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Grand Hotel Bulgaria revamp project in violation of Cultural Monuments preservation regulations

Date: 05.11.2007

Grand Hotel Bulgaria is a cultural monument, and as such it is subject to special regulations and, therefore, all reconstruction projects are subject to the nods of the Ministry of Culture, the National Institute for Cultural Monuments and all authorities executive for the preservation of the cultural heritage of the Bulgarian capital.

This was the main message circulated by the Union of Architects in Bulgaria (UAB) at a BTA-hosted news conference on November 2.

The alarm bell, in the form of a declaration, has been dispatched to the president of the republic, prime minister, the ministries of regional development and culture, the Sofia municipality, as well as the investor of the project to revamp and expand Grand Hotel Bulgaria into a mixed-purpose complex, BT Development Services.

Several days ago, InvestBulgaria Agency, the local investment promotion authority, granted BT Development Services' subsidiary, Grand Hotel Bulgaria AD a Class A Investor Certificate for the 82 million leva project, to be implemented in three years' time.

The UAB chairperson Spiridon Ganev insisted that the developer circulated misleading information to the public by saying the project would restore the building's silhouette from the 1930s. “Rather, the conceptual design, as drafted by architect Pavel Ivanov seeks to rejig the style of a US building from the 1930s, which dooms an architectural monument to death,” Ganev said.

Konstantin Boyadjiev, head of Docomomo, an association which compiles and consolidates data on monuments from modernist times and “stamping the death certificates of 'late' buildings of historical significance”, said that should the project go forward, his association would be issuing yet another “death certificate” as the building would no longer serve as a cultural monument.

The UAB underscored that apart from lack of co-ordination with the relevant authorities dealing with cultural monuments' preservation, the investor is in transgression of Sofia's city masterplan and of the Copyright Act. While the first does not allow for the building's height to be increased to 10 or 11 floors as InvestBulgaria plans, the latter refers to the neglect of architectural design rights to the building, which at present belong to the daughter of architect of the structuralist line, Stancho Belkovski.

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