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News 06 Oct 17

High-Rise Boom Transforms Albanian Capital's Skyline

Prime Minister Edi Rama is getting closer to realising his dream of dotting the skyline of Tirana with a forest of skyscrapers - whose economic need is questionable, critics say.

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
DownTown Albania project. Photo: acp.al

The central and the northern parts of the Albanian capital are going to host several new skyscrapers soon, whose construction will start at the end of this year.

The new urban plan for Tirana, "TR030", which the National Territorial Council, KKT, adopted in April, opened the way for more multi-storey buildings in the city.

One of the first, whose construction is expected to start this month, is Down Town Albania, which will be over 35 storeys high.

This investment, costing 75 million euros, is a joint venture of two major Albanian companies, Balfin and Kastrati Group.

According to the companies' press release, the building will not only be the safest in the country but will it be adorned with a map of Albania on it.

"The exterior facade of this building will have at its heart a map of Albania, which will add value not only to the look of the building but also to the entire surrounding area," the advert boasts.

One of the most important new skyscrapers in the city will be Iconic Tower, a 350-metre- high skyscraper costing 213 million euros. A special law enabling its construction was passed in May.

Iconic Tower project. Photo: invest-in-albania.org

The investor here is Al Habtoor Investment LLC, from the United Arab Emirates. The tower is expected to host the Tirana municipal offices, among other private ones.

The landmark 15-storey hotel Tirana International in Skanderbeg Square is also going to expand. The construction of a new 35-storey hotel right next to it is expected to start as well.

Eyes of Tirana project. Photo: acp.al

Work on Eyes of Tirana, a towering 26-storey landmark building in the very centre of Tirana, will start in the beginning of 2018.

Vaqari residence project. Photo: acp.al

Alongside a new boulevard, two new 20-storey towers are also going to be built in the north of the city. The so-called Vaqari Project will be a new complex in a new area of the city.

Neritan Sejamini, editor of Exit website, which has taken a critical tone to the wave of high-rise constructions in the city, told BIRN that the boom in high-rises fulfills Prime Minister Edi Rama's vision of a city dotted with skyscrapers.

"This has been his constant idea ever since the time when he was the mayor of Tirana, and now he finally has the chance to make it work," Sejamini said.

However, he emphasised that there had never been an economic plan or study into the necessity of these skyscrapers.

"This renewal of construction in Tirana does not come from economic need but is a result of the visual taste of the PM, while not surprisingly the majority of them are being constructed by businessmen close to him," Sejamini remarked.

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