Center of Turkey’s Black Sea town Rize to be demolished, relocated amid fears of collapse

Center of Turkey’s Black Sea town Rize to be demolished, relocated amid fears of collapse

Center of Turkey’s Black Sea town Rize to be demolished, relocated amid fears of collapse

Thousands of buildings in the Black Sea town of Rize’s city center – an area that covers 70,000 people and 350 acres of land– are set to be demolished due to reports that have revealed their fragile structures, Doğan News Agency reported on Feb. 21.

The city center, which stands on artificial ground built using rocks, sand and loam in the 1960s, now poses a serious danger of collapse and is set to be cleared.

The buildings that stand in Rize today were not meant to be there in the first place. 

When then Rize governor Ekrem Orhon approved the filled-land building project, which accounts for about a third of the city center, the buildings were only supposed to go three stories high. That did not happen.

Government offices, cultural activity stations and residential areas were built, as the town gradually grew to 70,000 citizens, rising well above three stories. But now that town must be demolished, its people relocated.

In the first phase, nearly 2,700 buildings and 1,500 businesses in risk of collapse will be demolished and part of the city center relocated. In the second phase, new buildings limited in height and volume will be installed on the cleared space.

The area will then be gentrified, with “modern architecture” set to beautify the area, according to the agency’s report.

Aside from a couple of buildings that are possible to strengthen, all other buildings will be destroyed. The foundations of those buildings, which are below water levels, have been seriously damaged by corrosion as the foundation metals have lost their endurance capabilities, according to a report prepared by the Rize Architect Engineers’ Chamber.

Locals are also worried about their safety living there.

“Whatever needs to be done for the risky buildings should be done. If not, we will have a disaster on our hands,” a local, Kemal Murzaoğlu, has said.

“Where will they move this city?” another local, Hızır Demirci, said.

“If the buildings were only going to be moved in the end, how could they allow them to be built in the first place?” Demirci added.

The Environment and Urbanization Ministry has promised that locals would also be included in the process. Inclusive solutions would be sought after the ministry consults with locals following the demolition period, the agency reported.

“A short-term plan is not likely, yet we are working on it,” Rize Mayor Reşat Kasap said, also adding that the quickest fix would be to aim for “urban transformation.”

“The minister Mehmet Özhaseki’s visit [in Rize in early 2018] was a first step,” Kasap added.