The changes are impressive, but the condition is still insufficient – summarizes the revitalization of Praga Aldona Machnowska-Góra, vice-president of Warsaw. Every tenth apartment from the municipal resources in this district is still not equipped with a toilet. And there are more problems. Therefore, the town hall has announced further investments under the new program. At the same time, it plans to limit developers’ activities so that they do not build in areas where there is a shortage of schools, kindergartens or green areas.
Until the end of next year, the so-called Integrated Revitalization Program, initiated in 2015, is still in force. It covers the areas of Kamionka, Nowa and Stara Praga, Szmulowizna and Targówek Mieszkaniowy and Fabryczny.
– We implement the goals contained in it as much as possible, but at the same time we have been working on a new revitalization program until 2030 for almost a year – said Aldona Machnowska-Góra, the vice-president of the capital during the Friday meeting with journalists. She said that it had already been established that the entire area that was covered by the revitalization program needed further repair. And it’s even bigger. – The delimitation and research work have shown that the degraded area that meets the statutory conditions to introduce changes there is almost identical to the area previously covered by the municipal revitalization program – emphasized Machnowska-Góra. Grochów and Pelcowizna were also identified as additionally proposed areas of revitalization.
In order for a given area to be considered degraded and then suitable for revitalization, it must have a concentration of negative social phenomena (unemployment, addictions, high crime rate, low level of security, number of blue cards and people benefiting from benefits, poor performance of children in science) and also in the following spheres: economic, environmental, spatial-functional or technical.
The deputy president also explained that the next stages of work on the program will begin only after the resolution is adopted by the Council of Warsaw, which may take place at the beginning of next year. It is then that the needs and necessary investments will be diagnosed.
Developers will not get “wuzetka” in selected areas
The new program is being prepared on the basis of the 2015 Revitalization Act, thanks to which officials are to gain new tools.
– This is, for example, the possibility of recognizing a housing purpose investment as a public purpose investment, which will facilitate the investment process. We will have an easier way of evacuating residents from buildings that need modernization, which has been our problem so far. It will be possible to grant subsidies to private entities for the renovation of tenement houses in the area of revitalization – enumerated Magdalena Młochowska, director of the Housing Policy Office in the town hall.
The act also allows the city to establish a pre-emptive right to all real estates located in this area. As Młochowska explained, thanks to this, the town hall will have a chance to buy land for schools, nurseries, kindergartens and health centers.
The second solution has so far been used – according to the town hall – by only two communes in Poland. It is about the prohibition of issuing decisions on building conditions (“wuzetki”) for residential investments on selected land from the revitalization area. Officials identified five types of real estate: agricultural land, industrial, recreational, railway and built-up areas marked in the land register with the symbol “Bi”. Developers will not be able to build, for example, in selected areas of Kamionek, Targówek Przemysłowy or Żerania FSO.
– These are tools that will allow us to prevent certain negative processes in the area of revitalization. They will be in force for two years from the moment of adopting the resolution – emphasized Młochowska. – We would like areas with insufficient social infrastructure, roads, squares, squares and green areas not to spill over with housing investments without proper land development – explained the director of the Housing Policy Office.
There will be one exception to the new rules. Marlena Happach, director of the Architecture and Spatial Planning Office, indicated that developers will be able to apply for an investment under the special housing act, commonly known as “lex developer”. – There is a possibility to agree on additional participation in the costs of education – she emphasized. This means that the investor will be able to build if, in agreement with the city, he erects a school, kindergarten or nursery.
On Friday, October 8, public consultations on the draft resolution concerning degraded areas and revitalization areas started. Meetings will be held on-site and online, and two consultation points will be launched. Comments can be sent at www.konsultacje.um.warszawa.pl until November 15th.
