WE INVESTIGATED Who wants to build a multimillion 3in1 facility in the city centre, why neighbours are protesting, and what the City says

Autor: Direkt Aktuelno Društvo
22 minuta čitanja

In the centre of Mostar, next to Zrinjevac Park, the construction of a Park Residential and Business Building is planned. As stated in the preliminary design, which we own, the construction of a ground floor with six above-ground and five underground floors with a total gross area of 29,488.00 m2, height of 25 m’ and depth of 17.5 m’ is planned. The plot area is about 3900 m2.

By: Kristina Perić/Hercegovina.info

It is clear from the project that the park centre would consist of three buildings, and it would be located right next to the promenade, that is, Zrinjevac Park. The most protruding part of the building (peak) would be 25 meters high, and even 17 and a half meters below the ground.

As in this part there are mostly family houses, but also valuable buildings from Austro-Hungarian times, the tenants want the construction to be harmonized with the style of construction in this part of the City, and the project be reduced. The owners of houses from Ulica kneza Mihajla Viševića Humski and Nikola Šubić Zrinjski who oppose the planned construction of three buildings in their neighbourhood called Residential and Business Building ‘Park centar’ sent a reading to the City of Mostar, which the owners of the house signed.

Tenants’ statement

In the statement on the construction of the ‘Park Centar’ (translation: Park Centre) facility on the location of cp no. 405/3 cadastral municipality Mostar II write that after reviewing the submitted expert assessment number SP / K-1- / 22 dated 16 February 2022, signed by Marijan Antunović, President of the Committee for Expert Assessment and Preliminary Design prepared by ARS Studio R d.o.o. Mostar believes that the planned residential and commercial building called “Park Centar” deviates from all possible criteria for construction on the site, and that the legal prerequisites for the implementation of this investment are questionable.

“The location is in the heart of the city of Mostar in the part where the residential buildings on the ground floor do not have more than two floors, while the conceptual design envisages the construction of a building with six above-ground and five underground floors. Furthermore, the complete area framed in the space consisting of the Rectorate (Rondo) – Promenade – University Library – Old Gymnasium – City Hall – Health Center – Napredak dormitory – MV Humski Street (Liska) – Rondo, is a historic urban-architectural part from the Austro-Hungarian period with Art Nouveau architecture and as such represents a valuable architectural and historical heritage of the city of Mostar. No building that was built after the last war was out of size P+2 because good care was taken to preserve this part of the city and fit into the existing urban framework”,said the tenants.

They point out that it is unbelievable: “that the so-called Expert Assessment Commission writes that the building fits into the existing architectural appearance of the space, although it is evident that such an assessment is absurd and indicates that this is a reckless devastation of the city centre with the aim of achieving astronomical material benefits for investors, in which city institutions help them by issuing unprofessional and illegal documents, and responsible persons become accomplices, not only in urbicide but also in the commission of criminal offenses.

“This ‘expert assessment’ does not respect the rules of the profession, nor does it respect the legislation governing this area, basic regulations or even the technical aspects that regulate the content of such an act. We completely oppose the construction of a facility whose dimensions exceed all professional, legal and rational criteria. We believe that the building at the said location should have dimensions that realistically fit into the urban and traffic frameworks of the area in question”, these are the thoughts of the residents of the surrounding houses. According to them, the object in question is devastating the space, and the protection of the urban standard has not been respected.

Tenants – neighbours who have facilities on neighbouring plots believe that the facility of these dimensions and purposes will irreversibly impair the quality of life.

“We believe that it was necessary to carry out the legally prescribed procedure for amending the plan, to include the professional and general public, public companies and all other participants who should contribute to defining changes in space. Expert assessments in the very center of the city with historical ambient characteristics cannot be used for individual intervention in order to meet the maximalist commercial requirements of investors. In 2010, the Mostar City Council decided to amend the plan for this coverage. This procedure was not suspended by any decision of the City Council. There is no legal basis for the Commission's engagement and ‘expert assessment’ if the above procedure is not completed. Individual changes and favouring investors must not become a practice, as well as changes to the plan on individual plots, and not in certain zones – scopes”, further state the tenants from Kneza Mihajla Viševića Humski Street and Nikola Šubić Zrinjski Street.

They add that in this case, it was necessary to enter the regular procedure of adopting implementation plans, especially for the narrower urban zone, that is, to end the started activity on changes to the plan in compliance with relevant legal provisions, and the views are that ‘expert assessment’ is reduced entirely to quoting technical data and elements of the conceptual design without any critical review of investor requirements, let alone compliance with regulations and rules of the profession.

