Kakha Kaladze’s Weekly Priorities: TV Tower, Noise Pollution, New Year’s Love

Each week, the municipal government of Tbilisi holds a meeting at City Hall. Preceding this week’s meetings, Mayor Kakha Kaladze remarked on several topics of interest.

Kaladze opened the meeting by calling on construction companies to present proposals to develop alternative housing options for people who were affected by failed housing cooperatives projects or scammed by other construction companies.

“More than 3,000 families have been worried about this issue since the 1990s. My pre-election promise was that we would solve this problem. Concrete steps have already been taken. We will be the government of a city that will solve these problems and ensure accommodation [for those in need]. We have already selected specific areas where the construction of cooperative buildings is possible. We called for expressions of interest, but unfortunately, no company came forward to implement these projects,” said Kaladze.

Mostly during the 1990s, there was a trend for a small group of people to pool their money to hire a construction company to build them an apartment building or ‘cooperative housing project.’ Some of these companies took people’s money but failed to build anything, either due to corruption or bankruptcy. Now, Kaladze is calling on other companies to step in and build housing for these people who lost their money in such situations. The government of Tbilisi will give special benefits to companies who agree to this project, such as free land.

"I understand the construction companies- everyone has their own business model, but now we have changed our approach. Many construction companies are interested in these projects now, and are coming together to support the victims [of failed housing cooperatives] and offering City Hall various proposals. We are ready for cooperation. I would like to call on construction companies to present their proposals on the above-mentioned land. We want to put their proposals on the website of the City Hall where all the stakeholders will be able to see them. The winner will be the one that offers City Hall the most space to provide as many people with housing as possible,” said the Mayor.

The second issue to which Kaladze drew attention at yesterday’s meeting was the Tbilisi Modernization Project, which will be presented to the business sector in the near future. Within the framework of the project, 10 million EUR ($11.37 mln) will be invested and, most importantly, the full rehabilitation of the TV Tower on Mtsatsminda will be conducted.

“The Tbilisi TV Tower Modernization Project was also one of my pre-election promises. We ran a campaign ad on how to implement the modernization project of the tower. This project, in addition to complete modernization, envisages arranging a visitors’ center. The concept was developed by Estonian company Koko Architectures, after which we discussed several versions with the Cultural Council. Two versions have been developed and we want to continue working on what will be implemented,” said Kaladze. City Hall promised to put selected sample designs online to get public feedback. The visitors’ center and a proposed restaurant would be able to accommodate 300,000 visitors per year.

Kaladze continued, "The tower has not been repaired for a long time and therefore needs full rehabilitation. The project is quite important...for tourism development. Additionally, ...40 people will be employed permanently [by the renovated tower]. The panorama restaurant will be located on the first level of the tower, and on the second level, an open-air panoramic viewing platform.”

He also touched on the issue of stricter enforcement of noise violations, particularly in tourist areas. “Unfortunately, we have serious problems in this area,” Kaladze explained. “Tourist areas are critical. The population of Kalaubani [Old Tbilisi] is particularly concerned, and hotels in these districts are being affected. I want to address the municipal inspection - my categorical demand is that it should be regulated and enforced. Of course, we can have cafés, bars, even clubs, but the approach taken by these particular locales is unacceptable. Speakers are used outside, trying to beat each other [in attracting customers], causing complete chaos. No developed city has such.”

He noted that on Google maps, some areas of the city are already marked red, recommending travelers not stay there, which, he said, “is a serious problem for people who have invested in hotels. I repeat once again, we do not oppose it, but the situation must be regulated and brought into line with the law.”

Kaladze then responded to news on Tuesday criticizing City Hall for spending 2 million GEL ($750,000 mln) on New Year events and decorations. He disputed the story, saying City Hall will spend this year closer to 1.6 mln GEL ($600,000), and that figure includes other city events including Tbilisoba and 26 of May celebrations.

He went on to talk about the New Year events planned in the capital. With regards the traditional Rustaveli Christmas tree, whether the protestors outside Old Parliament would prevent it being put up or not, news is to “follow shortly.”

“From December 28 to January 7, Tbilisi will host a New Year's Village where visitors will be able to find new installations, great children's spaces, fairy tales come to life, children's concerts, day bands and evening thematic concerts, a Christmas market and the chance to taste different dishes. Numerous performers will participate in the New Year's concerts and no citizen will be left out of the opportunity to join in the celebrations,” he said.

The Gala concert is to be divided into three parts and spread over three spaces.

“Renowned Conductor, Nikoloz Rachveli, together with the national Orchestra, will present 40 famous film soundtracks and many Christmas and New Year hits. 170 musicians will perform and there will be space for people of all generations to come and enjoy the spirit of the season,” the Mayor said.

Finally, Kaladze praised his staff and the projects they have implemented in the past year, saying “the main driving force and motivator in doing all good and great things is love. More love for each other, our districts, our city, elderly, youth, people in need, street animals; we have more respect for our great heritage and uniqueness. I want love to be the basis for every new initiative. No more swearing at each other, cursing each other, but we love for ourselves and for serving our city, population and homeland. That's why our New Year's Slogan will be ‘City of Love.’”

By Samantha Guthrie

Image source: Tbilisi City Hall

13 December 2018 19:59