January 3, 2014
Irish Try to Eradicate Ghosts of a Housing Crash
Nothing more typified Ireland’s roaring economy a decade ago than its housing market, which saw prices and construction surge. And nothing better illustrates the costs and complexities of cleaning up after the bursting of that bubble than what to do with the thousands of homes that were never finished or, if they were occupied, have proved to be substandard.
Other countries with similar problems, like Spain, are also dealing with the issue, but none have gone as far as Ireland, which is aiming to tear down about 40 troubled developments by the end of next year, with more demolitions possible in the future, officials say.
But in a nation that by the government’s estimate still has 1,300 so-called ghost estates and possibly hundreds of thousands of unoccupied new homes, the razing program is only nibbling at the problem. The pace of development was so huge in the 2000s that at one point, per capita housing completions were four times as high as in the United States. (via New York Times)

Irish Try to Eradicate Ghosts of a Housing Crash

Nothing more typified Ireland’s roaring economy a decade ago than its housing market, which saw prices and construction surge. And nothing better illustrates the costs and complexities of cleaning up after the bursting of that bubble than what to do with the thousands of homes that were never finished or, if they were occupied, have proved to be substandard.

Other countries with similar problems, like Spain, are also dealing with the issue, but none have gone as far as Ireland, which is aiming to tear down about 40 troubled developments by the end of next year, with more demolitions possible in the future, officials say.

But in a nation that by the government’s estimate still has 1,300 so-called ghost estates and possibly hundreds of thousands of unoccupied new homes, the razing program is only nibbling at the problem. The pace of development was so huge in the 2000s that at one point, per capita housing completions were four times as high as in the United States. (via New York Times)

December 29, 2013

Germany: European Central Bank Graffiti

A selection of the graffiti artworks that have made the ECB’s construction site in Frankfurt a worldwide art sensation (via Reuters)

December 25, 2013
London, UK
One of the Crossrail tunnels under construction, 100 feet below the streets of Whitechapel (via Telegraph)

London, UK

One of the Crossrail tunnels under construction, 100 feet below the streets of Whitechapel (via Telegraph)

November 2, 2012
Zlin, Czech Republic
A view shows a colony of Bata houses in Zlin, which Tomas Bata created as part of a “utopian” factory village for his workers almost a century ago. A world war and four decades of communism has taken some of the shine off Zlin and dozens of the red-brick buildings in its giant factory complex had since fell into disrepair. Now public and private investors are in the final stages of a decade-old plan to restore the area. (via Reuters.com)

Zlin, Czech Republic

A view shows a colony of Bata houses in Zlin, which Tomas Bata created as part of a “utopian” factory village for his workers almost a century ago. A world war and four decades of communism has taken some of the shine off Zlin and dozens of the red-brick buildings in its giant factory complex had since fell into disrepair. Now public and private investors are in the final stages of a decade-old plan to restore the area. (via Reuters.com)

March 16, 2012
London, UK
After five years of construction, the £500m redevelopment of the new western concourse at King’s Cross station is ready for its official opening (via guardian.co.uk)

London, UK

After five years of construction, the £500m redevelopment of the new western concourse at King’s Cross station is ready for its official opening (via guardian.co.uk)

March 10, 2012
France: Paris to trump London’s Shard with Europe’s tallest buildings
Paris will become home to Europe’s highest building after it announced it will build 1,059ft high twin towers that will trump London’s Shard.
The two skyscrapers will 40ft taller than the Shard, which is currently under construction in the British capital.
Planning permission for the French project called Hermitage Plaza - designed by British artchitects Foster and Partners - was granted by Paris officials this week.
The two buildings - which will house offices, luxury apartments, a shopping complex and a hotel - will dominate the skyline in the western business district of La Defense. (via Telegraph)

France: Paris to trump London’s Shard with Europe’s tallest buildings

Paris will become home to Europe’s highest building after it announced it will build 1,059ft high twin towers that will trump London’s Shard.

The two skyscrapers will 40ft taller than the Shard, which is currently under construction in the British capital.

Planning permission for the French project called Hermitage Plaza - designed by British artchitects Foster and Partners - was granted by Paris officials this week.

The two buildings - which will house offices, luxury apartments, a shopping complex and a hotel - will dominate the skyline in the western business district of La Defense. (via Telegraph)

