So, what’s better than a private development company building a lot of cool stuff? A private development company with the power of government.
And with that I have probably gravely offended both my friends on the Left and on the Right at the same time.
But hear me out:
Solidere is the missing link in urban development. It fills a void that government cannot fill. It was founded by the then Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafik Hariri, as a development company responsible for the planning and redevelopment of Beirut following their civil war.
Solidere enjoys special powers of eminent domain as well as a limited regulatory authority codified in law, making the company a unique form of public-private partnership.
So is Solidere the perfect solution to all our urban problems? Probably not, as nothing is ever perfect. But I wouldn’t be surprised if more entities like Solidere start popping up in cities around the world, as many city and national governments struggle to cope with the demands of urban development in the 21st century.
The New Urbanist will be posting an array of projects done by Solidere in Beirut over the coming week so that you can decide for yourself if this kind of development company is needed in some of our cities.
I’ll leave you with a hint: Paris didn’t become the city it is today because Baron Haussmann asked every Parisian in a town-hall style forum to share their thoughts and feelings on the transformation and modernization of the city.