The Quarterly '96
April - June
The results of infrastructure works currently underway in the BCD are beginning to surface and become more apparent to the public, as tunnels and underpasses are completed .
Following the March completion of the underpass facing the phoenicia Hotel, both the George Haddad Street underpass and Riad El Solh square tunnel are now almost ready to welcome traffic.
About 90% of all networks ( power, telecommunications and water) have been completed in the Allenby-Foch area; 70 % in the Saifi and 65% in the Bachoura areas. About 90%of the culvert works, extending along port Street to Fakherdinne Street near the phoenicia Hotel, have been completed.Works have also started on the storm water culverts in George Haddad street ,and Debbas Square at the Bechara Khoury Street intersection.
In order to provide motorists and pedestrians with a comfortable, attractive and safe environment, SOLIDERE will introduce two lighting designs in the BCD.
1.One design will be specific to main streets, the ring road , roundabouts and tunnels.
2.The other will be specific to secondary streets, residential and pedestrian areas and the souks.
For the first option, attractive and highly efficient technical lighting units that minimize glare, provide homogeneous illumination and save energy have been chosen for use on main thoroughfares.
As for the second option, elegant lighting units and ornamented poles will be used to add beauty to the souks, as well as the residential and pedestrian areas of the city center . The new light posts will be similar in design to those which used to ornament the streets of Beirut in the early decades of the 20th century .The use of traditional styles associated with Beirut is meant to protect and revive the historical character of the city.
With the process of recuperation of standing building by former property right holders almost completed, restoration works have now been launched throughout the BCD.
Currently, there are 69 restoration work sites in the Central District, all of which will be completed within two years in accordance with SOLIDERE guidelines .These work sites will revive the historic and cultural heritage of the BCD, and reinvigorate its quarters.
SOLIDERE has also approved technical briefs for the restoration of 65 other building and their owners are in the process of obtaining the required permits from the Municipality to start restoration works.
SOLIDERE shareholders met in a General Assembly on June 29, in both ordinary and extraordinary sessions and took the following decisions:
- Quorum requirements-The assembly amended the requirements so that on the third call for a meeting quorum is automatically established by those present;
- Stock Split -The assembly agreed to a stock split to facilitate trading and place the value of the share in line with national and international trading operations .The par value of the share becomes $10 after each former share is divided into 10 new shares;
The two decisions require approval from the Council of Ministers before they become effective.
- Approval of the balance sheets and distribution of a $2 dividend per share to shareholders
SOLIDERE has adopted a business plan for the period 1996-1999 whose strategy is to revitalize the BCD by achieving a critical mass of 1.35 million square meters of occupied space by the end 1999. The four-years plan stipulates the following:
These targets seek to establish the following :
1-The creation of a unique urban product by:
2-Generating the maximum diversity of land uses and activities (including public facilities) in all BCD areas and encouraging the creation of residential space affordable to a wide clientele;
3-Helping create a strong rental market that allows for a diversity of supply in the BCD;
4-Widening the number of operators and investors in the BCD market and encouraging long-term investments;
5-Achieving the main target of creating normal life in the traditional BCD by developing the necessary strong markets.
The price of SOLIDERE shares traded in the Secondary Market declined during the second quarter of the years, but recovered toward the end of the period ,with "A" shares stabilizing at $112.00 and "B" shares at $113.50.
On the occasion of its second anniversary on June 1994, the first vice governor of the Central Bank , Dr.Nasser Saidi praised the Secondary Market for completing another year of successful trading . Dr.Saidi said the market had further improved its daily performance by introducing two fixings a day instead of one.
SOLIDERE is currently developing an office building on Riad El Solh that will house the headquarters of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission on Western Asia (ESCWA) . The building is characterized by its Location on the southern entrance of the BCD , adjacent to Riad El Solh street -known as Beirut's banking street , and the Grand Serail .The building will also be close to the souks of Beirut,which also under reconstruction,the port and the airport, cultural and recreational centers and the Saifi residential area.
The building will consist of 14 floors, six of them underground offering parking space for 500 cars. There will be three conference auditoriums equipped with multi-Lingual simultaneous translation facilities, in addition to a cafeteria on the first underground level,and a restaurant and shops on the ground floor.
