Avenue, Dubrovnik Avenue and Cimermanova Street was not really difficult, given the fact that meetings with the Middle Eastern entrepreneurs were already held last year. Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić liked the Belgrade Waterfront project, which is led by Mohamed Alabbar, so he decided to bring him to the Croatian capital as well. This is the reason why the deadline for sending bids was just two weeks.

However, the abilities of the selected entrepreneur are not in question. Alabbar is the president of the company with an annual turnover of six billion dollars. Eagle Hills, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, is best known for building the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Four years ago, Alabbar started the Belgrade Waterfront project, which includes the construction of a new downtown area of the Serbian capital near the Sava river, something similar to what Bandić plans to do with the current hippodrome in Zagreb.

In the beginning, Eagle Hills was supposed to invest four billion dollars in the Belgrade project, but eventually paid just 160 million dollars and loaned Serbia another 300 million dollars. The Emirate company will be entitled to 68 per cent of the proceeds from the sale and rentals, and the land will remain in its possession for the next 99 years. It remains to be seen what the contract for the new district in Zagreb, with residential and commercial buildings, promenades, parks, shopping centres, kindergartens and schools, will look like.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Mateja Šobak).

More Zagreb news can be found in the dedicated section.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Zagreb Mayor, Israeli Ambassador Pay Tribute to Jasenovac Victims

ZAGREB, February 20, 2019 - A delegation of the City of Zagreb, led by Mayor Milan Bandić, and Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor, on Wednesday visited Jasenovac to commemorate victims of the WW2 Ustasha-run concentration camp.

During the visit, Mayor Bandić said that the Nazi-style Ustasha regime "was neither independent nor democratic or Croatian" and that it was "a dark stain in Croatia's history".

Bandić underscored that during the Second World War, most Croatians sided with the anti-Fascist coalition, explaining that a majority of anti-Fascist units in the area of former Yugoslavia were actually set up in Croatia.

The newly-appointed Israeli ambassador said that this was his first visit to the Jasenovac Memorial Site.

The diplomat added that Jasenovac should be a place of education of young generations so that evil was not repeated.

From August 1941 to 22 April 1945, Jasenovac operated as a death camp where men, women and children were killed because of their religion, ethnicity or ideology. The list of victims contains the names and other information on 83,145 people - 39,570 men, 23,474 women and 20,101 children under the age of 14. The most numerous victims of the camp were Serbs, Roma, Jews and Croats.

More news about Jasenovac can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Šalata Swimming Pool Complex to Be Upgraded for 400 Million Kuna

The first phase will include renovation of outdoor pools and outdoor terraces, technical facilities, poolside facilities, and the western and northern stands. The second phase will consist of everything else. This is how the chief of the City Economy Office Tatjana Opert explained the upcoming works on the upgrade of the Šalata swimming pool complex, reports Večernji List on February 18, 2019.

Šalata is expected to be the first major sports complex to be renovated after the establishment of the new city company called Sportski Objekti (Sports Facilities), which will be in charge of the reconstruction of depilated sports facilities in Zagreb. The new Šalata will cost between 350 and 400 million kuna, says Operta. Due to the amount of the investment, the project should be implemented in two phases, and the money will be raised from credit institutions or, in a better scenario, from European Union funds.

The project will ultimately be implemented by the project team of the new company if it is indeed set up next month. It is not expected that the works at Šalata will start this year, but tenders for construction works could be announced. The planning tender was completed in 2016.

At the time, the city authorities selected the Proarh Tri and Radionica Statike project. Two years earlier, the Faculty of Architecture and its Institute for Culture stipulated what the project solution must include and what should be taken into consideration when designing the new look of the sports complex that was initially constructed in the 1920s. The latest major reconstruction was done in the period from 1985 to 1987.

“At the time, the works included the reconstruction of the open pool, the existing tennis courts, wardrobes, boiler rooms and accompanying facilities, and other supporting infrastructure of the complex. An indoor pool was planned, but it was never built.

And now, 32 years later, the indoor pool represents the central element of the reconstruction project, that will enable swimmers to enjoy Šalata throughout the year, not just during the summer months. The plan is built an Olympic-size pool with ten lanes, and a separate smaller pool for training and diving.

