The Quarterly '96
SOLIDERE is launching a housing project in the Saifi area that will provide 145 apartments for rent to middle income groups. Located on the eastern entrance to the BCD, the residential district of Saifi enjoys a traditional architecture that will be reinforced by the new project. In accordance with the mixed-use approach of the Master Plan, nearly 42% of all development in the BCD is dedicated to housing projects.
In progress throughout the BCD, infrastructure works have required a temporary adjustment in traffic flow in the Ghalghoul area. With expansion works underway on the Fouad Chehab overpass, traffic between Zokak El Blat and Bashoura has been detoured toward Riad El Solh Square.
The rehabilitation and expansion of the Fouad Chehab overpass will facilitate traffic movement between different parts of the capital by connecting Salim Salam Avenue to the areas of Tabaris in Ashrafieh, Kantari, Hamra and the hotel district through Fakhredinne Street. Salim Salam Avenue also links the center of Beirut to the airport road.
The Ghalghoul crossroads project involves construction of the following new roads:
1- A road open to the Ashrafieh area and connecting Salim Salam Avenue to Fouad Chehab Avenue;
2- A road under the Fouad Chehab bridge connecting Salim Salam Avenue with:
a) Tawfiq Khaled Street and From there to Riad El Solh Square;
b) Fouad Chehab Avenue and from there to the Kantari area.
3 - A road connecting the center of Beirut with Salim Salam Avenue through the Riad El Solh underpass at the Fouad Chehab bridge.
4 - A secondary road linking Fouad Chehab Avenue to the Salim Salam Avenue leading to the airport. This road will service traffic from the Kantari and Zokak El Blat areas.
5- A road linking the BCD with the Mousseitbeh area through the Riad El Solh underpass
The first phase of the expansion of the Fouad Chehab bridge has been completed. This segment of the works was limited to the Beshara Khoury Avenue crossroads. The second phase of the project is scheduled for completion by mid October 1996.
A major part two underpasses have also been constructed. The first connects Fouad Chehab Avenue to the end of Fakhreddine (Zokak El Blat- Arlequin connection) while the second connects Fakhredinne with the Fouad Chehab Avenue (Phoenicia Hotel/PTT Center in Minet El Hosn).
Excavation works and the structural reinforcement of adjoining buildings continue on the Mar Elias underpass.
The cadastral surveying of three areas of the BCD have been updated. Topographical maps of Bashourah, Zokak El Blat and Saifi are now completed. Work is continuing on the two remaining areas, the port and Minet El Hosn. The two-year surveying project is expected to be completed by the end of 1996. A totally computerized program developed by SOLIDERE will allow for easy access of all relevant cadastral information.
Based on the results of these surveys, the Real Estate Register of the Ministry of Finance will issue new title deeds in accordance with the Master Plan.
SOLIDERE's shares started trading on the Beirut Exchange on September 30. Until September 27, they were traded on the Beirut Secondary Market.
The Secondary Market was officially inaugurated on June 24, 1994, and had provided SOLIDERE shares with a trading floor in the absence of the Beirut bourse.
The Secretary General of the Beirut Stock Exchange Amin Moukheiber said the participation of SOLIDERE in the Stock exchange "provided additional security for stock holders, and a reconfirmation of the trust in the Stock Exchange and in SOLIDERE shares. This will lead to a significant increase in the daily volume of trade."
In the course of the quarter, SOLIDERE published its half yearly financial statement which included its accounts in terms of expenditures and profits for the first half of 1996. SOLIDERE published the statement in both local and international newspapers.
Last July, the Company issued its 1995 Annual Report which includes a statement about the financial status of the company and its activities during that period within the framework of its project for the development and reconstruction of the BCD.
The Council of Ministers approved the amendment of Articles 6 of SOLIDERE's Articles of Incorporation, so that its last paragraph now reads as follows:
"The value of each share is 10 U.S. dollars." The Council also approved the amendment to the legal quorum requirement for a general assembly of the company adding to each of the first and second paragraphs of Article 46 the following statement " And if the quorum is not obtained at the second meeting, a call will be made for a third meeting in which the quorum will be established by those shareholders present."
