National Theater Project Will Facilitate Theft of Public Property by Private Companies

Although the head of the Central Immovable Asset Registration Office Valdrin Pjetri refused to make public any data regarding the ownership of the land on which the National Theater rests, today, the Alliance for the Protection of the Theater (AMT) published a map of the plot in question, and exposed that the Rama government’s claim that the private part of the project will “not infringe on National Theater land” is false.

According to information gathered by the AMT, over 90% of the area in question is public property, while private company Fusha shpk will build on it to its own profit, allegedly in order to justify the costs of the new Theater building.

Using the official government cadastral website, the Alliance shows that the special law passed by the Socialist majority two weeks ago, which mandates the demolition of the National Theater and new real estate developments in the surrounding area, will influence 11 different properties, marked in red below.

Through that same website, the Alliance has managed to acquire information regarding the dimensions and ownership of each plot.

As shown in the table below, out of a 9,026.74 square meters in total, over 90% of the area is publically owned, with the rest being owned by private individuals. Besides plot no. 1/241, which is the current property of the National Theater, the public also owns 2,600 additional square meters in this area.

The largest part of this additional public land is owned by the Tirana Municipality, which, by the Constitution and the law for local governing, must approve transferral of ownership to a third party by a no less than 3/5ths of the votes in the Municipal Council.

From the project plans made public so far, it is clear that Fusha shpk will build six multistoried buildings in this area. A rendering of the development plan, as published by various sources, can be found below. The new National Theater building is marked in green, whereas the yellow buildings will be part of the private development.

It is nearly impossible for the project plan to be realized without infringing on public property. The surface area of the currently privately owned land is very small, as shown in red in the image below.

Asking whether or not the private company will build on plot 1/241, currently owned by the National Theater, is pointless. The rest of the publicly owned land will be developed for private interests, as a way to justify the new Theater. Furthermore, it is precisely this land that the government has violated the Constitution to procure, appropriating a property of the Municipal Council without a 3/5 vote approving of the transferal of ownership.

Although this is clearly a harmful project from an urban and historic-cultural perspective, the Albanian legislature already provides every needed instrument one may need to procure a construction permit. No new laws are needed in this area. The reason for this “special law” is the unification of all public property in a single redevelopment plan, to be transferred, afterward, to a predetermined private entity. Such a plan, as described above, is a violation of the Constitution, seeing that the Municipal Council of Tirana has not approved of a transferal of ownership to a third party.