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Deconstruction of IML Building Was Ceased

05.10.2009
Ana Sheshaberidze

During the Soviet Regime the building was built for the Institute of Marxism and Leninism; later it hosted various institutions and last time the Central Election Commission of Georgia was working in it.

Representatives of the Union “Tfilisuri Hamkari” and Arab Company “Dabi Group” agreed to cease the deconstruction of the IML building at the public meeting.

This meeting was scheduled during the demonstration which was organized by the Tfilisuri Hamkari. Demonstrators requested to cease the deconstruction of the building. The Arab Company was not against the meeting.

The meeting was held in the Caucasian House. Representative of the Dabi Group Giorgi Seturidze presented the plan of the hotel which showed that only one wall of the IML building was supposed to remain unchanged. Despite that, the representatives of the Company claim that the façade of the building will not be changed.

Tbilisi City Hall and the Mayor Gigi Ugulava are responsible for the deconstruction of the IML building because the City Hall removed it from the list of cultural heritage. The discussion of the status of the IML building was led by Goka Gabashvili, former Minister of Culture; Mayor Gigi Ugulava also was member of the council of the Ministry of Culture. 50 architects attended the discussion and nobody asked their opinions about the removal of the building from the list of cultural heritage. “When the issue of IML building was raised at the meeting, Ugulava said the status of the cultural heritage was to be removed from the building; however, the participants of the meeting could not hear the explanation of Ugulava’s decision. Maybe it was political will,” said Architect Koka Amirejibi.

It is important to note that the status of the monument was seized from the building after a foreign company expressed its wish to purchase it.

“Tfilisuri Hamkari” connects the deconstruction of the IML building and deconstruction of the residential building in Tabukashvili Street (behind the IML building) with each other. The deconstruction of the IML building started several days ago but in fact the process originated when the residential house in Tabukashvili Street was destroyed. The huge interest of the government in the territory was demonstrated at that time,” said Lasha Chkhartishvili, member of the Conservative Party. He does not exclude the possibility of the corrupt interests of the government.

The project is being implemented through violations of the law. Regulation system aims to prepare regulation plan of the construction of the territory which exceeds 7 000 sq. meters. This system guarantees to estimate the values of the territory and what shall be protected in it. Tbilisi City Hall has no right to discuss the project without considering this plan; however, the City Hall has not prepared the construction plan and did not carry out the survey of the territory in this particular case.

The Law on Cultural Heritage of Georgia was also breached. The law aims to examine the historical-architectural value of the building in order to estimate how to protect the monument: whether it needs reconstruction, restoration, conservation or other. Koka Amirejibi said these activities were not carried out and thus the law was breached. Besides that, he thinks it is great mistake to construct such a huge building in Rustaveli Avenue because “It will block the road and hinder traffic.”

Giorgi Seturidze from the Dabi Group categorically denies the information on changing the façade of the building. He said only back wall of the IML building will be reconstructed since it is damaged. He admitted only one mistake of the Company; the back wall of the building was demolished without permission. Seturidze said the company is ready to assume the responsibility for that action. He also added that the Dabi Group is not responsible for removing the status from the building because when they purchased the building it was not monument.

Giorgi Seturidze said the building is damaged and deconstruction of one part of it was necessary. “The Dabi Group does not want to deconstruct the building at all,” said Seturidze. However, he could not provide the corresponding document to prove that the building was damaged.

Dabi Group applied to two foreign companies to prepare the project. They are Italian Companies “Pavero Milano” and “Hapuld”. Arabian Company is about to discuss this project in public and only after that the project will be submitted to the corresponding office of the City Hall for further discussion. The company does not hold permission on deconstruction of the building façade yet.

The construction of the IML building started in 1934 and finished in 1938. The project belongs to famous Russian architect Aleksei Shchusev who projected the Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow.

Five-star hotel “Kempinski” is planned to be constructed instead IML building. For the purpose initially “Kapital Vostok” purchased the building and then Arab Company “Dabi Group.”

“Dabi Group” has not done any investment in Georgia yet. They work in Abu Dabi in the Emirates.

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