The project will include the renovation of the entrance area and the cashier office, the staff rooms, the dressing rooms, the catering section, the gym, a work area for the media and, if possible, a sauna. The final design of the project has not yet been defined.

According to architect Davor Mateković, they have been working on the final designs since late last year. In addition to the swimming pool complex, which will be part of the first phase, the larger renovation project will include the skating rink and the tennis courts. The new Šalata could be finished by 2025.

More Zagreb news can be found in the dedicated section.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Mateja Šobak).

Friday, 15 February 2019

Investors to Build "City within the City" in Zagreb?

Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić allegedly wants to build a new city within Zagreb, on the 1.1 million square metre plot of land between the Sava River, Većeslav Holjevac Avenue and Dubrovnik Avenue, and the total investment of the project will not be less than 500 million euros, reports Jutarnji List on February 15, 2019.

These plans are part of the public call that the city administration issued in recent days to potential investors to participate in the development and realization of the project “City within the City”, aiming to transform this part of the town into a "new, innovative urban area, with mixed and diverse complementary services, which would improve the overall quality of life of the inhabitants, become a tourist attraction, and form the centre of Novi Zagreb with its many diverse functions.”

This is perhaps the most attractive property owned by the city authorities, and it is currently occupied by the Zagreb Fair, the Hippodrome and the football complex used by the Lokomotiva Football Club.

What is interesting in Bandić’s latest ambitious “plan” is an exceptionally short deadline for submitting letters of intent. Anyone who wants to participate must respond urgently by March 1, which is less than 15 days away.

The transformation of this area has been talked about for years, but investments and the possible removal of a number of current buildings there have been prevented by the conservation regulations. The city authorities allegedly held several meetings with Middle East investors, which were looking for locations for more substantial investments. In addition to the Arab investors, there were also people from China who were looking for projects worth more than 50 million euros.

The new “city” would include residential and business buildings, promenades, parks, new streets, shopping centres, catering facilities, as well as a number of public spaces for citizens.

If the project is every realised, which is not certain at all and does not seem particularly likely, it would be funded as follows. After the further development of detailed plans, which would determine the needs of both the city and the investor, the value of the land would be assessed. The city would then invest the land, while the private investors would finance the construction of the buildings and other facilities.

"The Hippodrome will most likely have to be moved from the area. It restricts the development of this part of the town,” said sources, adding that the Hippodrome would be moved to a location in the western or eastern part of the city, or perhaps to the area around Brezovica. On the other hand, the Zagreb Fair, which has been defined in numerous planning documents as a strategic area, has not been fully modernised for decades.

Companies which want to apply for the public call will have to fulfil several conditions. In addition to being very quick in developing plans in order to submit them to the city in less than two weeks, they must have developed similar projects in the last five years in the amount of least 500 million euro. They also must have experts who have implemented projects worth over 200 million euros over the past five years, of which at least two projects must refer to the urban transformation of a city.

Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Tomislav Mamić).

More news about Zagreb and its “mega-projects” can be found in the special Zagreb section.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Zagreb Mayor Fined by Conflict of Interest Commission

ZAGREB, February 8, 2019 - The parliamentary conflict of interest commission on Friday fined Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić 30,000 kuna for signing a contract on the legal representation of the city and city companies by the law firm of the late Marijan Hanžeković because the law firm deposited 15 million kuna so Bandic could be released on bail during an investigation into a corruption case dubbed Agram.

Commission chair Nataša Novaković said that the contract between Hanžeković's law firm and the city of Zagreb and city companies amounted to 25 million kuna annually.

Novakovic said that after the law firm deposited bail money, Bandić found himself in a relationship of dependence on Hanžeković and his law firm and that he should therefore not have been involved in the procurement of legal services involving Hanžeković and his partners and especially, not sign decisions and contracts with that law firm.

The conflict of interest commission also decided that MP Milorad Pupovac of the SDSS party had breached the Conflict of Interest Act by failing to exempt himself, in his capacity as a member of the Council for Ethnic Minorities, from a vote the Council took on 5 May 2016 to reallocate budget funds for ethnic minorities, including, among others, to the Serb National Council (SNV), of which Pupovac is president.

