To the Chairman of Tbilisi Sakrebulo, Mr. Giorgi Tkemaladze
To the Mayor of Tbilisi Municipality, Mr. Kakhi Kaladze
Second open letter from public organizations and professional circles
We address you with an open letter to once again express our extreme concern and alarm over the large-scale construction planned on Sakanela Street near Mikheil Javakhishvili’s house on Elbakidze Street in Tbilisi.
This project, initiated by JSC “Silknet”, destroys the architectural environment of the historical development of the city and the monuments preserved in it. The construction, which completely alters the historical characteristics of the city, allows the dominance of non-traditional forms of development, which is disastrous for the historical part of Tbilisi, which is part of our identity and culture. Interventions of this scale will, in the future, give impetus to the implementation of other massive and ugly constructions on the right bank. All the above contradicts the legislation on the protection of Georgian cultural heritage.
The scale of the project and its incompatibility with the regulations on the protected zones of the historical part of Tbilisi have an exasperated society more than once before. We addressed the first open letter to the city mayor and city council at the end of 2020. The suspension of the project then raised the expectation that the professional argument we presented would become important to the city government and city council in the decision-making process. However, without substantial change, the re-submitted project planning assignment was still approved. According to the plan, the multifunctional commercial complex will be implemented by JSC “Silknet” through, among others, 4, 12, and 25 story buildings.
During the discussion of the issue, half of the members present at the City Hall Cultural Heritage Council gave negative and harsh assessments of the project. According to them, the project is “incomprehensible from an urban point of view, its scale, architectural solution, attitude towards the landscape, the architectural environment are unacceptable. The presented project not only ignores the peculiarities of the historic city but also confronts it.”
The project is also problematic from an environmental standpoint as well, as the core of the area in question is covered by a recreational zone and is dominated by large trees. According to one of the members of the council, “a single green strip of the embankment no longer dominates the surrounding area, it has been replaced by a perimeter development along the entire coast, which is foreign to the Old Tbilisi section of the right bank. According to the design data, the area is being leveled and placed in a single reinforced concrete cavity, which will eventually make a natural relief disappear.”
The members of the Board who approved the project did not provide any valid justification to support their position. There is an impression that the temporary suspension of the project only served to quell the public protest, and in making this difficult decision, the city government was rather addressing the interests of JSC Silknet and not those of the historical part of the city.
With this letter, we request that you, Do not authorize JSC Silknet to destroy the historical part of Tbilisi:
- Annul the agreed development regulation plan so that the project is not allowed to proceed to the next stages of the permitting process;
- Ensure, with the extensive involvement of professional circles, the preparation of a framework document for the area, which will determine for the investors the main development parameters and urban planning characteristics based on the interests of the historic city.
- Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF)
- Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA)
- Social Justice Center
- Association Green Alternative
- ICOMOS Georgia International Council on Monuments and Sites
- Blue Shield Georgia
- The National Trust of Georgia
- Society “Batomi”
- Guerrilla gardening Tbilisi
- Eco Center-Movement “Gavigudet”
- Neighborhood community of Digomi meadows
- Public Art Platform
- Ana Bibilashvili, architect, urbanist
- Marine Mizandari, Doctor of Arts
- Tsira Elisashvili, monumental artist
- Lali Pertenava, art critic
- Sophio Zviadadze, sociologist, Ilia State University
- Nino Inaishvili, art critic
- Initiative group “for the museum”