https://syria-report.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Logo-20-2.jpg 0 0 admin https://syria-report.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Logo-20-2.jpg admin2020-07-22 23:49:322021-07-14 15:45:58Fayhaa Area to Become Potentially One of Damascus’s Largest Suburbs
More than four decades after government authorities expropriated local land, residents of a village west of Damascus are still banned from renovating or building homes and have yet to receive any compensation for their losses.
Some 16 years have passed since the Al-Fayhaa Suburb was officially established on land that once belonged to the village of Al-Bujaa, located west of Damascus on the Damascus-Beirut highway. If implemented, the suburb will be one of the largest in the Damascus area. Still, only 80 percent of the infrastructure for the residential project has been completed, according to the general manager of the General Housing Establishment, which owns the expropriated land. Residents of the suburb have to wait four more years for the infrastructure to be complete, according to the Minister of Public Works and Housing.
These official statements come after a government delegation visited the suburb’s construction site two weeks ago to inspect construction work, following sudden and intense demand for subscription certificates of the planned apartments in recent weeks. Many Syrians are buying apartments that are still in the planning stage, in as-yet uncompleted residential construction projects, in order to protect their savings from losing value amid the rapid depreciation of the Syrian pound.
Sources told The Syria Report that recent trading in the Fayhaa Suburb was at prices above those that have been fixed since 2017. Subscription first opened in July 2017 for a period of only one month. At the time, the General Housing Establishment set the price at about SYP 140,000 per square meter (roughly USD 300 at the 2017 exchange rate). The first required payment would be SYP 3 million, with subsequent monthly instalment payments of SYP 40,000. After subscription closed, these official prices remained relatively stable. However, trading on subscription certificates has been reactivated since the beginning of 2020, with customers buying shares as if they were trading on the stock exchange.
A revised zoning plan for the Fayhaa Suburb was issued in 2015 in accordance with the provisions of Law No. 5 of 1982 to set up 372 apartment blocks over an area of 150 hectares. The planned suburb was established by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers in 2004 as a cooperative housing project — that is, a project implemented by cooperative residential associations. Such associations from Damascus, the Damascus Countryside and Quneitra governorates are expected to build 334 of the project’s apartment blocks, while the General Housing Establishment will build just 38.
Although the GHE technically owns the land in the village of Al-Bujaa, the village has so far been exempted from inclusion in the zoning plans for the Fayhaa Suburb. In other words, the village is part of the land expropriated to build Fayhaa, but it is not included within the zoning plans. Rather, residents of Al-Bujaa still live in their homes, although they have been banned since 1977 from building new homes or carrying out renovations.
The zoning plans for Fayhaa include 11,000 apartments distributed over 372 blocks — 205 of which are nine storeys high and 167 of which have five storeys.
The area has additional security importance, as the nearby Syrian-Lebanese border and several main roads are within the zone of influence of the Syrian military’s Fourth Division, which is headed by Bashar al-Assad’s brother Maher al-Assad. The Fourth Division has a share of the residential apartment blocks in its name, which are being implemented by its own cooperative residential societies on the edges of the zoning plan. And since 2019, local media have reported that a Russian base is being built near al-Bujaa, in a former Fourth Division training centre. The Russian base reportedly includes a camp for Russian special forces, bases for missile launchers, control headquarters, stations for jamming and wiretapping strategic communications, a maintenance centre and air defence vehicles to protect the facility.
However, the apartment blocks in Fayhaa that will belong to the Fourth Division are not as desirable as other units included in the zoning plan. Instead, they have a lower commercial value, as they are located on the edge of the zoning map.