A total of 8 elevators will service the building , 4 of them dedicated to the upper floors ,3 to the lower floors and one to general services.
The building will be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities currently associated with "intelligent" and highly -efficient office building .Computers will regulate air conditioning, heating , lighting, telecommunications, power generators and television facilities.
Fire safety design and equipment will also provide a high degree of safety to the occupants.
The elegant architecture of the building allows angles, reinforcing the central court garden that will add to its charm and sense of tranquility.
SOLIDERE has signed a $229-235 million agreement with the French company Bouyges for the construction of the sea defense lines in the Normandy sector of the BCD .The $6 million difference involves an option , available to SOLIDERE , on the design and construction of the eastern marina. The entire project will be complete in 30 months.
The agreement stipulates the construction of a one-kilometer long sea defense line to project 60 hectares of reclaimed land .This project is the most important single component of the infrastructure works and will involve the construction of a bed rock about 800 meter long .100 meter wide and seven meters from the surface of the water. The second line of defense will consist of 80 cubic caissons ,17 meters wide placed at 22 meters of depth.
The empty caissons will be built on shore and then floated to their positions where they will be pumped full with sand.
On the shore, three pedestrian pathways, on three different levels, will extend for one kilometer , from the bay of St.Georges to the first basin of the port. At both ends, marinas will be constructed with a total capacity for about 1,000 yachts and boats ,one to the west facing the St. Georges Hotel and a second one to the east facing the first basin of the port.
This unique project ,utilizing modern technology and engineering ,will make possible the reclamation of more than 600,000 square meters of new land, allowing for significant new development and for the Central District to regain its traditional role as a maritime center.
Former owners and tenants are showing strong interest in returning to the BCD ,ensuring that the area will soon be teeming with commercial and residential activity .About 1400 former tenants have formally applied to return to their premises.
In addition ,with the recuperation process in the BCD virtually completed ,152 lots out of a total 256 have been recuperated by their former right holders, who must restore them within two years in accordance with development briefs prepared by SOLIDERE.
Out of the 265, about 100 lots are now definitely the property of SOLIDERE as their former owners and tenants chose to keep their shares rather than reclaiming them.
From left to right : Mr. Taher Jaffal, Mr. Fawzi Ghandour, Mr. Pierre Asseily, Ms.Youmna Abdel Razzak
"We have great hopes for the BCD and trust that Lebanon will reestablish itself as in the past," says Ms. Youmna (Assad) Abboud Abdel Razzak, owner of the Martyrs' square building known as the Opera. Ms. Abdel Razzak's confidence in the future of the Central District echoes the sentiments of all those who have made a decision to recuperate their property in the BCD.
Mr. Pierre Asseily, who is restoring the capitole building on Riad El Solh square, say's our hope is that Beirut will remain a center for major companies . I have great confidence in the future of Lebanon."
Mr.Taher Jaffal ,owner of a commercial building in the port area, says "There is a lot of faith that it will regain its pre-war role."
Mr.Fawzi Ghandour owner of a number of properties in the BCD , considers SOLIDERE to be "a good project " and wishes that " the implementation of the project proceed in accordance with the Master plan to reconstruct the heart of the city Former right holders who recuperated their properties have been quite supportive of the urban guidelines imposed by SOLIDERE, despite the fact that they were sometimes described as strict and difficult.
"The guidelines are very strict ,but they are for our own benefit and the benefit of the BCD and they are up to the aspirations we have for the future of the region",says Mr.Jaffal ."This is the only way to achieve the required standards."
Mr.Asseily shares this opinion and says the requirements are "modern and advanced ...It's natural to impose such conditions ,otherwise , if everyone is allowed to do what he pleases,chaos will prevail and we would not be able to get anywhere."
Mr.Asseily continues ,"The application of such requirements in the BCD will place Beirut on the same level as the cities of the developed world."
A large number of local, Arab and international delegations and dignitaries visited SOLIDERE and the Central District during the second quarter of 1996.
