UK investment firm Madara Bulgarian Property Fund, a company listed on the London Stock Exchange, confirmed that work has halted on its Bulgarian Black Sea Gardens project while it seeks investment money to continue.
The news is also a blow to renowned UK architect firm Foster & Partners which has designed the development which includes villas, luxury apartments and a hotel as well as a marina, spa and commercial and entertainment facilities.
The firm has been hard hit by the global real estate downturn. It recently made 300 people redundant and other major projects such as the £600 million Russia Tower in Moscow, a skyscraper on the site of the World Trade Center in New York, Dublin’s £162 million U2 Tower and a £78 million River Tower in Vietnam have been cancelled or delayed.
There are also questions being asked about the environmental impact of the massive resort. Environmentalists are raising concerns despite the fact that the design is described as eco-friendly and aims to be carbon neutral.
Foster & Partners describe it as; ‘A series of car free hill towns in an unspoilt setting of oak forests, meadows and river gorges, the development will create a year-round community for up to 15,400 residents. The residential clusters are tightly packed and integrated into the contours of the landscape, preserving the majority of the site as virgin terrain’.
But according to the Bulgarian environmental partnership, For the Nature, the area is under threat from over development. The group claims that the area’s seaside habitat including dunes, rocks, estuaries, lagoons and forests could be harmed by such a large development.
‘Currently the Bulgarian government completely ignores its obligation to the nature conservation directives for these protected sites. Consequently many of the supposedly safeguarded zones are on their way to being destroyed by thousands of small and large construction projects, a spokesman said.
‘Authorities seem unconcerned that public opinion polls show an overwhelming concern for preserving these areas,’ he added.
Madara is now seeking investment partners but the real estate outlook in Bulgaria is gloomy. Property prices have fallen by about 20% from 2008 with two bedroom apartments going for as little as €55,000.