Czech town approves plan to buy run-down apartments back from private owner, Romani tenants to be affected
Local assembly members in the Czech town of Sokolov have approved a plan to buy the partially derelict apartment buildings located above the Alfa cinema there. The purhase will be definitively decided at the next assembly session in May after all the conditions of the purchase have been investigated.
The town plans to pay CZK 34 million [EUR 1.26 million] to a firm owned by the Liberec-based businessman Alexander Kendik for 200 apartment units. The price has been negotiated over the course of more than three years.
"It's decidedly better to buy these buildings and prevent speculation about what will become of them," said Mayor of Sokolov Jan Picka (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD). The units in the problematic locality are predominantly occupied by members of the Romani community.
Many tenants in the properties owe back rent. Some of the buildings have been reconstructed by the owner, while others are in a poor state of repair.
Local assembly members are having the purchase agreement investigated in detail prior to making the final decision about the purchase, given the amount of investment it represents. Local assembly members Jiří Pöpperl (ČSSD) and Ladislav Sedláček (Civic Democratic Party - ODS) primarily emphasized the necessity of checking that the terms of the purchase are acceptable.
It is not yet clear how the town will make use of the locality once it owns the properties. A workshop on the issue held by university students has presented different options to the town leadership.
The most decrepit buildings will apparently be demolished and replaced by a much-needed parking lot next to the Alfa cinema. The other buildings could continue to be used for housing.
The locality has been a problem since 2001, when the town sold the apartment buildings to Kendik for CZK 10 million. Kendik managed to partially solve some of the problems with the tenants, but stopped taking care of the apartment units when his own health began to fail.
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