A decree was issued in this regard in the official gazette of September 19, 1996.
It is to be recalled that the General Assembly of SOLIDERE shareholders, that convened on June 29, in both ordinary and extraordinary sessions, decided, upon a suggestion by the company's Board of Directors, to amend the article which deals with the par value of the shares so that their value will be split from $100 to $10. It also decided to amend the article that refers to the legal quorum requirements on a third call for a meeting so that the quorum is automatically established by those present.
Shares performance in the Secondary Market during the third quarter of 1996 . After registering a decline during the earlier part of the quarter, SOLIDERE shares recovered much of the lost ground to trade at $ 115 1/8 for "A" shares and $ 116 for "B" shares by the end of September.
On September 30, their first day of trade in the Beirut Stock Exchange, SOLIDERE shares gained a number of points.
The listing of SOLIDERE shares in the Beirut Stock Exchange has been universally well received. The head of the Exchange, Gabriel Sehnaoui, described the move as a "very important step" toward the reactivation of the local stock market.
SOLIDERE has finalized the design of a project for affordable housing in the Saifi area, a traditional residential neighborhood of the BCD. Saifi is distinguished by a markedly Lebanese architecture and by its privileged geographical location, adjacent to the souks, the sea front, as well as commercial and recreational centers. The project will be located on an eastern entrance to the BCD near George Haddad Street, a main thoroughfare of the Central District.
The new buildings are designed to be in harmony with the unique architectural character of the area and will be fitted with fire protection systems, facilities for the handicapped, building management and monitoring systems, and audio-visual security systems, all conforming to international standards..
Implementation of the project will begin at the end of this year and completion is scheduled for early 1999.
The buildings will be located on four sites with a total land area of 7,400 square meters. The total floor space will be 31,325 square meters, of which 3,300 square meters, on the ground floors, will be allocated for commercial use.
One of the buildings will be located on Said Akl Street, known formerly as Carpenters' Street.
Each apartment will average about 184 square meters of usable space, with either two, three or four bedrooms. With two apartments per floor, these residences will enjoy parking facilities that go beyond current requirements of the building code. Over 20,500 square meters of underground facilities will provide parking space for 420 cars, as well as storage areas for each of the 145 apartments. The substantial parking facilities will greatly alleviate a problem that plagued the area before the war years.
The project also involves retail stores, gardens, playgrounds, kindergartens, and all the facilities required to provide services and comfort for its residents, including air conditioning, garbage disposal services, and comfort for its residents, including air conditioning, garbage disposal services, and 24-hour security.
The Saifi housing project is unique in that it highlights Lebanese heritage through the use of traditional architectural engineering in harmony with modern requirements. The project will help revive an elegant style associated with old Beirut, while introducing comforts associated with modern housing construction.
Within the framework of the Master Plan for the development and reconstruction of the BCD, 42% of the floor space in the BCD is allocated for housing. The Saifi residential project consists of 145 apartments each averaging 184 square meters of floor space, in 16 buildings.
In Line with the character of the area, nome of the buildings will be higher than seven floors. Careful attention has been given to the design of the buildings to ensure that they are distinguished by a coherent use of essential elements of Lebanese architecture that underline the Levantine character of Beirut and recall its history and culture.
The photos seen bere, above and right, show perspectives of two of the Saifi buildings that will combine elements of the City's heritage with modern amenities.
The biggest work sites in the BCD moving ahead on schedule, restoration works are in progress is most areas of the Central District. Together with the extensive infrastructure works, they have transformed the BCD into a massive work site. More than 95 buildings are under restoration by their owners who have obtained development permits from the Municipality of Beirut.
Well-Known landmarks such as the Capitole, Bank of Syria and Lebanon, and Al Azarieh buildings have started to regain their former distinction, as the restoration of their elegant facades is almost completed. In addition, more than 40 of the 50 buildings designated as architecturally significant in the Riad El Solh and Foch-Allenby areas are currently under restoration.
Work on another 47 buildings are expected to start soon as their owners await final approval of restoration briefs developed in line with SOLIDERE requirements by the Directorate General of Urban Planning.
