Villa demolition. Photo: Facebook Mikuláš Kroupa
On Thursday, an excavator began demolishing the walls of a historic villa located at the foot of Petřín in Smíchov. Local residents, who organized an online petition with about 2,600 signatures against the unknown owner of the house, called a protest rally against it. The demolition was condemned by Prague’s deputy mayor for culture Jiří Pospíšil (TOP 09).
The house from the beginning of the 20th century is nicknamed the Schieszl Villa by the locals after the First Republic politician Josef Schieszl, who lived and worked there. The current real owner is unknown, the property is held by a limited liability company controlled through a chain of Cypriot companies, and intermediaries act for the owner. Workers started the first work on Monday.
The building permit refers to modifications and extensions to the villa, but in fact, according to local residents, it is a question of replacing the building with a new one with four times the floor space. The residents of the neighboring houses submitted requests for a review of the positive opinions of the preservationists and the territorial development department of the Prague municipality to the ministries of culture and local development.
The Ministry of Culture has called for the work to be suspended until the review is completed. In addition, one of the neighbors filed an appeal against the building permit, the appeal authority in this case is the municipality of the capital.
Pospíšil said today that he considers the demolition work unacceptable. According to him, the building permit was issued only under the conditions of reconstruction and rebuilding of the house, and under the same conditions, the municipal Institute of Planning and Development (IPR) and the municipal Department of Territorial Development issued a positive opinion. “I am very happy that the Ministry of Culture has called for the suspension of work until the decision of the preservationists is reviewed,” he said.
He added that it is necessary to demand a more responsible approach from developers and the city cannot prepare to lose buildings in heritage zones, which are very often an important legacy full of symbolism and an important part of historical memory.
“A close associate of TG Masaryk and Edvard Beneš lived and worked in the villa, who did not bend down and was persecuted both by Nazi Germany and Czechoslovak communists,” the deputy recalled.
He added that he was sorry for the procedure of the building authority of Prague 5, which only posted information about the building procedure on the official board and did not contact the neighbors directly. “At the same time, it is a shame that the Prague 5 City Hall did not appeal after rejecting the objections raised by them and did not involve the public in the matter earlier. For me, this should not be the case,” concluded Pospíšil
This is not the first such case in this area. The year before last, similar opposition was raised against the intention to demolish a villa from the beginning of the 20th century not even a kilometer away in Nad Výšinkou Street.
At the time, the villa was owned by Valérie Haščáková, wife of Jaroslav Haščák, co-owner of Penta investment group. After intense criticism of the demolition by local residents and politicians, the villa changed hands three times, eventually ending up in the ownership of the investment group Rockaway Capital and still standing.