The Quarterly '96
Developers' interest in the BCD is evidenced by the number of projects currently underway. Among the new developments are some of the world's best known franchises, a number of them to start operating as early as mid-1997. In addition to the hundreds of buildings being restored, the new projects are making SOLIDERE's plans to establish a thriving city center in phase one of its reconstruction program a reality.
The Libano-Arabe Insurance headquarters on the corner of Gouraud and George Haddad Street.
The new headquarters of Bank Audi in Bab Idriss
Future Headquarters of the Lebanon and Gulf Bank
Residential building on park Avenue
By the end of 1996, SOLIDERE had completed 45% of the infrastructure works in the traditional BCD. The installation of power, telephone, and water networks has been completed in the Foch-Allenby area, and is 95% ready in the Saifi and Bashoura areas. The installation of power lines from the port to Fakherdinne Street at the western entrance of the BCD is in its final phase while 40% of the work on the underpasses, tunnels, and bridges has also been done. The extension of the Fouad Chehab overpass has been completed, from the Armenian church in the east to the Ghalghoul area in the south where works have begun on the main junction. Two major underpass sections have been constructed: one linking Fouad Chehab Avenue to the end of Fakherdinne Street near the Phoenicia Hotel and the other linking Fakherdinne to Fouad Chehab.
Work underway on the overpass in the Ghalghoul area
The Riad El Solh underpass
Work on the tunnels linking Fouad Chehab avenue to Fakhreddine Street
SOLIDERE is finalizing the design of the lighting poles that will ornament the city center and that will be installed during the last phase of the infrastructure works. A modern design has been selected for the main streets and avenues, while the poles ornamenting the secondary streets and pedestrian areas will be in a style dating back to the Beirut of the 1930s. In the meantime, SOLIDERE has put in place temporary lighting in the main streets of the BCD to ensure public safety.
SOLIDERE has also taken the following steps to safeguard public safety and maintain the works on schedule.
-The organization of the traffic flow and the installation of clear traffic signs;
-The installation of warning signs for pedestrians and motorists alerting them to possible hazards from on-going works;
-The provision of car parking facilities in a number of locations; -the daily monitoring of clean-up operations
-Coordination with the Internal Security Forces;
-Coordination with the infrastructure contractor to make sure that traffic signs are changed as required by the on-going works.
At the end of 1996, the cadastral survey and the renovation of the topographical maps of the BCD were completed. The areas involved were Bashoura, Zokak El Blat, Saifi, the port and Minet El Hosn.
An offering of Solidere Global Depositary Receipts(GDRs) was launched in November 1996 which succeeded in raising a total of US$77 million for the company from international investors, principally in the United kingdom and United States of America. The GDRs, which represent the economic interests in the company's Class a shares, were sold to institutional investors at an issue price of $ 11.50, equivalent to $115 per share prior to the stock split. The GDRs were issued following an extensive international road show which brought in subscriptions for a total value of around $140 million.
The GDRs have been listed and traded on the London Stock Exchange since November 27,1996. The GDR issue was lead managed by Merrill Lynch International, and included a syndicate of banks of Switzerland and Banque Paribas. SOLIDERE's GDR is the largest issue of its kind by a Lebanese company, and one of the largest such transactions by any company in the region.
Four major international financial institutions recently published comprehensive research reports on SOLIDERE to support the marketing effort for the recent issue of Global Depositary Receipts (GDRs). The reports, which were prepared by Merrill Lynch, ING Barings, Robert Fleming &Co. and Union Bank of Switzerland all placed positive investment recommendations on the shares of SOLIDERE. The reports analyze the current activities of the company, its financial situation and their assessment of the attractions of investing in Lebanon in general and in SOLIDERE in particular.
The reports, which were distributed to a large number of potential international investors, use different methods of valuation on the company and, in all cases, conclude that the current share price is trading at a substantial discount to the true value of the shares.
pursuance of its decision to split the par value of the share, SOLIDERE has issued new share certificates for trade starting January, 1997. Shareholders can replace their original certificates through their banks and financial institutions who act as intermediaries. Upon receipt of the old certificates, the banks will follow up requests for new ones with SOLIDERE. The most modern printing and design techniques make counterfeit of the new attractive certificates a virtual impossibility.
Share performance during the last quarter of 1996 SOLIDERE "A" and "B" shares traded between a high of US$120 and a low of US$108.375 during the last quarter of 1996. The volume of trade increased following the listing of the shares in the official Beirut Bourse on SEPTEMBER 30. Approximately 577,000 shares in both categories, were traded during the last three months of the year.
