Eagle Hills in Running to Build Croatian ‘Manhattan’

March 6, 2019
UAE-based Eagles Hills, which has its hands full building the mammoth Belgrade Waterfront in Serbia, is emerging as a potential winner of a contract to oversee a similarly scaled project in the Croatian capital, Zagreb.

Residential buildings in Sopot, Novi Zagreb. Photo: Wikipedia / Plamen

After the Mayor of Zagreb announced his intention recently to build a “City in the City”, likening it to Manhattan, attention in Croatia has focused on which company will undertake this huge task.

The stated aim is to transform the capital’s Novi Zagreb district into a “new, innovative urban area, with mixed and diverse complementary services, which would improve the overall quality of life of the inhabitants, become a tourist attraction, and form the centre of Novi Zagreb”.

The deadline for investors to send letters of intention expired on March 1. Asked by BIRN which companies had applied, the city and mayor’s office said three offers were received, two of which meet the conditions.

One was Bouygues Batiment International from France. The other was Eagle Hills, from the United Arab Emirates.

The city and mayor’s office added that “the qualifications and proven experience of both bidders are impressive and they have set a tough task for the Commission [considering the letters of intent]”.

But they also said the references for Eagle Hills appeared “optimal for future cooperation”, suggesting this firm would win the bid.

“Eagle Hills has demonstrated … outstanding experience in developing projects of similar scope and demanding task, particularly closely related to the topic of urban regeneration in fast-growing cities,” the Zagreb City Information Service wrote on Wednesday.

The same company has run the huge Belgrade Waterfront project, developing a large slice of the riverside in Serbia’s capital.

Its construction has caused controversy in Serbia, especially after masked men demolished buildings in the city’s Savamala area at night in 2016.

The “Let’s not drown Belgrade” civic movement was formed to oppose the Belgrade Waterfront project and has led major protests against it in Belgrade.

In February, Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic announced he wanted to build a new city within Zagreb on the 1.1 million square metre plot of land between the Sava river and Veceslav Holjevac and Dubrovnik boulevards.

The total investment in the project will not be less than 500 million euros.

“If Radnicka [street] is Zagreb’s Champs-Elysees, so it [the project] should be Zagreb’s Manhattan – a city in a city,” Bandic said on February 14.

The site is owned by the city authorities.

It is currently occupied by the Zagreb Fair – parts of which are protected by the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments as a cultural good – the Hippodrome and the football complex used by the Lokomotiva Football Club.

The new “city” would include residential and business buildings, promenades, parks, new streets, shopping centres, catering facilities, as well as a number of public spaces for citizens.

After the city selects the winning bidder, the Zagreb City Information Service says the next step would be agreeing the text and signing a Memorandum of Understanding.