Among the visitors were the Speaker of Egypt's Parliament Ahmed Fathi Srour, Speaker of the Romanian Parliament Adrien Nastase, French Minister of Justice Jacques Toubon, British Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Jeremy Hanley, Cypriot Vice Minister of Telecommunications A.Tyrgos ,the Secretary General of the Arab Cement Federation Emir Sultan Ben Mohammed Ben Saoud leading a delegation of representatives from 14 Arab states,the Mayor of Montreal pierre Bourque and U.S.Ambassador Richard Jones.
Visiting delegations included UNDP senior staff members ,180 shareholders and editors of the daily "Le Monde ",and 15 members of the "M.E.Capital Group ,"as well as a number of American ,European ,Arab and Lebanese investors, and construction professionals.
More than 2,000 people visited SOLIDERE during the first six months of the year.
SOLIDERE has started the land and environment treatment of the Normandy area, a cornerstone project in the development and reconstruction of the BCD.
The company seeks to establish modern financial, commercial and residential centers and cultural and entertainment facilities in this area, in addition to constructing a public park and a seaside promenade.
Currently, the company is in the process of treating 65,000 square meters of the reclaimed land facing the Hilton Hotel,extending from the bay of St.Georges in the west to the stock Exchange Building in the east.
The process consists of unearthing the landfill, then separating it into material requiring either biological or physical treatment,and material that cannot be treated on site and needs to be transported outside the landfill.
The unearthing process has started west of the area and is progressing eastward,concurrent with landfill and compacting works that are readying the area for infrastructure works. SOLIDERE is building an on-site laboratory to continually analyse material from the area so as to rapidly evaluate the efficacy of the treatment.
The company will also be cooperating with AUB and other institutions to access their lads for analyses that cannot be executed on site. A number of precautionary measures have been taken to safeguard the safety of the public and staff working in the fenced-in area.The measures include check-points to monitor entry and exit of personnel and visitors, staff training, and the use of special equipment.
The treatment of part of the Normandy sector will be completed toward the end of 1996, and the rest by October of 1997.
On April 24, British historian Lord John Julius Norwich spoke to an audience of about 1000 people at the Royal Geographic Society in London on " the richness of the archeological finds"in the BCD. He praised SOLIDERE's efforts "to preserve the archeological wealth of the BCD without obstructing the reconstruction process."
He also expressed his belief that Beirut would remain "a City of culture and not a city of skyscrapers devoid of heritage," underlining SOLIDERE's "positive "role in this respect.
During his March visit to Beirut and the Central District,Lord Norwich produced a short film on the BCD archeological excavations that was screened at the London conference.
SOLIDERE was present at a number of local and international conferences during the second quarter of 1996.Displayed at a number of exhibitions, the maquette of the project for the development and reconstruction of the BCD occasioned the admiration of participants and visitors.
SOLIDERE participated in the United Nations conference on human settlements, Habitat II,organized in Istanbul from June 3 to 14.
Selected as one of the 100 Global Best Practices displayed at the international gathering, the BCD reconstruction project was on exhibition throughout the conference and became a focus of attention for much of the international media covering the event, including European, African, Latin American and Asian television.
Representing the only totally private-sector project selected as a Best Practice,the SOLIDERE stand was visited by hundreds of delegates and city officials.
SOLIDERE participated in the "Arab Capital Markets" conference organized in the Summerland Hotel from June 24 to 26. Presenting a paper on the current state of works in the BCD,Deputy General Manager Abdel Hafiz Mansour joined 36 other Lebanese, Arab and international participants, representing the investment, business and banking sectors.
SOLIDERE was also present at the "Project Lebanon 96" exhibition dedicated to the construction industry organized between June 20 and 24 at the Beirut Exhibition Center on Martyrs'Square. Five hundred companies from 27 countries participated in the event, in addition to Lebanese firms involved in development, reconstruction and the technology of building materials.
During the month of May, SOLIDERE took part in SIBATECH, an exhibition of construction and industrial material held at the Beirut Hall in Sin El Fil.
SOLIDERE organized its seventh, and again very successful, Souk El Barghout, or flea market, in the Beirut Exhibition Center in Martyrs' Square from June 28 to July 12. A novelty was the very well-received public auction of contemporary Lebanese paintings.
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