Veliaj Plans “Olympic Hotel” at Lake Park

On June 4, 2017, Prime Minister Edi Rama and Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj inaugurated the first phase of the renovation of the Olympic Park behind the Artificial Lake of Tirana. In his opening speech, Prime Minister Rama announced that in the second phase of the project, an “olympic pool, and basketball, volleyball, and tennis fields” would be built.

Screenshot from 2017-08-30 13-35-42

But on April 10, 2017 the Municipality of Tirana signed a contract with an architectural studio at a value of 34,407,960 lekë (~€259,000) incl. VAT to do a study for the second phase of the Olympic Park, including an “Olympic hotel, olympic pool, and supporting services.”

The land on which this is supposed to be built is public property, so why would it be in the public interest for the municipality to spend public money to design a hotel, which is a private business? Unless, of course, Erion Veliaj privatizes the land on which the hotel will be built through a public–private partnership, as in the case of the Qemal Stafa Stadium. Such a construction will “give” the land to a private entity to “develop,” shield the further procurement from public scrutiny, and open the door to yet another case of corruption with public money.

Furthermore, the construction of the “Olympic hotel” is another construction project within the green space of the Tirana Lake Park. Mayor Veliaj was elected in 2011 on a platform to prohibit further construction in and around the Lake Park. In 2016, the municipality even tried to block the construction of an apartment complex behind the lake, planned by Gener2, and an offspring of the Lakeside Masterplan initiated by former Tirana Mayor Edi Rama.

By tendering out the design of an “Olympic hotel,” the Municipality of Tirana clearly shows its intentions: to dump more concrete in one of the last green areas of the city, to break its promises to the citizens of Tirana, and to use public money for private profit.