ARTICLES 
Sofia to swap downtown construction sites for infrastructure investment
Dnevnik Daily, 08th February 2006
The Sofia municipality is ready to swap the ownership of 9 sites located at heavily-trafficked downtown intersections in exchange for a commitment on the part of the respective developer to build the necessary infrastructure, deputy mayor in charge of transport policy Velizar Stoilov told Dnevnik in an interview.
The plans, which have been coordinated with Sofia city mayor Boiko Borisov, include the intersections at Orlov Most bridge, the Sofia University and Stochna Gara and the intersections between the Cherni Vrah and James Boucher boulevards and the Todor Kabelshkov and Bulgaria boulevards, said Stoilov.
Most of the cited locations are zoned for the construction of 20-30-storey buildings.
The deputy mayor described the approach as a public-private partnership and said it was entailed by the under budgeting of municipal funding for infrastructure upgrades.
Stoilov assured that the investors will be picked on a competitive basis.
Municipal councilors confirmed they had heard about the idea and said off the record that there were efforts to ensure enough votes in the council to approve the project. Stoilov said the initiative could be moved for approval to the council in March at the earliest.
Realtors said each of the properties that would be swapped is worth at least 10 mln euro in cash. The going rate for downtown plots zoned for high-rise construction starts from 1,000 euro/sq m.
Representatives of several property investment companies said they were ready to bid at these prices if the cited land plots are indeed put on the market.

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