Panelák neighborhoods to be revitalized

Plans call for rebuilding streets, creating more playgounds

Over 40 percent of Prague's residents live in prefabricated panel buildings, or paneláks. The city is starting a project to beautify the areas between the buildings, starting at Černý Most.

The Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR) has a plan to revitalize the Černý Most area and is awaiting approval from city authorities, according to daily Mladá fronta Dnes.

The first section will be around the courtyard and school at Vybíralova Street. The cost is estimated at Kč 300 million and counts on 42 different measures to improve the area. The largest part of the spending, some Kč 180, will go to the redevelopment of the roads around Vybíralova Street.

This should improve traffic by creating five larger parking lots with trees between the cars. These should be completed by 2020.

A playground should also be built and a place for local residents to meet. Bushes will be maintained to make the way to the metro station more pleasant. A community gardener should take care of them on a long-term basis. “Either the city or people in the neighborhood would pay for the salary," said Milan Brlík, one of the authors of the IPR plan.

Prague Deputy Mayor Petra Kolínská (Greens) said that the city does not want to neglect the city's housing developments, and that this step is only the beginning.

The IPR has plans for three other locations, but only one should be as expensive as the Vybíralova Street renovation.

“Even smaller investments of tens of millions of crowns to create a community center, garden or playground can improve the quality of the public space,” IPR's Brlík said. IPR wants to find out which areas are interested in such projects. Large housing estates such as the Jižní Město and Modřany are under consideration for renovations.

Prague 5 Mayor Pavel Richter (TOP 09) said that the area around Chaplinovo náměstí at the Barrandov housing development could use revitalization. The area near the film studio used to have a statue of Charlie Chaplin.

Prague 11 has a park near the Háje metro stop that also could be improved. A stage for cultural events, exercise areas and a playground are among the planned changes.

When the first Prague paneláks were built they were planned to last for 50 years and then be replaced with more modern housing. This, however, did not occur. Planned recreation areas were often not built or were insufficient for the needs of the population.

The IPR says it is time to find out what additional features people living in the developments want to make the areas more livable.

The first panelák development built in Prague was Petřiny in the 1950s; the largest in Prague is Jižní Město with 200 buildings built since the 1970s and about 100,000 inhabitants. Paneláks with 1.17 million flats were built between 1959 and 1995 in what is now the Czech Republic. They house about 3.5 million people, about one-third of the country's 10.6 million population.

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