Erion Veliaj’s Clientelist Construction Sites – An Overview

During the electoral campaign of 2015, Mayor Erion Veliaj promised that he would put a halt to the distribution of clientelist building permits, but two long years later it seems that the building permit business is as booming for Veliaj as it was for his predecessors. A record number of new buildings are being planned under the guise of the new Tirana 2030 masterplan.

Let’s review the buildings announced or uncovered in recent months. Some are in the process of being constructed, whereas others have only been planned. This is only a partial list, and the new Tirana masterplan includes plans for a “polycentric” city that will award many areas of the city to private contractors for “development” in the form of public–private partnerships.

The construction site of the new national Qemal Stafa stadium. Photo © Exit.
The construction site of the new national Qemal Stafa stadium. Photo © Exit.

National “Qemal Stafa” Stadium

The result of an illicit privatization of public property, destruction of cultural heritage, and a who-is-who of Rama’s clients: AlbStar, Sfera Studios, and Atelier 4. The whole project is design by convicted criminal and architect Marco Casamonti, whose “vision” is also responsible for the destruction of centuries-old archeological finds in Durrës and the bankrupt carcass across from the Orthodox Cathedral.


Render of DownTown Albania.
Render of DownTown Albania.

Downtown Albania

Skyscraper to be constructed on the corner of Rr. e Elbasanit and the Lana, at the current location of the children’s park “7 Xhuxhat,” inaugurated by former Mayor Edi Rama in the early 2000s. The National Territorial Council kept this project secret by not publishing its building permit. The project is supposed to be developed by DT1 shpk, an unknown Albanian developer.

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Parking Space underneath Parku Rinia

In 2015, the Municipal Council of Tirana gave Taiwan shpk a 30-year concession to build a parking garage underneath the Youth Park in the center of Tirana. Building the parking garage would involve the complete destruction of the park, one of the last green spaces left in the center of Tirana. Nothing has happened so far in terms of construction work.


Bus Station Park building

Another green space in Tirana was recently sacrificed by Mayor Veliaj after allowing a private company to destroy a public park along Rr. e Kavajës. This led to massive protests by the inhabitants and violent intervention of the police.


Tirana International Hotel

The extension of the Tirana International Hotel has been proposed by Geci shpk, a construction company that from 2015–2017 already received 1.227.839.833 lekë (~€9 million) in government tenders. The design itself was proposed by Atelier 4, a long-term collaborator of Prime Minister Edi Rama.

The Eyes of Tirana skyscraper, architectural render by Henning Larsen Architects.
The Eyes of Tirana skyscraper, architectural render by Henning Larsen Architects.

Eyes of Tirana

The Eyes of Tirana, planned between Rr. e Durrësit and Rr. e Kavajës, is the result of an architecture competition from 2003, which was won by the Danish Henning Larsen Architects. The project will comprise “flats, offices and shops totaling 55,000 m2 with a 26-storeyed tower as landmark. Situated in the city centre the building will be the first visible result of a large-scale ambitious masterplan for Tirana. (The masterplan in question is the one developed in 2003 by Architecture Studio). The Eyes of Tirana will be developed by Edil Al-It, which project construction work to start in 2018. Edil Al-It, a company owned by the Dulaku brothers, is very close to Prime Minister Edi Rama. They recently won also the tender to renovate the Theater of Opera and Ballet, across Skënderbeg Square in the Palace of Culture. They are also the owners of TV channel Vizion Plus.

Architectural render of the building behind the Clock Tower on the right.
Architectural render of the building behind the Clock Tower on the right.

Building behind the Clock Tower

In a recent interview, 51N4E architect Johan Anrys divulged that there will also be a new skyscraper constructed behind the clock tower. Nothing concrete is yet known about this building, and the only existing renders date from the period of the French Plan.



Lake Park playground

The Lake Park playground, designed by Bolles + Wilson, an architecture company close to Edi Rama, and again Atelier 4, caused massive protests and signaled the beginning of the destruction of the Artificial Lake Park. Many cubic meters of concrete were dumped into the forest in order to create a pre-fab playground while all around Tirana green space was being destroyed.


Building across from the Faculty of Economy

Along Rr. e Elbasanit, another part of the park has been sacrificed to a powerful real estate developer, businessman, and Rama’s client Samir Mane. The design is, again, from Bolles + Wilson.


Olympic Hotel

The second phase of the Olympic Park construction in Tirana, on public property, will include an “Olympic Hotel.” The project is currently in the planning stage, and the Municipality is completely silent on whom the ground for this hotel will be “given” to. However, this is yet another encroachment on green space of the park.