Presenting his defence before the commission, Pupovac said that he believed that he had not breached the Conflict of Interest Act because the SNV was not a group of private persons linked with him by interest, adding however that he would respect the commission's decision.

He said that he took part in the debate at the Council session and remained during the vote but that neither he nor other Council members could remember him having taken part in the vote.

More news on the Zagreb Mayor Bandić can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Zagreb Authorities Call on Wealthy Debtors to Pay Their Utility Debts

ZAGREB, February 3, 2019 - Executives of the Zagreb Holding multi-utility conglomerate on Saturday called on defaulters, who are perceived in the public as well-off citizens, to pay utility charges in arrears following media reports that apart from poor residents, also some business people and other higher-class residents were covered by the city's measure to write off their debts.

After the law on debt discharge for natural persons came into force on July 21 last year, the City of Zagreb decided to discharge its citizens with blocked bank accounts from a debt of up to 10,000 kuna (1,350 euro) for utilities, regardless of their actual financial status.

In the late 2018, this information caused a public uproar when media broke the news that defaulters for whom such debts have been written off include football coach Zoran Mamić, former footballers Zvonimir Boban and Dino Drpić, entrepreneur Zoran Burić, who is the husband of Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić, former general Vladimir Zagorac, arms dealer Zvonko Zubak and Europatrade owner Marijan Šarić.

Some of them have in the meantime paid off their debts.

However, media outlets have recently again highlighted this issue, which was why Mirka Jozić, the head of the city department for economic matters held a news conference on Saturday at which she called on those remaining controversial defaulters to cover their debts.

She underscores that as a result of the measure, the City of Zagreb has written off the aggregate debt in the amount of 13.6 million kuna for more than 3,000 debtors.

Jozić insists that good effects of the law could not be overshadowed by the fact that a dozen of millionaires have mistakenly ended up on this list of residents eligible for debt write-off.

Also, Zagreb Holding believes that some of those wealthy debtors are not aware of their utility charges in arrears, as they live abroad.

As soon as in late October the scandal broke about the husband of Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić, being among debtors, the minister said that her husband had settled his debt to the City of Zagreb.

"I don't know about the City of Zagreb's decision or how my husband's name ended up on that list, because I have no knowledge of his business activity. My husband today checked the reasons of the debt incurred by his former business office and has settled the debt in full," the minister said through her spokesman then.

Also, Mayor Milan Bandić reassured the public then that he would put his veto on a possibility for wealthy defaulters to have their utility charges in arrears written-off.

More Zagreb news can be found in the special Zagreb section.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Milan Bandić Opens Works on Sljeme Cable Car, Explains Huge Expense

After years of back and forth (literally) on Sljeme's cable car, Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić has ceremonially opened the works on the up and coming cable car, he also explained why Zagreb's brand new attraction is going to cost more than the one in the Alps.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 25th of January, 2019, the ever enigmatic Milan Bandić symbolically started the works on the construction of the Sljeme cable car by using a dredge and laying a stone foundation.

The Sljeme cable car saga has been ongoing for some considerable time now, with a few little scandals under its belt for good measure, and now that works have finally actually begun, the contracted time for the eventual realisation of this large city project currently stands at fifteen months.

True to character, Milan Bandić was witty and always the spectacle yesterday, especially when responding to the question put forward by SDP's Mateja Mišić, who asked him where he intended to get the cash for the lift from if he hadn't put it in the plan for this year's budget, according to a report from Večernji list.

In 2019, Mišić recalled, the initially planned amount for Zagreb's cable car was once a certain amount, while the projection for 2020 is different.

''The money will be secured in the rebalances,'' concluded Bandić, who decided to justify matters and state that the up and coming Zagreb cable car will be more expensive than that which leads to Matterhorn.

Our cable car, as Milan Bandić said, is a kilometre longer, and therefore, unlike the one in the Alps that costs fourteen million euros, this one here costs fifteen million.

Make sure to stay up to date with everything you need to know by following our dedicated lifestyle page. If it's just the Croatian capital city you're interested in, give Total Zagreb a follow.

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