Russian-born businessman Alexei Zakharov became well known as the owner of a palace in Dolny Olesnika. In 2011, the media reported that he was bullying local residents. The greenhouse of a horticulture owner who refused to sell his land to Zakaro was burnt down. He himself was assaulted by many men and suffered lifelong consequences. The publicly accessible fort and popular tourist attraction became an impregnable fortress surrounded by razor wire.
The Šárecká udolí association fears that a similar fate awaits the former Prague swimming pool in the Šárecké nature park. Zakharov’s company Great Parkland bought 30,000 square meters of land from the Czech Republic four years ago. Zakharov paid 14 million crowns for the land in one of the capital’s most profitable areas, part of the Šárecké údolí nature park.
According to the regional plan, this is a non-buildable area. More precisely: “An area with a limited structure for recreational, leisure, educational, intellectual and sports activities in nature, which does not significantly disturb the natural character of the area and its main part is green.”
From the 1930s to 2002, the site served as a public swimming pool. Legally, only new greenery, recreation areas, natural swimming pools, open pools in natural surroundings, residential lawns or outdoor sports facilities without equipment can be created. The zoning plan also allows for some minor construction – for example, a snack station at the swimming pool or changing rooms.
But Zakharov has completely different ideas. He wants to create a small lake on his property, surrounded by four large residential buildings. Multi-storey houses should fulfill the role of the “backdrop” of the lake, in which tourists can catch fish.
Details can be read from the building permit application awaiting approval at the building office in Prague 6. The main of the four buildings should measure nearly 11 meters. A three-storey house with an area of 713 sq. meters and 8 beds. The investor describes the other three two-storey houses as 12-bed “bungalows”.
“I’d love to,” Meyer wrote
“From the beginning, the developer is trying to put a practical hotel with twenty beds and a restaurant in four buildings. Those buildings are not needed for the function of the pool, which is called a pool. He actually turns it upside down: what is conditionally allowed as an additional function, he makes it the main building,” says the head of the Šárecké údolí association. David Ptáček says.
He represents forty-eight neighbors from Šárecký údolí, among them, Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, who is trying to block the construction as part of the construction administration. They don’t want a luxury residence of a famous businessman to be built on the site of a former swimming pool.
The president of the association says that the Russian businessman’s project has the political support of the local town hall. This is evidenced, for example, by email communication with the Deputy Mayor for Regional Development of Jakub Starek, today’s mayor of Prague 6.
“David, I heard about the project, I saw it. I like it very much. I like the idea of returning the water to the place. The buildings are small, and I like the effort to build some apartments,” said Starek, councilor for spatial planning, to the head of the Šárecké údolí association in September 2021. wrote
According to Eva Smutna, an architect and local representative who was part of the coalition in Prague 6 for TOP 09 at the time, the construction was clearly against the regulations.
“It’s an unbuildable area, there’s no room for construction of the same scale. There might be something like the swimming pool at Divoka Sharka, but not this one,” says Smutna.
Today, Smutna is in the opposition. He said he only learned about the construction through the Šárecké údolí association.
“At that time, Starek was the Councilor for Regional Development. If I put it bluntly, he published it. It would be good if the Regional Development Commission discussed it, that’s where all similar constructions go. But it didn’t happen,” recalls Smutna.
Retirement homes or luxury apartments?
Ptáček says Prague 6 approved Zakharov’s plan so that the Russian businessman would not disrupt his business.
“The Department of Regional Development recognizes it and says, “It is in our interests in this area”. In their interests, it is above all to create a development plan for the Shatovka Senior Center with fifty apartments,” says Ptáček.
The association has a long-standing dispute with town hall because the building is in violation of the zoning plan. The town hall says it wants to redevelop Shatovka Farm as affordable apartments for seniors. However, according to the association, it is a luxury residence, a wellness center and an underground parking space for dozens of cars, which encroaches on a protected natural monument. The court found the association valid and denied the intended change of zoning plan.
“Zakharov is a direct neighbor, he can delay them so much, they can block each other’s construction. Former deputy mayor Starek, as a councilor responsible for regional development, repeated this several times in the council, he already agreed with him,” he added.
Minutes of the Prague 6 council meeting from November 2019 demonstrate that the then-deputy mayor Starek said that he had already agreed with his neighbors about the Šadovka project several times. “At this point, actually with the neighbors to the west of this, we actually agreed on that plan,” Starek says, according to the minutes.
However, Mayor Chesnam told Sprague that he had never been in contact with Great Parkland’s owner, Alexey Sacharov.
“In the case of Sadovka (the senior housing project I received from Mrs. Smutna), I started negotiating with the local association immediately after receiving the commission. Personally, I only dealt with the neighbors in the east. In my presence, the Department of Territorial Development discussed the project with the architect Hlavekek, who represented the investor in the west.” Starek explained.
The mayor refused, saying the district would support Zakharov’s plan in exchange for his friendship with Shatovka’s plan. “As far as I know, there was always only about the impact of Shadovka senior housing project on these two parcels. All the agreements that happened were a form of modification of our project. For example, we retreated from the mass in the second row to the west, and we agreed to put more trees in the east, so that the plot was screened. In these places It was logical because there was a children’s group with its own playground,” said Starek.
We have included a statement from Mayor Jakub Starek.