Bulgaria’s Minister of Culture Vezhdi Rashidov signed an order on March 24 2016 that the 8 Odrin Street building in Plovdiv’s historic “Tobacco Town” district, the subject of a March 6 demolition attempt, must be rebuilt.
He said that the building must be fully restored, adding that he hoped this would be done by 2019 – a reference to the year that Plovdiv will hold the European Capital of Culture title.
Rashidov, speaking during a visit to Bulgaria’s second city to inspect work on the restoration of the Drama Theatre after a fire, said of the tobacco warehouse controversy, “I do not want to blame anyone, but how can all of Bulgaria know that a building is a cultural monument and the chief architect does not?”
Since the attempt at demolishing the warehouse – halted by Rashidov’s ministry and now the subject of an investigation by prosecutors – correspondence has emerged from the ministry to Plovdiv municipality saying that the building was a monument of culture.
Rashidov said that his ministry was working on updating information on 800 buildings in Plovdiv to avoid a repeat of what had happened to the Odrin Street building.
Plans have emerged in public showing artists’ impressions of the building remodelled as a luxury hotel. The municipality said earlier that such plans had not been lodged with it.
Rashidov said that it was expected that work on the database of cultural monument buildings in Plovdiv would be completed in two months. The same had been done in Varna, he said.
He said that 30 people at the Institute for Immovable Cultural Heritage were working on amendments to the Cultural Heritage Act.
A lot of work awaited Plovdiv mayor Ivan Totev and regional governor Zdravko Dimitrov. “Somewhere in the chain, something has broken, but as it can be broken, so too it can be fixed,” Rashidov said.
He called on the people of Plovdiv not to be so offensive towards Totev as mayor, as Totev was torn between protecting institutions and listening to people. Totev was a responsible person, Rashidov said. He added that the chief architect should not have left it to Totev to justify what had happened.
The owners of the building, in a statement earlier in March, denied wrongdoing and said that all their actions had been “guided by law”.