Prague will convert hotel to low-income housing

Prague 11 politicians are concerned that plan will have a negative impact

Prague City Hall has approved a plan to renovate Hotel Opatov in the southern part of the city into low-income housing. Some local politicians and residents oppose the plan.

The renovation of the city-owned property will cost some Kč 550 million. The hotel will be converted to have 342 apartments, with 157 as 1+1, some 167 as 2+kk , with 31 of those for the handicapped, and the rest as 3+kk. The original design of the hotel prevents larger flats.

The property consists of three interconnected buildings. One has 22 stories, another two stories and the third one story. All are of a prefabricated panel design.

One of the low-rise buildings will have laundry facilities, a barrier-free cellar and a room for a clinic or similar therapeutic service. The second low-rise buildings have space for a kitchen and commercial premises.

The flats are intended for families with young children, seniors and people with limited mobility.

City Councilor Karel Grabein Procházka (ANO) told public broadcaster Czech Television (ČT) that the plan was not to create housing for the socially disadvantaged. Instead, it should attract a mix of people, he said.

City Councilor Radek Lacko (ANO) also said the mix of occupants would be diverse, and the buildings would not be a ghetto, as critics claim. The housing is aimed at people with a low but steady income. He called it hybrid housing and said the apartments would be distributed using a sophisticated methodology that will put a mix of ages and professions together.

“We will turn the building into a home for more than 300 households, returning it to life. It's good news for locals,” Lacko told daily Pražský deník.

Jiří Štyler, leader of the opposition party Movement for Prague 11 (Hnutí pro Prahu 11) and a former mayor of the district, is among those critical of the plan. He told Pražský deník that the plan was social engineering that would add to the existing crime and other problems in the area. He pointed out that there has been a problem near a dormitory used by foreign workers already, with several cars having been set on fire. Those incidents are being investigated by the police.

He was also concerned that the city had not consulted with local residents.

On social media, local residents also expressed concern, saying they moved to the southern part of the city for peace and quiet, and don't want to be forced to move again.

Experts on social inclusion also say that the current trend is to have smaller buildings so that the low-income residents can better integrate into a neighborhood, rather than putting hundreds of people together in one building. 

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