The Hilton and Forum Intercontinental hotels and the trendy restaurant chain Planet Hollywood, are just three of the international franchises which will be operating in the Beirut Central District, as the heart of the Lebanese capital begins to regain its former luster. The nature and number of projects currently underway by local and international developers reflect the increasing confidence of the business community in the BCD and pave the way for a successful completion of the first phase of reconstruction.
Planet Hollywood, one of the world's most popular restaurant chains, launched by silver screen giants Arnold Schwazzernegger, Sylvester Stallone, Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, will be located in the restored premises of lot 109, a retained building in the Foch Allenby area, and is certain to be an important attraction to the young and young at heart.
The Societe Mediterraneene des Grands Hotels will be completely refurbishing and expanding the Hilton Hotel following their purchase of an adjacent lot of land so that when it reopens its doors in 1998, the five-star hotel will be a bigger and grander hotel than originally envisioned.
To be developed by the Societe Libano-Arabe d'Hotellerie, the Forum Intercontinental will be located on George Haddad Street, on the southeastern entrance to the BCD, and will provide its clientele with world class business facilities and accommodation.
A five hotel on Park Avenue being developed by the Farha Group, will provide luxury accommodation in the very heart of the city. Its imposing design is certain to become a landmark in the Hotel District.
Franchises scheduled to start operating in the BCD as early as mid 1997 are the Johnny Rocket drive-in theater in Ghalghoul, and the U.S.-based restaurant chain Sports Cafe, currently under construction in the Zeitouni area. Soon to be announced are also a number of major agreements with a number of international hotel chains.
Other developments also underway include Bank Audi's elegant new headquarters on Bab Idriss Avenue, those of Lebanon and Gulf Bank on Allenby Street, Libano Arabe on the corner of George Haddad and Gouraud streets as well as the new head offices for Strikers insurers.
Furnished apartments on Omar Daouk Street and on Park Avenue, a state-of-the-art polyclinic in the Saifi Area, a restaurant complex and a number of residential, office and commercial developments in the Wadi Abou Jamil, Bab Idriss, and Patriarch Houayek areas are some of the developments which will grace the Central District during Phase One of its reconstruction.
All of these developments are in addition to those undertaken by SOLIDERE, and which include the reconstruction of the Souks of Beirut, the development of an office building on Riad El Solh that will house the offices of a number of United Nations agencies, the 40 story high Beirut Trade Center, and a number of residential buildings in the Saifi area.
As SOLIDERE continues to meet its phase One objectives, the BCD will begin to take shape as center ready for business, coming to life as a place of residence, work and fun.
The Atrium building on Maard and Weygand streets is being developed by the Prime estate group
The five star Farha hotel in minet el hosn
|Asseily building on Foch Street|
Following completion of the recuperation process, and concurrent with on-going infrastructure works, the restoration of retained buildings launched in early 1996 is now a major undertaking. A total of 106 recuperated lots are currently under restoration by their former owners or tenants, after permits allowing for the work to proceed were issued by the Beirut Municipality. Another 51 files are being completed, in line with conditions developed by SOLIDERE and the Directorate General of Urban Planning for presentation to municipal authorities.
Restored residential building in Zokat el Bolat, and building under restoration
|Restored building on Nejmeh Square|
Buildings undergoing restoration on Weygand and Maarad Street
The Grand Serail clock tower is back at work after being restored and fitted with a new mechanism. This is the first historical monument to be fully restored in the BCD. The works were undertaken by SOLIDERE.
The clock tower is named after Sultan Abdul Hamid II and was originally inaugurated during ceremonies marking the 21st anniversary of his reign.
The recuperation process allowing former property right holders to reacquire their real estate came to a close in the last month of 1996. A total of 139 lots, with an appraised value of $145 million, were recuperated.
More than 93 recuperating parties have already obtained permits to restore their properties and 76 have started to do so. Works are expected to be completed by the end of 1997 at a cost exceeding US$75 million.
The 114 lots which have not been recuperated remain SOLIDERE property.
The Master Plan for the reconstruction of the BCD is characterized by a set regulations that represent significant innovations in the area of urban planning. Among them are the following:
1- The BCD is divided into sectors, each of which is governed by special regulations allowing for the establishment of areas and districts enjoying a unique urban plan, architecture and set activities.
2-The BCD Master Plan gives special importance to the archeological excavations and the preservation of the historical heritage of the city center.
