Public and private sector join efforts to bring Karlin back to life

Karlin, photo: CTK

The Prague district of Karlin became one of the symbols of the devastating floods that hit the Czech Republic last August. In some parts of the district water levels reached the first floors of houses, destroying flats, street level offices and roads. The city of Prague, the Czech government and the private sector have now joined efforts to renovate and revitalise the district. As they say, they want to use the challenge of nature to make Karlin a beautiful and prosperous area

Karlin, photo: CTK
Although the metro is back in operation - the stations being cleaner and shinier than before the floods - the natural disaster that hit Karlin eight months ago is still apparent. Buildings are bare of plaster up to the first floor, and bricks and other building material lie all over the place, clouds of dust filling your nostrils. The main road that leads through the district remains closed to all traffic as the sewage system that stretches underneath collapsed after the floods and is still being renovated. In some areas you see more construction workers than ordinary citizens, and instead of cars you see bulldozers, trucks and diggers.

Karlin is still in need of extensive investment that has to be shared by both the public and private sector. The city of Prague and the Czech government have joined efforts with a consortium of private investors - called Investors for Prague 8 - in order to bring Karlin back to life and prosperity. The government, together with the city of Prague, have set out five priorities for the redevelopment of Karlin. Prague Mayor Pavel Bem:

Karlin, photo: CTK
"First of all flood-protection measures, number two: water, power and telecommunication lines, number three: transport infrastructure, number four: housing and lastly small entrepreneurship and business support. The city of Prague has assessed that for these five categories it would need approximately 13 billion crowns. We don't expect the state to give us the whole amount but I believe the government will not leave Prague and Karlin in the cold. Without help from the state we could not bear the burden."

The representatives of the public sector are aware that, to attract private investors, they need to create favourable conditions, prepare the infrastructure, take care of public spaces and, in the case of Karlin, make it a safe area for private investment. Minister for Regional Development Pavel Nemec:

"These investments have to be covered by the public sector. Private investors don't care whether the costs are covered by the city of Prague or the government. The state accepts its responsibility and the government and the Ministry for Regional Development will certainly not leave Prague and Karlin in the cold."

After suffering an ordeal last August and enduring the winter in provisional conditions, the district of Karlin now stands an unprecedented chance. From a once dirty industrial district - always in the shade of the beautiful city centre - it could change into a pretty and prosperous residential and commercial area that Prague can be proud of.