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Dispute continues over Bratislava’s PKO

THE FUTURE of the PKO cultural centre on the north bank of the Danube River in Bratislava is at the heart of a contentious dispute between the city council and the Henbury Development company – which believes it legally purchased the land on which PKO stands and wants to demolish the existing structures and build a new multi-functional complex.

Demolition of the PKO building had started but was then stopped.(Source: Sme-V. Šimíček)

THE FUTURE of the PKO cultural centre on the north bank of the Danube River in Bratislava is at the heart of a contentious dispute between the city council and the Henbury Development company – which believes it legally purchased the land on which PKO stands and wants to demolish the existing structures and build a new multi-functional complex.

The PKO buildings were constructed in the 1950s during the communist regime but are remembered fondly by many Bratislavans as a legendary venue of cultural, social and commercial events. Building conservationists also claim that at least some parts of the PKO complex are historically and architecturally valuable.

In 2010 former Bratislava mayor Andrej Ďurkovský signed a contract with Henbury permitting the company to demolish the current buildings and construct new ones. However, the current city council elected in November last year claims that the past mayor overstepped his powers by signing the contract, saying that the mayor did not have the consent of the city council and that the council did not even know about the contract.

Henbury, through its lawyer Alexander Kadela, has accused Bratislava of deliberately misleading the company, the SITA newswire reported, while the city’s spokesman, Ľubomír Andrassy, responded that the city’s legal opinion is that all contracts with Henbury are invalid. Kadela then reacted at a press conference that if the contracts are invalid then someone must be held responsible for the damage caused to Henbury.

Most recently Henbury announced that it has decided to charge the city rent for using the buildings for their original purpose until the final legal status of the property is resolved. At the same time, Henbury pledged to donate part of the rental income towards cultural and charitable projects for Bratislava residents.

Henbury’s proposed project is called Nové PKO (The New PKO) and the company’s spokesperson, Marta Bujňáková, told SITA that as the owner of the land, Henbury will administer the current buildings until a future plan is agreed upon, adding that Henbury plans a building for cultural events as a part of its new vision but that it bought the land with the clear intention of demolishing the existing structures.

The city’s spokesman said Bratislava wants the land returned to public ownership and for the site to be used as in the past. SITA wrote that no acceptable compromise appears to be in sight and that a lawsuit will likely be filed by the end of April if an agreement is not reached.


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