3-Traffic and road plans pay special attention to regulations governing car entrance and exit to and from private properties in order to maintain appropriate traffic flow. Traffic signs and billboards are strictly regulated to preserve clear and unobstructed views, to strengthen the aesthetics of the area, and to create an environment inviting to the handicapped.
4-Control of total built-up area is ensured by a limit on the number of lots in the entire BCD and for each of the 10 sectors. It is also ensured by specific height and back-of-pavement guidelines for each sector. This sectorial approach guarantees greater urban harmony than the simple exploitation coefficient applied in other areas of Lebanon.
5-The BCD's regulations also govern landscape, including street frontages, and a directive that at least 50% of all non-constructed private lots must be planted. This will ensure that the urban environment is not characterized by asphalt and cement.
6-The Master Plan attempts to strengthen the attractiveness of the urban environment through an adequate distribution of public spaces-squares and gardens- and plot ratio. Such regulations will contribute to a higher level of aesthetics by allowing for different and numerous types of activities. Each sector will be characterized by particular activities that strengthen its special character. Activities that weaken or damage that identity will not be allowed to operate in the sector.
This process is in contrast to traditional development projects that provide total reedom to developers at the expense of the public interest.
7-Developers are provided with development briefs which they must implement to ensure the integration of their project into the total environment of the district or sector.
A decree on the preservation and integration of some of the archeological sites excavated in the BCD was issued on October 12 by the Ministry of Culture and Higher Learning. The decree stipulates the following:
1-The preservation of the archeological site known as the Tel, with the possibility of constructing a non-intrusive bridge over it.
2-The preservation of the Phoenician District and its integration into the Souks development being built on the site.
3-Dismantling the site known as the Hellenistic District after photogrammetry studies allowing for its reconstruction in the public garden being developed on the same site.
SOLIDERE's restoration of the Roman Baths adjacent to the Serail is expected to be completed soon. Currently, works are in progress on the restoration of the mosaics discovered on site.
The Lebanese construction company Berytus has been contracted by SOLIDERE to develop around the Baths a public garden in line with Roman landscape traditions Financed by SOLIDERE, the entire works are scheduled for completion by early summer 1997.
The restoration of the Roman Baths is being carried out under the supervision of the Directorate General of Antiquities.
|The Roman Baths : Their restoration is almost complete|
A city is not defined simply by its buildings, but rather more by its public spaces that endow it with a particular character and define its social make-up. Accordingly, SOLIDERE has been very concerned with and attentive to the establishment and landscape of public spaces, avenues, streets and public gardens in the BCD.
The overall public domain in the traditional center of Beirut will be about 45% of the total land area, representing an increase of 30% from the pre-war period. In other words, SOLIDERE has relinquished 10.6 hectares of private property for public use.
In the reclaimed zone, public areas represent more than 50% of the total land area. This is a much higher ratio than in the other regions of Beirut, and is over the norm for traditional European cities. In fact, it is comparable with the public land areas in modern cities distinguished by the expanse and quality of their green spaces.
The diversity in public areas in the BCD is a reflection of the diverse composition of the area. Some public spaces affect the entire district, while others serve specific neighborhoods.
SOLIDERE has developed a green nursery over an area of 11,000 square meters near the Hilton Hotel. The nursery is meant to provide SOLIDERE with the flora required for BCD landscaping purpose. SOLIDERE has already started purchases of a wide variety of greens in preparation for their use in the city center's parks, streets and avenues.
Important land areas
-Martyrs' Square: This historic area will benefit from a green environment and constitute an important social pole.
-The Tel. An extension of Martyrs' square from where there is a clear view of the sea. Its Canaanite and Phoenician sites make it an attractive place for tourists and visitors.
-The Ghalghoul Park: At the southern entrance of the BCD, next to the ESCWA building, and from where visitors will form a first impression of the BCD.
-The Archeological Trail: It includes the archeology of the different periods and will give visitors an idea about the rich and diversified heritage of Beirut. Among other things, it includes the Phoenician wall, the Phoenician and Hellenistic districts, the Cardo, the Roman Baths, the Byzantine shops, the Mamluks and the Crusaders castle, the Arab mosques and the Ottoman remnants.
-The Old Sea Shore: This walk follows the pre-1975 Beirut seashore, and serves as a reminder of the former Ottoman pavement. The Beirut waterfront has moved north, toward the sea, and is the result of a series of reclamation efforts throughout history.
-Wide Avenues: Trees will form an essential part of the landscape of the city center's main avenues. Diverse tree types will reflect the different character of the various districts. Park Avenue, running from the Serail to the Sea, is planted with stacked trees, surrounded by all sides with small parks that emphasize its residential character.
