"THE part of Tbilisi is both enchanting and dismal. Its winding, cobbled streets, tilting houses and laced wooden balconies have a delightful, gingerbread charm; but decades of official neglect, widespread poverty and an earthquake in 2002 have taken a heavy toll. With one-fifth of the housing here categorised as slum-like, the need for restoration is urgent.Yet regeneration attempts have proved controversial. During Tbilisi’s credit-fuelled housing boom, some residents feared ruthless property developers would replace swathes of the town with gleaming office blocks. A law designed to preserve architectural heritage was enacted in 2007. But the large number of officially designated monuments, the limited availability of official funds and the commercial incentives of developers still make for hard choices.In 2008 the housing bubble burst, following the financial crisis and Georgia’s short war with Russia. This created new problems. Tbilisi’s construction industry, a major local employer, was decimated, property developers had around $700m of unfinished buildings on their books, and banks were saddled with toxic debt.In response, last year Giorgi Ugulava, the city's mayor, launched the “New Life for Old Tbilisi” scheme...."Continue reading at The Economist
Some pictures of old and new Tbilisi center (summer 2010):
New "Bridge of Peace" with Sololaki district and castle Narikhala
(Funny, this bridge even has a facebook-page!)
Rebuilt SAS. Radison hotel, former hotel Iveria, once full of refugees. (Compare with 2oo5!)
Restored houses between Narikhala and sulfur baths, tourist sight
Restaurant Kala, near Leselize Str. (tourist area with tourist prices)
Restoration is going on in Agmashenebeli str. (center east of Mtkvari).
Public financing covers facades only, though.
Agmashenebeli Str., yet unrestored
Sololaki, near Puris moidani (traditional neighborhood)
Little side-street of Leselidze str.
backyard, somewhere "behind" the parliament
backyard near patriate's seat, not far from patriarchate
backyard, Agmashenebeli str.
Backyard in the very center, the Tavis Suplebis Moidani (Freedom square)
near Saarbrückener Platz
One of the many (!) new multi-storeyed appartement blocks
Depressing architecture: Most inhabitants of Tbilisi live in one of the countless Soviet style buildings made with precast concrete slabs. (These here can be found next to the zoo.)
As you can see, public spending faces a dilemma: The historic old town consumes a lot of funding. First because an important part of the cultural heritage needs preservation, second because a picturesque old town attracts tourists. On the other hand side allocating the funding to the Soviet style apartment blocks (last picture) would certainly iniure to the benefit of many more people. (Mostly those who live in deprived suburbs anyway.)
Problem is that most apartments are private. Everybody cares as much as possible for their own apartments, while stair-cases, lifts and the entrance areas are in poor, sometimes very poor conditions. The rise of a certain "public spirit", caring about one's neighborhood etc., is still desperately needed.