The city councillors agreed on prolonging the rental of the plots under the embassy on Hviezdoslavovo Square until August 15, 2019. The condition, however, is that the embassy will pay €1 per square metre per day, up from the current €0.03 per year. Since it rents some 1,300 square metres, the income to the city coffers may increase by €481,000 a year, the TASR newswire reported.
The current lease, signed in 2005, will expire in mid-August, 2016. Though the embassy revealed its plans to move to new premises in spring 2014 as the current buildings do not meet the security criteria, it still has not found a new locality. It said at the time that the process may last several years, the SITA newswire wrote.
The embassy originally asked the city council to prolong the current lease until 2021, with the possibility to extend it by an additional five years. It now has 60 days to sign the new amendment to the deal; otherwise it will not be valid. Part of the new agreement is that it may prolong the lease by another two years, but only if the embassy submits a valid construction permit to build the new premises at least two months before the lease expires. In such case the embassy will pay the original €0.03, TASR wrote.
During the discussion about prolonging the rental agreement, some councillors criticised the embassy for the security fence surrounding it, saying it harms the image of the whole historical square, while others reproached it for insufficient activity regarding relocation.
The embassy, however, already has some six sites where it may consider moving, said US Chargé d’Affaires Liam Wasley.
“On one hand we are very grateful for prolonging the lease,” Wasley said, as quoted by TASR. “On the other hand, we were surprised by the new rent as currently our budget does not count with this sum.”
18. Jul 2016 at 5:30 | Compiled by Spectator staff