March 10, 2012
Lithuania: Reform with a Bulldozer 
France‘s move to bust up Roma encampments and send their inhabitants packing caused an outcry across Europe in 2010. But in Vilnius, officials have been demolishing a decades-old Roma community with barely a whisper of condemnation beyond the country‘s borders.
City Hall says the destruction is part of an effort to clean up the neighborhood and stem drug trafficking. Critics say it’s a ploy by the city’s flamboyant mayor to win support for his fledgling political party before parliamentary elections in the fall.
In mid-February, Mayor Arturas Zuokas ordered the demolition of three illegally built houses in a Roma settlement and has targeted another 19. The settlement, one of two in the city’s Kirtimai neighborhood, houses nearly 200 people in some 20 plank-and-cardboard shacks. Nearly everyone there is unemployed.
The only public service the community receives is electricity, which comes from dangerously dangling illegal cables.
Inside the shacks, though, are surprising signs of affluence, including new televisions and tablet computers set atop wobbly tables. Parked along the muddy roads leading into the settlement are several new Mercedes.
In 2008, the city’s planning and construction department ruled that the houses there were built illegally and should come down.
“The municipality will do everything in order not to have the Roma settlement on the Vilnius map any longer. The Roma themselves agree that the conditions they live in are very adverse to rearing children,” Zuokas said in a statement after the demolitions.
The settlement, near the city‘s airport, has become a notorious drug market, but officials are determined to transform the area into an economic development zone, with the opening of an IKEA store this year as the starting point. (via Transitions Online)

Lithuania: Reform with a Bulldozer

France‘s move to bust up Roma encampments and send their inhabitants packing caused an outcry across Europe in 2010. But in Vilnius, officials have been demolishing a decades-old Roma community with barely a whisper of condemnation beyond the country‘s borders.

City Hall says the destruction is part of an effort to clean up the neighborhood and stem drug trafficking. Critics say it’s a ploy by the city’s flamboyant mayor to win support for his fledgling political party before parliamentary elections in the fall.

In mid-February, Mayor Arturas Zuokas ordered the demolition of three illegally built houses in a Roma settlement and has targeted another 19. The settlement, one of two in the city’s Kirtimai neighborhood, houses nearly 200 people in some 20 plank-and-cardboard shacks. Nearly everyone there is unemployed.

The only public service the community receives is electricity, which comes from dangerously dangling illegal cables.

Inside the shacks, though, are surprising signs of affluence, including new televisions and tablet computers set atop wobbly tables. Parked along the muddy roads leading into the settlement are several new Mercedes.

In 2008, the city’s planning and construction department ruled that the houses there were built illegally and should come down.

“The municipality will do everything in order not to have the Roma settlement on the Vilnius map any longer. The Roma themselves agree that the conditions they live in are very adverse to rearing children,” Zuokas said in a statement after the demolitions.

The settlement, near the city‘s airport, has become a notorious drug market, but officials are determined to transform the area into an economic development zone, with the opening of an IKEA store this year as the starting point. (via Transitions Online)

February 24, 2012
London, UK
Prime Minister David Cameron and the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy visit one of the many construction sites for the cross-London £16 billion Crossrail scheme (via Telegraph)

London, UK

Prime Minister David Cameron and the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy visit one of the many construction sites for the cross-London £16 billion Crossrail scheme (via Telegraph)

February 16, 2012
Stuttgart, Germany
German police remove demonstrators from their make-shift tree house in a park at the Stuttgart 21 construction site next to the train station. Several trees are due to be felled in the coming days for the construction of the controversial railway project. (via BBC News)

Stuttgart, Germany

German police remove demonstrators from their make-shift tree house in a park at the Stuttgart 21 construction site next to the train station. Several trees are due to be felled in the coming days for the construction of the controversial railway project. (via BBC News)

January 12, 2012
Spanish Banks Try to Build Their Way Out of Home Glut
On a weedy dirt lot here, lender Bankia is pursuing its answer to a banking and property crisis that has left Spain with a glut of around one million vacant homes. Its approach: Build even more.
Bankia and a local developer plan to build a 212-unit housing complex featuring a gym and movie theater on the central Madrid site where a bus station once stood. Construction begins early this year, even though sales of existing properties are practically nonexistent and only 45 of the planned new units have been sold in advance.
"The market is at a standstill," said César Cabal, a real-estate broker working with the developers.
The drive to keep building in a housing market drowning in empty properties shows the depth of Spain’s banking crisis. The country’s housing bust saddled banks with not just vacant homes, but also billions of euros worth of undeveloped land.
Yet rather than writing off the land as a loss and attempting to sell it, Bankia and its peers have begun selectively building on empty lots. In some cases there are buyers lined up but in other cases there aren’t. (via WSJ.com)

Spanish Banks Try to Build Their Way Out of Home Glut

On a weedy dirt lot here, lender Bankia is pursuing its answer to a banking and property crisis that has left Spain with a glut of around one million vacant homes. Its approach: Build even more.

Bankia and a local developer plan to build a 212-unit housing complex featuring a gym and movie theater on the central Madrid site where a bus station once stood. Construction begins early this year, even though sales of existing properties are practically nonexistent and only 45 of the planned new units have been sold in advance.

"The market is at a standstill," said César Cabal, a real-estate broker working with the developers.

The drive to keep building in a housing market drowning in empty properties shows the depth of Spain’s banking crisis. The country’s housing bust saddled banks with not just vacant homes, but also billions of euros worth of undeveloped land.

Yet rather than writing off the land as a loss and attempting to sell it, Bankia and its peers have begun selectively building on empty lots. In some cases there are buyers lined up but in other cases there aren’t. (via WSJ.com)

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