They point out that they are ready for both administrative and judicial proceedings with the aim of protecting their own interests.

“The preliminary project envisages the construction of five underground floors with 428 parking spaces. Without entering into the safety elements of the construction and functioning of this huge parking space, the circulation of traffic towards Knez Mihajlo Višević Humski Street for this mastodon facility becomes absurd and realistically unsustainable. This is another argument for opposing the construction of such a facility, which would inevitably endanger the quality of life at the existing location and devalue the compensation for convenience (rent) paid when obtaining building permits for the facilities of current neighbours, and tenants. In the legal sense, there is no possibility for the Commission to determine the resolution in the administrative procedure of any element related to the issuance of urban consent. It is aware that the traffic connection of such a facility with 428 parking spaces does not meet even the minimum standards, so in point 9 it states that car and pedestrian access will be the subject of a special administrative procedure. It is questionable whether there are valid firefighting accesses defined in accordance with the Ordinance on firefighting accesses and passages for facilities of this height”, it is further stated in the statement of the tenants.

They fear that the excavation of the underground floor of their house could be shaken, stating that their quality of life is endangered and limited by reducing sun exposure, and that the building is not far enough from the neighbouring ones.

They request that the Institute for the Protection of Cultural and Historical Heritage of the HNC also comment on this project, bearing in mind that it is the centre of the city of Mostar with historical urban and architectural features, where the petition of citizens submitted under the title “Ambient ensemble of Rondo in Mostar” no. 09-35-179 / 2007-1 dated 10 October 2007. They believe that with its “expert assessment” the Commission violated the laws and regulations governing interventions in space.

City of Mostar about the project – all by law

In the City, on the other hand, they claim completly diametrically opposite, among other things, that construction is possible here, the neighbours are involved in the whole procedure, and the Commission gave a legal assessment.

By inspecting the valid spatial planning documents, namely the spatial plan of the Municipality of Mostar (“Official Gazette of the Municipality of Mostar” No. 11/90, “Official Gazette of the City of Mostar” No. 7/09, 16/10 and 11/12), it was determined that the construction plot on which the requested intervention is planned is located in the zone of the central city function with the established construction regime of the first degree (R1), where construction is carried out in accordance with the Regulatory Plan or Urban Project (detailed plans). As a detailed planning document (Regulatory Plan or Urban Project) has not been adopted for this site, in accordance with Article 49 of the Law on Physical Planning (Official Gazette of Herzegovina-Neretva County No. 4/04 and 4/14), construction is approved on the basis of expert assessment expert evaluation committee”, are the answers of the Department of Urbanism of the City of Mostar.

They remind that the mentioned article of the Law prescribes that the basis for issuing the urban consent are the spatial planning documents provided for in Articles 8 and 9 of this Law.

If the spatial planning documents referred to in paragraph 2 of this Article have not been adopted, the Ministry or the service for the administration of local self-government units responsible for spatial planning shall issue a decision on urban consent based on the expert assessment of the commission appointed by the County Assemblythat is, the representative body of the local self-government unit or the expert assessment of the organization authorized by these bodies to give the expert assessment. The commission, that is, the organization referred to in paragraph 3 of this Article shall check whether the request is in accordance with the spatial planning documents of the wider area, laws that directly or indirectly regulate relations in space and regulations adopted on the basis of those laws. The expert assessment referred to in paragraph 3 of this Article contains all the elements necessary for determining the urban-technical and other conditions of construction and use of the building, or performing other interventions in the area”, they said.

They further state that the Expert Commission pursuant to Art. 49 of the Law on Physical Planning (Official Gazette of the Herzegovina-Neretva County No. 4/04 and 4/14), Article 3, paragraph 1, Decisions of the High Representative on the Establishment of the Commission for Expert Assessments (“Official Gazette of the City of Mostar” No. 15/06), Art.2. Article 3 Decisions of the City Council on the appointment of the expert commission (“Official Gazette of the City of Mostar” No. 18/21) at the session held on February 11, 2022. brought a conclusion and an expert assessment for the construction of a residential and commercial building on the site.

“The commission, composed exclusively of experts in the field of technical sciences, and persons actively involved in practical activities, issued a positive expert assessment for the issuance of urban consent according to the submitted conceptual design, which is in line with the above elements for expert assessment… Everything is regulated in detail by the above assessment. It was adopted considering the entire space, traffic solution, stationary traffic solution, as well as the building itself, which is designed to fit into the existing architectural environment, and bearing in mind that it is being built in the zone where this construction is allowed”, they state in the Department of Urbanism of the City of Mostar.

