Ritz-Carlton won’t open near Old Town Square

City Hall has canceled leases needed for the long-planned project

The Prague Council decided to terminate lease agreements with the firm Akroterion, which wanted to open a Ritz-Carlton Hotel just next to Old Town Square. City Hall said the company did not meet the set conditions because it did not start operations by Sept. 19th.

There had been strong opposition from the public and from architectural experts against converting eight historical buildings into a large hotel.

The city administration terminated the contracts because the investor had not been able to put the complex into operation for 15 years. The eight buildings that were to be converted into a hotel have been sitting virtually derelict since the 1990s, though some have street-level shops for tourists.

Akroterion said it will respond after receiving a written statement from City Hall. “Akroterion did not receive an official written opinion from the city … on the termination of the lease agreements with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel project. Upon receipt, the company will evaluate the situation and decide on the next steps,” Akroterion media representative Michal Štefl said, according to daily Mladá fronta Dnes (MfD).

Prague will now deal with how to use its houses appropriately. Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) said the capital could turn the buildings into flats that Prague could rent to diplomats, for example.

The project to build a hotel had been stalled for many years due to opposition from the National Monument Institute (NPÚ). Conservationists had a number of concerns over the range of intervention into the buildings.

The planned five-star hotel with over 100 rooms would have joined eight historical buildings together. The hotel would have been called U Sixtů, after one of the buildings, In addition to At the Sixth House, the project included houses called At the Stone Bird, At the Hungarian Crown, At the Unicorn, At the White Horse, At the Black Sun, At the Stone Lamb, and At the White Wolf. The buildings are on Celetná, Železná, and Kamzíkova streets.

Akroterion owns four buildings and four have been leased from the city. The lease was supposed to last until the end of 2081.

The construction would have cost Kč 2 billion. In November, daily Hospodářské noviny reported that construction was to begin in January 2018 and the hotel would open in 2020, but that now seems to no longer be the case after this new development.

Akroterion was to begin reconstruction in 2014 when it obtained the building permit. However, the National Monument Institute (NPÚ) opposed the plan.

Over the last four years, the project has been reworked, a number of comments have been taken into account, but NPÚ continued to voice opposition.

The NPÚ is concerned that the residential function of the houses will disappear. They also opposed creating one large “monoblock” with unified features from eight different houses, which would destroy the individuality of each building.

The NPÚ also maintains that there are more than enough hotels in Old Town, and some of the existing ones may shut down.

"By creating another hotel complex there will be another suppression of the typical urban element in a locality already exploited by the tourism industry,” NPÚ’s Andrea Holasová said, according to MfD.

Online services for flat sharing have changed the shape of travel, and a building in New Town that was planned as a hotel has been converted to offices and luxury flats instead, for example. There was no longer sufficient demand for another hotel in that area.

There has also been growing opposition from experts over redevelopment plans that save only the historical facades of buildings but none of the interior elements.

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