-Normandy Park: This 8-hectare park will constitute the central area of the BCD. It is to be surrounded by residential which will make it a center of public life in Beirut.
The Corniche and the Beach: Extensions of the existing Beirut Corniche, the seaside boulevard will be adorned with trees lined along the way. Between Corniche and beach, the promenade will be surrounded by a landscaped garden with specially selected flowers and plants. Beach and promenade, flanked by two marinas, will encourage a large variety of open air activities and water sports.
-The historic center: Nejmeh Square, Maarad, Forch and Allenby streets form part of the BCD's historic center surfaced from the war in relatively good condition. It is characterized by buildings with stone facades that date back to the 1920s, and that housed well-known stores, restaurants, and open pedestrian areas paved with yellow granite stones and art deco lamps.
-The Souks: They include the traditional souks, such as Souk Al Tawile, Souk Ayass, Souk Al Jamil, and tipoli Street, as well as Bab Idriss square, Khan Antoun Bey and its mosque. This area is likely to be among the most animated of the reconstructed BCD.
-Saifi: It is a quiet residential district with small green squares, calm streets, and tiled pavements.
-Wadi Abu Jamil: It is part of the Serail hill, which is characterized by stairways, small inclined streets, and pedestrian alleys set between stone buildings.
-Hotels District: This high-density district is structured around avenues that lead to the Souks and to areas opened to the sea. It includes the western marina, which will be a center of open air activities.
The reconstruction of the Beirut Central District will be the subject Of a UNITED Nations documentary that examines three of the projects selected by the United Nations as "Best Practices" and exhibited at the UN conference on Human settlements, HABITAT II, held in Istambul in June of 1996.
In addition to the project, the two other "Best Practices" covered by the 30-minute film are extensive housing development by the municipality of Fortaleza in Brazil and an environmental pollution treatment project in Manila, capital of the Philippines.
The film revolves around the interchange of three teenagers on the Internet, each describing to the other two the "Best Practice" in his home country. A 17-years old Lebanese girl acts as the Lebanese narrator. She describes the BCD project through an interview with the Chairman of the Board of Directors and General Manager of SOLIDERE Nasser Chammaa, followed by a tour through the center of Beirut. The film is expected to be seen by hundreds of millions around the world.
-70,000 cars drive daily through the BCD
-5,000 cars visit the BCD every day
-400 trucks pass through the BCD every hour
-800 trucks a day are involved in land reclamation
-1,500 car parking places are currently available in the BCD
-1,500 workers are involved in the implementation of the infrastructural works
-2,600 workers are involved in restoration works
-3,000 employees are working in public and private institutions located in the BCD
-500 employees are working on the new developments
-1,200 cubic meters of demolition are treated daily by the crushing plant
- 450 persons visit SOLIDERE each month
- 150,000 issues of the QUARTERLY are distributed every year.
SOLIDERE was recently the recipient of two international awards for creativity and production.
1-Beirut Reborn, a book recounting the development of the masterplan for the reconstruction of the BCD, received the coveted Golden Downside Design and Print Award during a December ceremony in London. The international award is among the most prestigious in the field of design and printing.
2-SOLIDERE also received an award from the "XI London International Award" for cinema and TV for its soundtrack of the "BCD Newsreel." Tens of thousands of international media and communication companies in 60 countries around the world normally compete for the awards.
More than 5,000 people visited SOLIDERE for a presentation and tour of the project while hundreds of thousands more had a chance to visit the BCD maquette in exhibitions and conferences held in Beirut and abroad. In Istanbul, SOLIDERE participated in the UN Conference on Human Settlements, HABITAT II, where the BCD project was listed among the 100 Global Best Practices in the world. In Cannes, France, the company participated in the real estate retail exhibition MAPIC.
In Beirut, SOLIDERE was a participant at the Second Arab Capital Markets' Conference, the Lebanon Project 96 Fair, SIBATECH, and Real Estate and Investment Opportunities 96 Exhibition.
SOLIDERE also participated in a conference on "Beirut Through the Ages" held at the Royal Geographic Society in London, and a conference on Arab Cities at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris.
Work on the treatment of the environment in the Normandy area has progressed considerably in the last quarter. The process of waste extraction in the 65,000 square meters facing the Hilton Hotel, in the area between St.George Bay in the west to the Bourse in the east, is more than 20% completed. Currently the process of separating the various components of these materials is under way.
A view of the Normandy area under treatment.
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