Project Heumarkt: Statement by WertInvest on the decision of the VfGH

VfGH refrains from dealing with the complaint - it is now the turn of the Administrative Court to deal with it

Vienna, 24.10.2019 - The Heumarkt project aims to modernise the currently unattractive area between the Wiener Konzerthaus and the Stadtpark. The Hotel InterContinental, the traditional Wiener Eislauf-Verein and the Wiener Konzerthaus would benefit and a new, green, modern living area would be created for the residents.

The advantages at a glance:

- Preservation of the Wiener Eislauf-Verein (WEV) and conclusion of a rental agreement for 99 years - at the same conditions as before
- Modernization of the entire WEV (incl. the open space)
- Construction of a year-round ice rink (underground)
- Creation of a gym for neighbouring schools and clubs
- New event halls and catering facilities
- Modernization of the Hotel InterContinental
- Creation of new conference areas, office space and residential units
- Spacious areas for recreation, mobile green, water and shade elements
- Widening and greening along Lothringerstraße. A boulevard is created from the Stadtpark underground station to the Wiener Konzerthaus.
- Public passage along the Wiener Konzerthaus between 1. and 3. district

What has happened so far

The revitalization of the Heumarkt site has been underway since 2012. The aim is to modernise existing structures, create new offers and open spaces, return public spaces to the people in the neighbouring districts and at the same time respect the valuable historical urban landscape. The City of Vienna, the district council, local residents, experts, the Wiener Eislauf-Verein, the InterContinental Hotel, the Wiener Konzerthaus and the general public were involved in a cooperative process conducted for the first time in Vienna. This was followed by an international architectural competition with over 100 entries. The winning project by architect Isay Weinfeld was voted on again, subjected to an environmental audit by the City of Vienna and redimensioned (reduced in size) according to strict specifications of the City of Vienna. In June 2017, the zoning was approved, the building regulations were defined and in november 2018 the building application was submitted. This means that a zoning plan, a legally valid development plan and an urban development contract with the City of Vienna have already been submitted.

In April 2019, the Federal Administrative Court decided by a single judge that an environmental impact assessment (EIA) had to be carried out for the Heumarkt project. This is despite the fact that the Viennese provincial government already determined in October 2018 that the construction project is not subject to an EIA. Two independent expert opinions also came to the same conclusion – whereby it was also clearly established that the BVwG (with the appointment of an expert) had carried out an illegal procedure, because:

- There is no "urban development project" because the qualitative criteria are not already fulfilled.
- No new urban district will be developed and no access road will be built, but an already built-up area will be modernised – to the advantage of the neighbours, the Wiener Eislauf-Verein, the Wiener Konzerthaus and the entire district.
- The threshold values for an EIA with an area requirement of 1.55 ha will by far not be reached (at least 15 ha area and a gross floor area of over 150,000 m²).

The project applicant WertInvest then lodged a complaint with the Constitutional Court against the decision of the BVwG and an ordinary appeal with the VwGH. In this way, the legal situation has to be clarified and the necessary legal certainty to be attained.

Statement by WertInvest on the decision of the Constitutional Court

The project applicant WertInvest takes note of the decision of the Constitutional Court (VfGH), although it would be very important to clarify the legal basis of this important project in the near future.

"In its decision, the Constitutional Court states that it does not deal with the question of the EIA itself because, in the opinion of the Constitutional Court, this is not a constitutional question. This means that the case must now be dealt with by the Administrative Court (VwGH)," explains Daniela Enzi, Managing Director of WertInvest. "We had previously and primarily appealed to the Administrative Court in this case and remain confident that the decision of the Federal Administrative Court will be recognized as unlawful and reversed. Until then, the Federal Administrative Court has granted the suspensive effect in June 2019. This means that, unchanged until the decision of the Administrative Court, the BVwG's decision does not have any legal effects and no EIA has to be carried out."

"For the entire staff of Hotel InterContinental, the current situation is a great burden because the existing legal uncertainty calls into question the long-term safeguarding of hundreds of jobs as well as necessary investments in the hotel infrastructure. In addition, the project standstill is constantly resulting in enormously high additional costs.

A new construction of the hotel is therefore just as urgently necessary as the redesign of the Wiener Eislauf-Verein, which is limited by the current structural situation. The Heumarkt Neu construction project would solve all these problems and create future security for hundreds of jobs. The Wiener Eislauf-Verein would finally have the long awaited modern infrastructure and the two districts of Landstraße and Innere Stadt, which had previously been separated by the area, would be open and green, connected to each other".

Further inquiry note
Mag. Lisa Maria Amon
01 961 06 92 – 172