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Tbilisi City Hall Intentions for 150 owners of Eliava Market and Thousands of Employees

Eliava Market and its adjacent territory may become a scene of huge confrontation in the near future. Tbilisi City Hall plans to relocate this market and it is seeking mechanisms for resolution of this issue. The owners do not plan to concede anything. About 150 owners and thousands of employees stand behind the biggest marketplace in Tbilisi.

The Tbilisi land arrangement general design calls for arranging a municipal park on the territory of Eliava Market and its neighboring zones. According to the Tbilisi land arrangement general plan, over the past 20 years, in the center of Tbilisi, Eliava Market, which was developed on the left bank of river Mtkvari and its neighboring zones, poses a threat to the health condition of local residents and degenerates the existing residential and natural environment.

Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze says that the market will be relocated with the consent of the owners and Tbilisi City Hall is ready to allocate an alternative arranged territory.

Several days ago, Tbilisi City Hall announced tender for preparing the Eliava Market development plan. According to the document, facilities on these territories worsen and hamper road traffic, obstruct an access to the river Mtkvari. Moreover, the existing recreation spaces have lost their initial functions and there are high risks of soil and air pollution. All these circumstances threaten the health of local residents.

The municipality asserts that it is indispensable task to examine the territory and prepare a development plan. The document does not specify whether Eliava Market will move to other territory, but it notes that the plan is to maintain the existing functional variety, on the one hand, and enhance the potential of the territory for healthy, safe and equally attainable residential, recreational, industrial and other projects.

The research work comprises 3 key objectives: maintaining multifunctional character of the territory and its development, rational use of its land resources and identification of potential recreation spaces.

The research work is to identify  regulations and conditions for the territory development, prepare feasibility studies and determine its impact on the life quality of neighboring zones, describe land ownership forms on the territory, appraise the condition of the existing public space and analyze the engineering and social infrastructure, specify the residential stock.

“Functional zoning of the territory and development parameters for construction projects will be determined after the research process outlines the territories for construction projects and the territories inappropriate for construction projects”, the tender documentation reads.

The tender participant company must submit at least two variants to be discussed with customers and interesting bodies to select the best one. Under the tender terms, applications must be submitted through September 25.

The Caucasus Business Week (CBW) has inquired the position of businessmen and urbanists whether markets like Eliava Market should exist in the center of a city and if not, what should replace it.

Urbanist Lado Vardosanidze explains that a market like Eliava Market should not exist in the center of a city. However, another issue should be also considered – a multifactorial analysis should be made, timeframes should be determined when and how it should be relocated. The key issue is – where? Urban planning is to answer all these questions, he said.

The Market with similar functions should not be isolated from the city. It is desirable to arrange similar centers within underground station zones so as people had easy access, Vardosanidze said.

It is not sufficient to remove Eliava Market. It is necessary to re-cultivate the mentioned territory, heal the soil cover, because this territory is saturated by various oils, Vardosanidze said.

Moreover, private property aspects should be also taken into account. Accents should be made on recreational aspects, he added.

“Today Tbilisi has problem with development of the city center. I mean conditionally the Tbilisi version of Manhattan. Multistoried buildings are located chaotically”, Vardosanidze noted.

Businessman Mindia Gadaev says that two aspects should be differentiated in the mentioned case. First – what is better functionally and second – private property rights.

“This territory has owners and this factor cannot be ignored. It does not matter what we prefer and what would be better. Private property exists and this right is inviolable. For me, it is important what is acceptable the owners. If the agreement cannot be achieved with them, then what is our opinion worth? The City Hall may have to pay expensive price in compensation. Functional aspects may be discussed only after achievement an agreement with the owners”.

It is necessary to know whether the owners will receive alternative place or compensations. In this case, it will be optimal to arrange recreation zone in the place of Eliava Market, but this should not be carried out to the detriment of owners, he said.

Eliava market has fulfilled its mission, its role and function, like many other things in Tbilisi. For example, the so-called Marshutkas (minibus taxis), which played a significant role in 1990s, but today society requires other higher class and more comfortable transport, he said. Eliava Market has fulfilled its mission and the society needs other alternatives, for example, hypermarkets like Domino and Gorgia networks, he said.

Sergi Rusadze, one of the owners of Eliava Market, director for Didube shopping mall, explains that civilized decisions should be taken and private property rights must not be violated. Eliava Market should satisfy modern tendencies and meet the visions of the Government and the country.

“It should be noted that for 8 years Tbilisi City Hall has not approved any project. This issue has been stuck therefore. It is also important that the project should be agreed with everybody and acceptable for everybody. If the Tbilisi Council asks me to build Hong Kong, I will not. Bilateral discussions should be held at the council, where owners will be also invited”.

If the offered project will not be acceptable, Eliava Makret administration will apply to the court, Sergi Rusadze said.

“There is the world charter about protection of rights, which protects the rights of any person and company. We will go there if they oppress us. However, at this stage, under the ruling of Kakha Kaladze we do not feel oppressed. We are waiting what steps the new Mayor will take. As to the former Mayor David Narmania, we are very discontent by this period. He protracted projects on behalf of City Institute for 5 years.

“City Institute and Its founders chopped down the whole Mziuri and raised residential buildings. Sport Palace is surrounded  by these buildings and they are so close that neighbors can watch each other”, Rusadze noted.

Eliava Market is located on 180 hectares, were about 80 000 citizens are employed, he said.