Source: eKapija | Wednesday, 23.04.2014.| 15:24
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From abandoned location to a place of inspiration – Abandoned public spaces could soon become attractive destinations

Old plants, barracks, warehouses and other abandoned public space (brown field locations) could become places for gathering of young, talented and entrepreneurship oriented people. The National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED) and the American agency for international development (USAID) announced at yesterday’s conference that a competition for all local self-governance with creative ideas and available brown field locations which can be put into operation again will be released May 1.

The NALED Executive Board member and the president of the Pirot municipality, Vladan Vasic, thus pointed out that this will initiate implementation of another project oriented towards development of favorable business environment at local level.

- Through the certification project of municipalities with favorable business environment, NALED inspired municipalities to examine and develop their rules and practices. Through this project, NALED will inspire them to reexamine attitudes when it comes to potential usage of public space which they no longer use, to use them in a creative way and thus open new development perspective for the entire local community – Vasic said.

The NALED Commission will narrow the choice on three locations and after that it will select the best location.

The objective of the competition is to get to the best practices examples for other municipalities and towns in Serbia which illustrates how abandoned plants, industrial facilities, warehouse, barracks and similar facilities can be revitalized and thus completely change the image of the town and promote economic and social development.

The competition is a part of a two year Project of competition strengthening in Serbia, initiated in December 2013, which is directed towards two burning problems of the local economy – revitalization of brown field locations and grey economy decrease. Parallel with the competition for towns and cities, NALED will analyze current legal framework, including Law on privatization and Law in bankruptcy. Based on the analysis and inputs from local self-governance as well as on the basis of practical experience acquired through revitalization process of brown field locations, NALED will prepare specific recommendations for the Government of Serbia on how to improve legislation framework for revitalization of brown field locations at the governmental and local self-governance level.

at the conference in Mixer House

Business incubators

The abandoned facility of the social company in Novi Sad which has been empty for six years today is a business incubator which supports start ups to overcome the first three critical business years. Only in the first stage in 2010, a total of EUR 13,9 mil was invested in this damaged space so that today it would comprise 400 m2 of comfortable space for entrepreneurs with vision.

Savski venac as well, a capital municipality, showed that a ruined building can become Business center which has existed for three years now. The center comprises a business incubator, EU projects office, the Youth Office, educational center, NGO department and business accelerator.

"Mini Netherlands"

Vahali, dealing with shipbuilding of all kinds of metal vessels, design, projects, overhauls as well as general construction of special projects, showed that an abandoned location can become a “Mini Netherlands”. Namely, a year ago, this Holland company bought Sremska Mitrovica-based shipyard after a nine year long bankruptcy, Milos Stefanovic, Sales and Marketing Manager at Vahali, says for eKapija.


- The current situation in 2013 was disastrous. The equipment left was out of order and waste quantities were measured in hundreds of trucks. The only worth thing at the location was concrete, asphalt and a hall construction – Stefanovic says and adds that the basic advantage of the location was the fact that the region was historically related to shipbuilding so it had quality shipbuilders.

Milos Stefanovic says that there are a number of reasons why they opted for that location but the area of the land and expansion options might have been determining.

- Shipyard was acquired for EUR 1, 8 mil and investments in this brown field location far went behind that number – a collocutor of our portal said and adds that it is planned that another hall totaling EUR 4-5 mil in a year or two.

Military facilities as tourist destinations

As Vladan Vasic said, the best list of brown field locations was done by the Ministry of Defense which comprises 447 military facilities totaling EUR 1 billion and less than 10% was put into operations. The border watches of the Army of Serbia on Stara planina, Ruja, Vlasina could become attractive destinations for sports tourism.

Marko Nikolic from the Freestyler Association which organizes mountain tours and natural camps says watches are strategically well-positioned and in excellent condition taking into account the fact that they were abandoned in 2006.

Profit even without rehabilitation

Ana Ilic from the Serbian movie association (SFA) points out that brown field locations, even at the current situation, can be the source of profit since they can become locations for movie shooting .

- Popular brown field destinations comprise Knezev arsenal in Kragujevac where a show Titanic- Blood and steel was shot in Italian-Irish production which spent USD 2 mil in Serbia in five weeks. Coriolanus was shot in the Old sugar plant as well as in the old Pancevo-based silk plant and shooting of Newcomer in Beton hall, Mixer and KC Grad has recently ended – Ilic pointed out.

(Sugar plant/KPGT, a place where "Coriolanus" was filmed)

World trend

The Group for creative economy says that it is not a rare case that brown field facilities and locations are turned into business infrastructure for development of art, culture and creative industry. Thus, Moscow-based Winzavod is one of the most successful incubators in Russia located in the oldest Moscow-based plant for wine production from 1889. As of 2005, the old Austrian dairy, Bowral, from 1921, is a new space for Austrian modern visual art. The ex Moscow-based plant, Crvena ruza (Red Rose) today is the oldest creative Artplay cluster, while the old plant for bread production in Vienna was turned into a multidisciplinary space for art activities.

Peter Wibler, the acting director of the USAID mission in Serbia, points out that best practices in USA showed that in many cases innovatively rehabilitated abandoned locations became city sights as well as that they generated new investments, supported employment and progress of local economies.

Irina Milosevic

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