Part of the Kombinat neighborhood in Tirana will be cleared of current construction to build a new neighborhood called KombinArt. At least 50 low-rise buildings from the communist regime will be demolished.
4-5 storey buildings, at a total construction area of about 1.5 million square meters, that can accommodate over 21 thousand inhabitants, a shopping center in the Pazari i Ri style, two museums, and the University of Architecture campus (pictured) will be built in the vacated land.
The first to be housed in the new buildings will be about 2292 families that lived in Kombinat, whose homes were damaged by the November 26 earthquake. This group of families will occupy only one third of the total number of apartments. The rest will be sold to other citizens. Details for this part, including how the apartments will be sold and which institution or company will manage their sale, have not been made public yet.
The project was presented last Tuesday by Prime Minister Edi Rama, Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj and architect Marco Casamonti.
During the presentation, Rama, Veliaj and Casamonti stressed that the neighborhood would be rebuilt after being severely damaged by the earthquake. However, this project was planned in 2018 as part of the master plan “TR2030” to be one of the 5 new Tirana neighborhoods.
What the master plan and strategic documentation of the Tirana Municipality foresee:
The Kombinat area is one of the five projects to be redeveloped as part of the Tirana 2030 Master Plan, alongside Farka, Kamza, Lapraka, and Misto Mame.
For 2019-2022, the strategic documentation of the Municipality of Tirana, envisages the creation of the “Pole of Kombinat”, which will include “BID Kombinat, a public-private partnership for an improved physical environment and more business opportunities (Pazari i Ri model)”.
The master plan specifies that the municipality will launch a tender for the development of the area, and private companies can receive construction bonuses, depending on the quality of the project they submit.
The redevelopment of old buildings or private houses will be carried out via a cooperation between the municipality and the construction companies. It will be the municipality that will create the conditions to facilitate the transfer of property from the old residents to the construction companies.
However, the lack of necessary control mechanisms by the municipality may leave room for abuse.
Legal changes and Decisions of the Council of Ministers (VKM) that pave the way for the privatization project of the Kombinat area
Until November 26, 2019, the government seemed to have abandoned its plans for the redevelopment of the Kombinat area. However, with the damage houses received after the earthquake, Prime Minister Rama saw a good opportunity to implement his plans. Thus:
On December 16, 2019, the government approved a normative act to regulate the process of reconstructing the buildings damaged by the earthquake. It states that municipalities or the government have the right to determine “the conditions for compulsory development, as well as the development of new areas.”
They also have the right to decide on “the demolition of buildings and the development of the land where they are located […] due to the damage received in the natural disaster that endangers the lives of residents and the development of the area in accordance with the mandatory local plan.” .
“Forced demolition” of damaged buildings by the government, according to the legal act takes place when:
“[…] The building has been damaged by a natural disaster and can not be repaired or when it poses a fatal risk, according to the conclusions in the official findings or assessments […] and if the repair costs more than the construction from scratch […] even without the consent of owners “.
On December 24, 2019, the government approved the VKM for the procedure of drafting and approving the local plan and development permit by the Municipality.
The December 24 VKM stipulates that, after the government announces a new area to be developed, the municipalities will draft the mandatory local plan (PDV) within 30 days. This plan is then presented “for acknowledgement” to the National Territorial Council (KKT), a collegial governmental body chaired by the Prime Minister.
On January 30, 2020, Parliament adopted amendments to the law on building control, according to which the government will control buildings built more than 50 years ago – Article 4 (1). On January 31, the government announced Kombinat as an area to be developed and gave the Tirana Municipality the right to:
a) construct new residences or damaged public buildings;
b) construct and reconstruct public infrastructure and infrastructure of critical importance;
c) build in this area;
ç) intervene in any other way to reconstruct this area.
Thus, the combination of the Kombinat area redevelopment project and the post-earthquake reconstruction program could make space for abuse unless the municipality of Tirana fails to strictly implement transparency laws.