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Small multi-purpose complex mired in financial bog

Bratislava City Hall and the East-West Capital Corporation (EWCC) have finally signed a deal that decides the fate of Stará tržnica, the old market hall situated in the heart of the city on Slovak National Uprising square. The agreement binds City Hall to pay 26.4 million Sk ($800,000) to EWCC, and requires EWCC to finish the renovation in nine months.
Back in 1992, City Hall leased Stará tržnica to EWCC for ten years on the condition that EWCC would reconstruct the building and turn it into an indoor market. But EWCC ran into financial problems and could not keep the deadline for the completion of the renovation project, which had originally been February 1995.

Bratislava City Hall and the East-West Capital Corporation (EWCC) have finally signed a deal that decides the fate of Stará tržnica, the old market hall situated in the heart of the city on Slovak National Uprising square. The agreement binds City Hall to pay 26.4 million Sk ($800,000) to EWCC, and requires EWCC to finish the renovation in nine months.

Back in 1992, City Hall leased Stará tržnica to EWCC for ten years on the condition that EWCC would reconstruct the building and turn it into an indoor market. But EWCC ran into financial problems and could not keep the deadline for the completion of the renovation project, which had originally been February 1995. City Hall then decided to withdraw from the contract and do the reconstruction itself, but it too had to call a halt to construction activities soon after, this time because of unsolved legal matters.

However, City Hall's decision to cease building triggered lengthy negotiations between the City and EWCC. On April 26, EWCC agreed to withdraw from the previous contract, while City Hall agreed to fork over 26.4 million Sk, about a third of the money EWCC had asked for. "Expectations regarding this amount were different on both sides," said Milan Vajda, Bratislava's Mayoral spokesman. "The amount is a compromise from both parties."

No boutiques allowed

Stará tržnica consists of two parts: a 4,800 square-meter hall, and an administrative building in the back of the complex. The ground floor is supposed to have fruit and vegetable stands. "The rental price for one square meter will not be very different from other sites in the Old Town. It will be about 6,500 Sk to 10,000 Sk per year," Vajda said.

On the first floor, Stará tržnica will feature small stores and services. "There will be coffee shops, small bars and grocery stores. But it will not be an American-type mall, it will be a place to buy groceries and fruit and vegetables," Vajda said. "There will not be any clothing stores, nor any stores selling leather products. It will probably house mostly Slovak entrepreneurs, because foreign entities will probably not be interested in [selling] vegetable and fruits."

The whole project is expected to cost around 320 million Sk ($ ). Hydrostav is the company in charge of the reconstruction. "What remains to be done is some work on the interiors, mainly dealing with electricity, plumbing and some minor changes to what had been previously planned," said Filip Alexy, Hydrostav's project manager. "What [EWCC Director Rudolf] Mosny had planned was a little more than he could afford, and it was little unrealistic for this project. For example, air-conditioning was unrealistic because of the cost. We have to come up with some other plans now." Alexy said that it was "realistic" to plan on completing the building in nine months.

The finished complex will raise the value of surrounding buildings and give a more elegant look to the square. "It will definitely raise [real estate] price and increase the attractiveness of the place. We have evaluated the project very carefully," said Adriana Litomerická, the director of real estate company 1. národná aučná spločnosť.

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