Tbilisi City needs development concept
19 May, 2011
Tbilisi City needs development concept

Georgian capital needs a new development concept. The economic and marketing strategy of Tbilisi City as well as its general plan are already at hand but Tbilisi government still cannot make up its mind what kind of capital Georgia needs in fact. To shape out a new Tbilisi City concept City Hall appeals to the broader public to think of and participate in the creative process.

Tbilisi city works on its development strategy starting from 2007.  Its integrated strategy is actually

shaped out: Tbilisi’s economic and marketing strategies are worked out, the transport strategy is developing, and social development program of the capital is drawn in frames of millennium goals of Tbilisi. The World Bank disbursed USD 150 million to Tbilisi city hall for its development strategy project in 2010-2011. Holland-based IHS company won a tender for the strategy and is working with the capital’s municipality at the moment to make a diagnostic - analytical picture of the current situation. And this analytical process revealed that the city development strategy still lacks its key thing - the concept.

“What kind of city does Georgian really want? – it is still unclear,” Zviad Archuadze, Head of the Economic Service Department at Tbilisi City Hall, told Georgian Journal.

Georgia, rather its government has a pretension to make the country a transit and cultural hub in the region as historical tradition lays ground to it, sometimes it dreams of being regional financial or logistic center. And its capital where 40-50% of Georgian GDP is created actually must be in line with the country’s function. Tbilisi city hall’s understanding is that the concept of any city [and probably of the country] must be shaped out concerted with the society’s opinion.

“Do we really want to be tied to our geographical location and be a regional hub, or we want to be a modest ordinary city? Do we really want Tbilisi to be a financial center, or a cultural center, a tourist haunt; maybe we want Tbilisi to be an industrial city, or city of innovations and creative industry? What do we want? It must be shaped out through discussion with the broader society.”

To start discussion with the society the WB held a round-table on May 13, 2011 summoning representatives of culture, fashion and design industries. According to Archuadze, they invited people of art first of all because Tbilisi lacks big cultural projects. Tbilisi hosts a Fashion Week event for 4 consecutive years already, there are exhibitions and theatre festivals but all contribute little to the city budget. Creative folk meantime believes they have a big commercial specifically on tourists’ side.

To attract tourists to the city Davit Lortkipanidze, Director of Georgian State Museum, proposes to use Georgian ample historical heritage as much as possible including the Golden Fleece legend, and develop proper infrastructure connecting old parts of the capital with the Museum.

Maka Metreveli, President of Fashion Group, thinks high street development may contribute to the capital from both commercial and visual points of view.

“We want Tbilisi to be a fashion center of the region and invited designers from Baku and Yerevan and let’s see how it will be developed,” she said adding that development of shopping high streets will increase consumer inflow of tourists as well as locals. Researches show that 44% of money spent by tourist comes on shopping. But unorganized and scattered brand shops discourage rather than encourage shopping spirit in Tbilisi. Tako Chkheidze, a famous model, believes Georgian designers can develop fashion industry and go on export in the region.

Archuadze promises to muse over proposals. He finds  art sectors very potential as far as Georgians are largely disposed to art but many talented people leave Georgia to realize themselves abroad.  To escape brain drain Tbilisi city hall appears willing to help creative folk to find their place here.

“Competition between cities and generally - talented people,” he said.

Talks on Tbilisi City project will continue and the final strategy should be drawn out by the end of this year.

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