They live in apartments without a bathroom or heating
The Integrated Revitalization Program until 2022 is to cost PLN 1.4 billion. However, funds for the new program will be secured only after its framework is defined in the coming months. So far, inter alia, the Baj Theater, Konopacki Palace, tenement houses at Łochowska and Środkowa Streets have been modernized. The Targowa Creativity Center was established. The city renovated some of the buildings from the municipal resources, and is also investing in the development of the Praga Museum of Warsaw, local theaters and cultural centers. Revitalization also involves road repairs, projects related to urban greenery or the reconstruction of the track on Grochowska and Zieleniecka avenue.
It is delayed due to financial difficulties construction of the new seat of Sinfonia Varsovia, which was to be one of the key revitalization projects in Kamionka. The City Hall announces that a tender will soon be announced to select a contractor for the works. Inhabitants are still waiting for the tunnel at the Eastern Railway Stationlinking Praga North with Praga South, the chances of its creation are minimal. The list of expected investments also includes the downtown bypass from Wiatraczna roundabout to “Żaba” roundabout. There is only a small amount in the budget for this year for design work. The Różycki Bazaar is a failure, with new pavilions in its urban part. Doubtful aesthetics, the booths attracted neither traders nor customers.
There is also a problem with connecting buildings from the municipal resource to the heating network. According to the city hall data, in 2008 in Praga Północ only 9 out of 441 buildings were heated by the city network, i.e. only 2 percent. On the other hand, the state for 2021 is 56 percent of premises with central heating. So there is progress, but is the pace satisfactory?
“Gazeta Stołeczna” recently described cases from Brzeska, Ząbkowska or Targowa, where residents already have heaters installed, but still waiting to be connected to the network. In the upcoming winter, they will most likely warm themselves with electric stoves or black coats. Underground installations turned out to be an obstacle. Veolia planned to lay heating pipes near Ząbkowska in the place where old gas pipes were discovered. In order to safely prepare a new installation, the heating engineers would have to move away, because too close to them there is a risk of an explosion. However, this is not the case, so a thorough reconstruction is necessary. The City Hall announces that residents should have heating in the third quarter of 2022.
Another problem is the access of residents to toilets and bathrooms. In response to an interpellation by councilor Marek Szolc, the city hall said that 1015 apartments in the municipal stock in Praga do not have toilets (9.2 percent), and 998 still do not have a bathroom with a bathtub or shower (8.9 percent). Solving this problem is more difficult, because it is often associated with the need for general renovations. In addition, tenants have to be moved out for the time of work, and this causes further difficulties: on the one hand, there is a lack of temporary premises, on the other – not everyone wants to move.
As part of the current revitalization program, the implementation of the concept of the Royal Prague Route is also planned, i.e. renovation of city houses along Okrzei, Ząbkowska and Kawęczyńska streets. In winter, we wrote on tvnwarszawa.pl that councilors and residents cannot ask for the visualization of this project to be made public.
“The changes are colossal” but there is still a lot of work to do
– As for what happened in Praga, it is quite impressive, and at the same time it is an insufficient state. There is no situation here that could be assessed negatively or positively – said Aldona Machnowska-Góra. – If we think how many real investments and apartments are, and at the same time the processes related to the relocation of residents, obtaining permits, arrangements with the conservator, and we still have problems with the decree in this area, it is difficult to say in the context of the implementation of the task that was planned in the revitalization program that it was a failure – she added.
Jacek Grunt-Mejer, the City Hall’s plenipotentiary for the revitalization of Prague, appealed to see revitalization as a process.
– For decades, this district has been forgotten and treated as one where people who work less well were pushed back – he emphasized. – The city has been creating this problem for years, starting from the end of the Second World War and now it is very difficult to change it in a few years – admitted the official. – As a person who has lived there since childhood, I can say that the changes are colossal. I can also absolutely see that there are still plenty of tenement houses that need renovation. But looking at the pace at which it is changing, I suspect that in ten years’ time we will have an area that is already in very good condition – he assessed.
Main photo source: Office of the Capital City of Of Warsaw