They also point out that the neighbours are involved in the procedure of giving consent with the provision of complete project documentation (copy of the expert assessment and Preliminary design on CD), and an invitation to a meeting where the entire project was presented by the designer. At the meeting, they had the opportunity to ask questions, and the answers were given with special reference to each of the neighbouring plots.

Also, all of them commented in writing within the given additional deadline, which was again sent to the Commission for consideration and issuance of the Expert Opinion. They are asked whether the owners of the buildings across from the promenade were asked for their opinion, the owners of the buildings in the park themselves said that the neighbours on the opposite side of Nikola Šubić Zrinjski Street were also included.

The city claims the Park Centre fits

Asked how the 25-meter-high building fits into the environment (there are a maximum of three floors in the vicinity of the Austro-Hungarian house), they note that the building consists of 3 blocks.

The two blocks, which are physically separated, following the rhythm of the street, have a height of 15.90 m, and they are positioned on the street facade towards Nikola Šubić Zrinjski Street (Lenin's Promenade) and thus are the same height as all buildings in the street, and are much lower than some. The part that is 25 m high is located on 1/3 of the building, oriented towards Kneza Mihajla Viševića Humskog Street and 30 m away from the building on the contact neighbouring plot, which meets all legal standards and urban parameters and criteria”, said the Department for Urbanism of the City of Mostar.

Asked whether nearby houses, some of them centenarians, would be shaken by the fact of digging 17m underground, they state that it is unfounded to put in the context of construction safety for the surrounding existing facilities in the era of modern construction technology, bearing in mind that geomechanical soil testing and geomechanical study are an integral part of the project documentation for obtaining a permit.

When asked whether this building will disturb the architectural harmony of this part of the city, given that it is slightly lower than Mepas, they answered that these two buildings, ie the centre, cannot be compared.

“In the case of the newly designed residential and business building, the gross area is less than 29,000 m2 and the number of storeys is P+3 (15.90 m) in 2/3 of the building and 1/3 of the building is P+6 (25.0 m). The degree of construction of the subject plot is 0.49 “, they state further.

They emphasize that along with the project documentation, it was submitted through expert analyzes of physical space, and knowledge of its meaning and peculiarities, which preceded the development of the conceptual design itself.

“Guidelines for the decision-making of the conceptual design included assessments of the cultural, inherited and historical importance of the environment, as well as its general attractiveness and the degree of visual dominance. Analyzes have confirmed that the visual opposition of the object made a meaningful move, which is completely different from the notion of ignoring existing objects. Establishing a sense of visual continuity does not mean embalming the neighbourhood at the same time. Bringing diversity, innovation and a sense of change are possible processes within the framework of consistency and visual tradition”, states the City of Mostar.

Relocation of Liska Cemetery

The most delicate part of this story is certainly the relocation of Liska harem/cemetery which was mentioned in the context of construction in this part, but the City claims that it is not necessary, but that the reconstruction of the road is necessary.

“The cemetery (harem) in Kneza MV Humski Street does not represent a spatial barrier for the construction of the facility. Minimal interventions are needed in addressing the infrastructure standards that the City needs to provide regardless of this project. You are witnesses that on that part of the secondary road we do not have a two-lane road with a sidewalk, which is one of the elements of the Expert Assessment. The city has initiated a special procedure for issuing permits for the reconstruction of that part of the street, which is a prerequisite for issuing permits for the said residential and business building”, said the Department of Urbanism of the City of Mostar.

Who are the investors

Behind the project solution, the investor is the company Niving. According to the Register of Business Entities, the founders of this company are:

The same persons are in the founding and governing structure of Ataca. We asked Miro Musa what the company's plans are at the location in question, as well as whether the project has the support of neighbours.

“Thank you very much for your interest and questions, and I, as an investor, have for many years had the aspiration to build a facility with my partners that will be fully harmonized at the professional level. Since we have been operating at the regional level for years with absolute respect for all legal provisions, we are guided by the same principle in this entire process. Thus, in the first phase, we hired a professional team and profession to develop a preliminary design and in the second phase we sent the final project to the Department of Urbanism and Construction and are waiting for the response of the profession for the same”, he said briefly, adding that they hope that it will finally be possible to build the said facility in absolute compliance with all urban regulations, which has been our desire and interest from the very beginning.

How things stand

At the location in question, only the spatial plan is in force, the regime is R1, and the development of a regulatory plan is mandatory. The plan was drafted and withdrawn from the Council in 2012 and has not been returned. The commission can give an opinion in the technical part, but consent and permits will not be able to be issued without the consent of the neighbours. And they are against the construction, at least to this extent, which ultimately means that a compromise will have to be found for the Park Centar in terms of reducing the project.

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