Cosmin Smighelschi
General Councilor
Bucharest City Hall

24 June 2021

Bucharest City Hall is the central authority of the city, where all decisions regarding urban zonal plans, building permits and real estate regulations are discussed and voted.

 

How often is the status of the real estate market in Bucharest brought into attention during City Hall meetings?

This subject is brought up extremely often. Every urbanism related topic is directly linked to the general mayor - all urban zonal plans (UZP) discussions are proposed by him and voted by us (the councilors). Our main goal presently is to update Bucharest's general urban plan (GUP), that has not evolved since the 2000s - a very long time especially if we look at how much the city has changed since. By the end our mandate (2024) we hope to bring it to a new and improved form.

There is indeed a blatant difference between 2000 and 2021, both from an architectural and a technical point of view. What is the main vision that guides you while shaping this master plan?

These 21 years were characterized by a chaotic remapping process where blocks of apartments were built in already crowded neighborhoods, and offices and industrial buildings were wrongfully integrated amongst residential areas.

 

At the moment, Bucharest is defined by an eclectic urbanistic style, with heavy traffic and a great deal of pollution that affects all its citizens. Through an updated master plan of the city, we will define industrial zones, green zones, urban forests and residential zones, and include all of them in clusters.

 

The suspension of UZPs has been seen as an especially tough challenge by industry members - what was the reason behind this decision?

District urban zonal plans (all, except District 1) have been conceived in the past to simulate the update of the city master plan. They have been cancelled by court order because they were considered detrimental to investors that weren't part of the timeframe when these UZPs were first designed. Moreover, they have been deemed illegal because there were no green spaces included and no traffic studies properly completed. 

What I want to note is that the process is not in fact fully blocked at this time, investors can use the city master plan as well as apply for individual UZPs. By the end of 2021, developers and investors who have important projects should apply for these individual UZPs that will be analyzed and voted on as soon as they prove to be beneficial for the community. My advice would be to not get influenced by political talk, because the Bucharest real estate market is not in a standstill. Ample, profitable projects will be surely voted and authorized by councilors.

How efficient would you say the communication between the City Hall and industry members is? In what ways can they contribute to completing all these tasks in due time?

We are open to public discussions and are ready to debate and solve any challenge the industry might face. The General Mayor is the main player who facilitates early-stage communication, councilors entering the "game" only after these UZPs have been proposed by him. There are a great deal of emergencies that need to be solved in Bucharest and this is why it might seem like there is a communication blockage regarding urban zonal plans.

 

Developers could create more green spaces, schools and mixed-use projects with facilities that could decrease overall traffic in Bucharest. On our side, we have tens of projects regarding seismic risk on the roll and we are continuing the consolidation programs that have been started in the past. Unfortunately, the entire center of the city is extremely exposed.

 

Besides solving the problems we've already talked about, how do you imagine Bucharest transforming withing the coming decade?

I envision Bucharest as a regional megacity, but this can happen only if we are able to solve our problems with Ilfov and start aggregating mini-satellite areas that could release the center of heavy traffic. Brown-fields will be transformed into residential, office and retail zones and the face of the city will be shaped by creative industries and IT, that could attract freelancers to come and work temporarily in Bucharest while enjoying the local lifestyle.



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