Wednesday, 18 September 2019

LN: Website presents empty dilapidated Czech buildings

ČTK |
21 April 2016

Prague, April 20 (CTK) - A group of enthusiasts have been running a website that presents empty dilapidated houses in Prague and other parts of the Czech Republic, and the unique database now describes 936 buildings and tells their stories, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes on Wednesday.

"We were interested in seeing why some houses were falling apart in the centre of Prague," Radomir Koci said about the motives for launching the website prazdnedomy.cz.

The highest number of empty dilapidated buildings is in the capital city. Koci said the authorities of Prague's 7th district showed interest in cooperating with the project of which he is one of the authors.

Koci said the spa town of Marianske Lazne, west Bohemia, addressed his group and they helped the town hall document more than two dozens empty houses that are falling apart.

One of the threatened buildings in Marianske Lazne is the Nimrod boarding house, which was visited by British King Edward VII and Czechoslovak President Edvard Benes in the past. The boarding house has been falling apart since 2006, the paper writes.

The database also includes the mountain hotel Sokolska bouda in the Krkonose (Giant Mountains) from the 1920s. "A Czech businessman bought it and he wants it to fall apart, probably in order to be able to build something modern on the site," Koci said.

Conservationists would not permit a radical reconstruction of the hotel.

The online database offers information on the owner of the building, whether it is listed among historic sites by conservationists and mostly its history or story is told, the paper writes.

"We want to exert pressure on the relevant officials and the state so that they begin to deal with the issue. But we also want to press on the owners and keep asking them why they don't do anything about it (the run-down buildings)," Koci said.

He said the website may also help common people who would like to buy an empty house, if there is the possibility.

The dilapidated houses are a nightmare mostly for mayors of towns because they involve the risk of somebody getting injured by their state of disrepair.

According to the new civil code, the state may remove the ownership rights from owners who do not care for the buildings for at least ten years. This deadline will expire only in 2024, however, LN writes.

Lawyer Frantisek Korbel said the civil code has the ambition to find a solution to situations from which there is no way out now.

At present, the authorities may only fine the owners, but sometimes there is no contact with them, for example, when they stay abroad or when the owners stated in the official documents are totally unknown and it is unclear whether they really exist, Korbel said.

"One may impose the fines in such cases, but nobody minds it and nobody will ever pay them," he added.

On Facebook, the project of documenting empty houses has over 12,000 fans who often help with the research.

"If we cannot find a piece of information, we ask on Facebook and nearly always there is a person who knows at least something about it," Koci said.

He said the database will be upgraded so that it can operate on the same principle as the Wikipedia, to which anybody can contribute.

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