By 1998, all of the buildings in the BCD will have been restored and be fully functional as the Central District becomes once more the preferred address in Beirut.
Investor interest in the BCD became evident in 1995 following agreements between SOLIDERE and a number of companies and businessmen on real estate sales estimated at more than $ 200 million. The sales reflected widespread confidence in the project of reconstruction of the Central District.
The sales also confirmed the interest investors have in securing a presence in the heart of the capital, because of its central geographic position, its unique historic role and its prospect as a regional center.
THE QUARTERLY spoke to a number of investors whose views are excerpted below:
Mr Samir Mansour will be developing a number projects in the BCD, including a 3 star hotel in the hotel district. He is a strong supporter of the Central District reconstruction because of his" confidence in the State and in the SOLIDERE project. SOLIDERE is able to attract investors from a wide spectrum because of the promotional facilities that are provided by this project, in addition to the environmental and technical aspects that distinguish it."
Mr Raymond Audi, who is building the main headquarters of Bank Audi in the BCD, says that the center "is the lung of Beirut," and adds that " the SOLIDERE project confirms this." Mr Audi believes that "Beirut will again play an important financial role, especially at the regional level, and that it will be distinguished by its modern infrastructure by the quality of its services and by its unique ecological environment, in addition to its human capabilities. These elements represent particular Lebanese qualities.
Mr. Youssef Kanaan is regional director of Consolidated Construction Company (CCC) a group which will soon start building its headquarters in the BCD. He shares this opinion. CCC, says Mr Kanaan, is very interested in participating in the construction of a number of projects in the BCD because this is the area "That represents the heart of Beirut." The CCC executive is an unequivocal believer in the future of Lebanon." Lebanon can regain its former status because the Lebanese can succeed inside their country as they succeeded outside it."
Mr.Rabah Idriss, owner of two business projects in the BCD, invokes sentimental and national considerations, in addition to investment motives when discussing his interest in the Central District. "This is not just a matter of investment in a parcel of land or in a building. We have roots in the BCD and we consider participating in Beirut's reconstruction and preserving its heritage as a national duty."
Mr Idriss says he is optimistic about the future of the country. Lebanon, he says, "will surely regain its financial and commercial role."
Mr Chahe Khatchadourian, who has acquired a building on Maarad Street, says he sees his investment as primarily a " business opportunity, because SOLIDERE's project is a serious undertaking which represents the future of the country."
However, he adds that "the second reason lies in our desire to be part of this historic city center. That is why we bought an old building for its traditional and architectural importance."
Bechara Nammour, developer of a restaurant complex project in the Foch-Allenby area, echoes a similar opinion when he says that " investing in the BCD is a unique opportunity for any investor because of the traditional environment that characterizes this area." He adds with enthusiastically: " I am very eager to come to the BCD."
SOLIDERE is setting up a green nursery on 7,000 square meters of land adjacent to the Hilton Hotel. The nursery will nurture plants that will be used in the general landscape of the BCD, act as a temporary residence for trees that have to be transplanted from areas affected by infrastructure works, and provide a locale for the cultivation of seasonal plants that will provide flower beds for the BCD throughout the year.
The nursery will also be a cultural and recreational center where visitors will have a chance to become better acquainted with their green environment.
The development of the nursery will take place in two stages: the first one involves 4,600 square meters of land to be developed as a garden where visitors will learn about the plants, trees and herbs that will become part of the BCD. The nursery will host educational and training sessions for students and amateurs in addition to exhibitions and cultural activities. The second stage will invole an area of 2,400 square meters adjacent to the first parcel and will include additional gardens that will house trees and herbs selected for their beauty and color.
In coordination with the Lebanese Army and the Ministry of Transport, SOLIDERE has started clearance of unexploded bombs lying on the sea bed in the area affected by on-going land reclamation works. Completion of this process is a prerequisite for the start of works on the new sea defense lines.
In a first phase, SOLIDERE carried out a comprehensive survey of the area, extending from St. George Bay to the First Basin of the Beirut Port, to locate and identify bombs or missiles lying on the sea bed. By September 30, around 90% of the area had been surveyed and 700 bombs collected, out of which 600 were disabled while the rest will be detonated later.
