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Fight for Vake Park

By Levan Khutsishvili
Thursday, May 31
On May 28 Tbilisi Court of Appeals upheld the City Court's decision and re-ordered Tbilisi City Hall to issue a permit for the construction of the hotel “Budapest” in Vake Park.

The story of Hotel “Budapest” started on July 24, 2013, when Tbilisi Mayor approved a special agreement for the placement of the hotel on the plot of land located on Ilia Chavchavadze Avenue # 68, and for the agreement changed the existed regulations for this territory. By the decree of September 20, 2013, Tbilisi Architecture Service has issued a permit for constructing the hotel.

In December 2013, NGO’s “Green Alternative”, “Partisan Gardeners”, other activists and part of the society started demonstrations against the construction of the hotel, and additionally filed several suits in City court. The court dispute over the issue ended in 2016, the acts of City hall and Architect Service were invalidated and City Hall was ordered to re-discuss the issue. However, in turn companies “Graal” and “Tiflis Kostava” challenged the court decision in Court of Appeals.

According to the new decision of Court of Appeals, City Hall is obliged to re-discourse the permit of construction of the hotel. As Nino Gujaraidze – head of the “Green Alternative” said the permit of construction given in September 21, 2013 expired in September 2016, and for continuing the constructions, the company needs a new permission from Tbilisi City Hall.

The representative of LTD “Graal” Teimuraz Khonelidze said: “Company does not need a new permission for construction, as City Hall has not yet completed the discussion of application for extension of the permit submitted by the company in August 2016 and we will use all legal ways to continue permit received in 2013”.

However, Anano Tsintsabadze, representative of the "Initiative for Public Space", explains that, according to the information on the webpage of the Architecture Service of the City Hall, Tbilisi City Hall asked the company for an additional permit to continue the permit received in 2013, but the company has not submitted it and City Hall has not considered the request. According to the law, it means that the permit received in 2013 is cancelled and company has to receive a new permit.

Tbilisi City Hall has to make a decision about the new permit of construction. The interest from the society and activist groups is considerably high. They are against the hotel in green area. The position of the leader of the parliamentary faction “Georgian dream – for Powerful Georgia” – Bidzina Gegidze is clear. According to him, the faction has prepared the law about healthy spaces that will protect recreation and sport zones from this kind of constructions.

"There was legal dispute regarding the construction of a hotel in Vake Park. It is unacceptable and incomprehensible, why anyone would like to build a house, hotel, commercial object, etc. in Vake Park. This is our position, which we've stated in the legislative initiative, “– said Bidzina Gegidze.

Nino Gujaraidze said that “Green Alternative” will appeal the decision of the Court of Appeals in Supreme Court. Disagreement about green spaces between business and society is continuing, this time the focus is on Vake Park. Tbilisi City Hall’s position will greatly influence the processes.The question is whether tbilisi city hall will support the war of activists to save the green spaces or they will once again protect the interest of business.