Tbilisi panorama project needs Improvement
10 April, 2014
Tbilisi panorama project needs Improvement
The Tbilisi Panorama project, a multi-functional complex supported by the Georgian Co-Investment Fund, needs a better feasibility study to get Tbilisi City Hall’s consent for construction. Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgian billionaire and ex-Prime Minister, is one of the major investors of the project. Due to high public interest towards the project, the Tbilisi Territory Urbanization and Utilization Issues Regulatory Commission set up in the Tbilisi City Hall discussed the Tbilisi Panorama project in an open session on 7 April. The Commission
found the project far from perfect at the moment to give its consent on the implementation. A full list of required papers for the approval will be sent to GCF by the end of the week.
The Tbilisi Panorama project envisages construction of four big multi-functional centers in old Tbilisi (Freedom Square, Erekle Squire, Sololaki slope and Sololaki Gardens). The project will connect the central and historical parts of Tbilisi by cable ways and oblique elevators which will discharge downtown traffic even during the busiest hours of the day. The total accommodation of the project includes 270 square meters [of commercial, trade, business and hotel accommodations] and the total investments budget exceeds USD one billion. 36 000 trees are to be planted to make the capital’s ecosystem healthier and state-of-the-art underground parking infrastructure for 1800 cars will be developed. During the project presentation on 24 March GCF management underlined that this project will promote Tbilisi as a venue for international conferences and attract more tourists. The project is completely funded by GCF but other investors are welcome too. However, out of all investors only Ivanishvili’s name is known so far. GCF keeps other names secret because they care about the interests of the investors.
Conspiracy theories trigger public curiosity and the non-governmental sector asked for more transparency, open architectural competitions and mandatory public discussions. On the other hand, some architects, art connoisseurs and urban planners received the project proposal skeptically and called it a rude interference in the historical part of the capital, a follow up to the ex-power’s policy who already distorted the old Tbilisi view. They believe the project is better to be implemented in some other parts of the city rather than in the historical districts. To respond to the public requirements, the City Hall urbanization regulatory commission summoned all interested people to participate in the open discussion of the project on 7 April where it revealed that the project lacks the necessary papers for construction in a historical part of the capital and important landscape area. Therefore, the Tbilisi government withheld its consent for now.
“More research on the possible impact of the project on the environment, town traffic and other technical-economic research must be presented in order not to hamper the investments artificially and not distort the historical face of the town,” Irakli Abesadze, Head of the Commission, said. The city hall as well as the audience also inquired after the names of all the project investors, which upset GCF management. Giorgi Bachiashvili, Executive Director of GCF, questioned the city hall’s curiosity.
“It is ridiculous that the city hall is asking about this. Does it intent to invest in the project or what?” Bachiashvili inquired. “The city hall must not take an interest in such economic details. Who spends the money, why and how much is none of the City Hall’s business. As to the pure technical details, they will be scrutinized during the meeting and we will answer all questions.”
Zurab Bakradze, an urban designer, called the project impudent and called GCF management to rather spend millions on the development of the capital’s sewerage infrastructure.

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