The removal process is done as follows: the collected bombs or missiles are brought to the surface and grouped together. Explosives are placed in each group which is then lowered back into the sea where they are detonated at depths of 25 meters in areas designated by the Lebanese Army.
The whole process is carried out by a team of specialized divers who have come to Lebanon for the project. They are assisted by 12 Lebanese divers under the supervision of the Engineering Brigade of the Lebanese Army and Dimex, a Danish company contracted for this assignment by SOLIDERE. This operation is scheduled for completion by early October 1996.
Archeological excavations carried out in the BCD by an American University of Beirut team under the supervision of Dr. Helga Seeden are benefiting from a GIS program developed for that purpose by SOLIDERE. The program includes written and audio-visual information, electronic drawings and live films that incorporate expert comments and explanations on the archeological explorations covering every aspect of the excavations.
The program facilitates the management of the detailed and complicated information compiled during archeological excavations and places it within easy reach of the researcher. In the future, the program could be used in other archeological sites in the BCD.
London-based Academy Editions has recently issued BEIRUT REBORN, a beautifully illustrated book on the masterplan for the reconstruction of the Beirut Central District. The 148-page volume examines the main guidelines of reconstruction in the context of the city's history and of the vision the Lebanese share for its future.
With 258 colorful pictures and technical drawings spread over seven chapters, BEIRUT REBORN looks at the BCD in the context of its past and its future as a meeting point for all of Lebanon's communities and as a regional and international center.
Written in a style attractive to the professional and the layman, BEIRUT REBORN recounts the main themes and features of the reconstruction process and offers informative sidebars to the main narrative.
On September 12 and 14 SOLIDERE participated in a conference on Challenges and Future Trends of Companies in Lebanon after the Year 2000" organized by the Research, Program and planning Department at AUB in the Al Bustan Hotel in Beit Mery.
SOLIDERE's Deputy General Manager Abdel Hafiz Mansour was asked to participate in two of the panels, one on management practices and another on the company's experience in issuing an initial public offer.
SOLIDERE was also present at the Institute du Monde Arabe in paris for a conference that examined, through comparative analyses, the future prospects for Arab and European city centers. On September 27, Deputy General Manager Jean Paul Lebas addressed the conferees on "Reactivating the Beirut Central District by Integrating City Memory into the Reconstruction Process."
SOLIDERE participated in the "Real Estate and Investment Opportunities 96" exhibition held in the Beirut Hall in the district of Sin EL Fil. It was also present at " Infrastructure and Real Estate Investments 96" in the Forum Center on Charles Helou Avenue where it displayed a model of its project to develop and reconstruct the Central District.
SOLIDERE continues to receive large number of visitors and dignitaries interested in information on the project and works in progress. Among Arab visitors to the BCD were Egyptian Minister of the Economy Youssef Boutros Ghali, Syrian Minister of Justice Hussein Hassoun, a Saudi delegation headed by a representative of the royal palace, Sheikh Mohamed Aqil, a representative of Saudi investment companies, kuwaiti businessman Sheikh Salem as-Sabah, as well as Minister of Tourism Nicolas Fatouch accompanying the Secretary General of the International Tourism Organization Francisco Frangielli.
Other visitors included the Japanese ambassador to Jordan Takayuki Kimura and South African ambassador to Lebanon Justus de Goede, the Spanish commercial attache Juan Ortega, as well as representatives from the World Bank and from British, French, German, Japanese and South Korean firms. Media interest in SOLIDERE was again very evident, with a number of visits from European, Asian and American journalists, including the former U.S. hostage Terry Anderson who is producing a film for CNN on Lebanese reconstruction.
SOLIDERE is now connected to the Internet, making communications via E-Mail possible to and from the company. The service is available through a number of company departments.
In addition, the company has developed a special software program enabling it to receive and administer documents relating to its sea defense works, minimizing paper work and facilitating access to all needed information. The program also allows for easy exchange of documents, the preservation of documents on magnetic tapes, retrieving, and integrating a notification or alarm system for time-sensitive correspondence.
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