Architects call them "undeveloped commercial parcels".
In the 1990s, the Chief Architect Office developed plans containing basic urban and architectonic conditions for construction in particular blank lots in the downtown area of Bratislava. The aim was to initiate new development in attractive commercial properties.
In the best locations, the city requires that potential investors run an architectonic tender. The parcels owned by the city are offered to investors for purchasing or long-term lease. In other cases, defining the legal status of a property and project development is the responsibility of an investor.
Some of the most attractive blank construction lots downtown are located on Hodžovo namestie. A new dimension was given to this square and the adjacent Suché Mýto with the Grassalkovich Palace - the seat of the President. Before World War II, there was a historical quarter in the lower part of the square. Almost 50 houses had to make room for the construction of the New Bridge road between 1970 and 1972. The new intersection devastated the urban character of this quarter.
A respectable solution for the square in front of the Presidential Palace - both architectonically and symbolically - is a tough challenge for architects.
There are several interesting blank lots waiting to be filled out by attractive constructions. In the empty parcels of lower Suché Mýto, the Slovenská sporiteľňa residential and office buildings have been erected. These buildings create a new street line of Suché Mýto, Veterná and Staromestská.
The city also took pains with the re-development of the commercial property between the famous Pallehner House (now the Creditanstalt building) and the Forum Hotel. The project of a polyfunctional building could return Suché Mýto to its historically tinier contours. The new building will include underground parking as well as modern shopping galleries.
Three years ago, the city bought the second half of the Astorka house from the original heirs to prevent its purchase and the subsequent destruction of the popular Astorka-Korzo 90 theatre. The city is preparing construction of two more storeys to cover the costs for the cultural functions of the building. The theatre will retain the basement while the former space occupied by the coffee-house 'Astorka' will be restored with original decoration.
An unfinished block of houses on the corner of Palisády, Panenská and Hodžovo námestie became infamous as a meeting point for the drunken homeless. Originally, the parcel was burdened by two restitution claims but was recently purchased by a private developing company. The prerequisites for a new construction here are rather strict and limited: the ground floor has to serve the public as a passageway as well as consider the subway entrance beyond the square.
The new building should be representative enough to fit into the Štefánikova Street line and fill the area around the Presidential Palace.
The last undeveloped commercial blank lot near Hodžovo námestie is located on the site of a former parking lot between Vysoká and Poštová Streets. The neighbouring lot was developed in 1996 for Ľudová banka's headquarters. Within two years, the development project will bring another bank headquarters with underground garages, retail and office space.
Milan Vajda is the spokesman for the Bratislava Old Town District Mayor. His column appears monthly. Send comments or questions to email@example.com.