Saturday, February 02, 2013

Romania court says tower block that irked Vatican must go

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8176/8026098419_dc2001b32e.jpgAN OFFICE tower looming over a historic cathedral in Bucharest must be demolished after the city's Roman Catholic archdiocese prevailed in a lengthy legal case, a Romanian court ruled Monday.

The appeal court in the southern Romanian city of Ploiesti upheld a lower court ruling compelling the city of Bucharest to order the destruction of the empty glass-and-steel tower block dwarfing St Joseph's Cathedral next door.

Work began on the building in 2006, and the lawsuit by the archdiocese, as well as criticism from the Vatican, soon followed.

The ornate cathedral, listed as a historic monument, is a cultural and architectural symbol of Bucharest.

"I am waiting for the court to explain its decision ... and I will respect the law," Bucharest mayor Sorin Oprescu told local media.

The Ploiesti's court ruling cannot be overturned, though in a country of sometimes malleable planning laws, it remains to be seen if the 75-metre (245-feet) office block will actually be torn down.

Real estate promoter Millennium Building Development contested a 2010 court ruling against the building, saying its construction was legal.

Critics of Oprescu have condemned what they say is his poor track record in protecting the city's historic districts.

Many historic monuments in Bucharest are threatened by real estate speculation, heritage groups warned in a report this month.

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