A Further Look at Tirana’s “Transformation Zones” The main transformation zones in Tirana. TR030, p. 170.

Earlier this month, I offered a first discussion of the “transformation zones” proposed by the Tirana 2030 Masterplan, which will effectually privatize entire parts of Tirana, handing them over to large real-estate developers. This has obviously wide-ranging consequences for the people currently living in these areas. We will now try to inspect to few concrete plans of the municipality, and some of the different zones that will be “transformed” or “developed.” Unfortunately the masterplan is far from complete, and is missing the majority of the concrete plans for the transformation zones.

The areas surrounded by a brown line in the image above are the zones in Tirana designated as “transformation zones.” The Tirana 2030 Masterplan is explicit about the way in which these zones will be “transformed,” namely through a government tender process:

In order to favor the control of different proposals, in order to improve the offer in a qualitative manner, and in order to confirm the quality of the project, the General Local Plan envisions that the interventions in the transformation zones have to be the object of tender procedures that give the rights to a volumetric profit as has been determined in the Regulations of the Plan.

2. a development bonus according to an evaluation of the quality that needs to be delivered based on a table determined in the Regulations of the Plan.

Although formulated in crooked Albanian, the intention seems clear. Transformation zones will be tendered out to companies seeking to extract profit from these areas. Certain companies, no doubt “friendly” to the government, will be selected for “development bonuses.”

Compared to the magnitude of these government tenders or public-private partnerships, the interventions in Skënderbeg Square or at the National Stadium will seem small and unimportant; entire blocks and neighborhoods will be tendered out to private businesses to develop according to their liking. And as oversight mechanisms have failed miserably in the past to prevent illegal construction activity and control the activities of construction companies in public space as well as their detrimental impact on the environment, it seems unlikely that the municipality will do a better job in these cases.

Below I present all the transformation zones that are discussed in the Tirana 2030 Masterplan. All these zones will be tendered out for redevelopment over the coming years.

Legend (for more details, download the plan, page 170 and further):

  • Thick red line: border of the transformation zone
  • Territory encircled/shaded yellow: existing buildings will be saved
  • Territory encircled/shaded dark orange: existing buildings will be “developed”

Farka

Screenshot from 2017-01-26 11-01-38
Farka Transformation Zone. TR030, p. 171.

Lapraka

Lapraka Transformation Zone. TR030, p. 172.
Lapraka Transformation Zone. TR030, p. 172.

Kamza University

Kamza University Transformation Zone. TR030, p. 173.
Kamza University Transformation Zone. TR030, p. 173.

Kombinat

Kombinat Transformation Zone. TR030, p. 174.
Kombinat Transformation Zone. TR030, p. 174.

Misto Mame

Misto Mame Development Zone. TR030, p. 175.
Misto Mame Development Zone. TR030, p. 175.

As can be understood from these five maps, these urban redevelopment projects will have wide-ranging consequences. In all cases, significant portions of the present buildings will be demolished or reconstructed.

But note how the Tirana 2030 Masterplan only gives an overview of five peripheral redevelopment projects: Farka, Kamza, Lapraka, Kombinat, and Misto Mame. Ten other projects, including the northern extension of the Boulevard, the area extending from Skënderbeg Square to Tirana University, a large part of the Tirana Lake Park, the neighborhood around the National Stadium, the area around Mother Theresa Hospital and the Military Academy, Kinostudio, Tufina, the former Airstrip, and the Farka Lake Park have not been specified, even though they are already designated for future public procurement.

How is it possible that the Municipal Council approved to tender out entire areas of Tirana without being informed about what will be done in them, you may ask. The answer is, because they don’t care.