October 21, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

Another One Bites the Dust

As I walked home from work, I noticed that yet another one of the old Beirut buildings is being demolished. I cannot show you what ‘old’ looks like, since I don’t have a picture of it on file, but many of the older buildings in the Hamra area are the residential types of three floors and apartments on both sides of the central staircase.
With ground prices still going up, 6 families (often on old rent contracts) per plot of land obviously do not rake in the same benefits as 12 families, which is what I assume will come in its place; a 12 (or more, depending on the size of the lot) stories super-deluxe apartment building.
Super deluxe here means with a room for the maid, 2 to 3 parking spaces per floor, a driver’s quarter, two living-rooms (what on earth would you need two living rooms for?) and a full bathroom per bedroom.
To imagine that I grew up in a household with 6 to one-and-a-half bathroom; we had line-ups in the morning before the shower. It teaches you patience and organizational skills, two things that are vital out in the real world.

The Rebar Recovery Boys in the front
(they use the gas bottles to cut up the steel rods in more managable pieces)

When we bought our apartment some 9 years ago, prices hovered around the $1,000 per square meter here in Hamra. These days, these same places go for $2,000 to $4,000, depending on the age of the building. A view will add to the price, seaside location will probably be double that. My house has tripled in value in less than ten years. And with global warming, I might even become seaside!

It’s sad though, since most of the new apartment buildings do not even seem filled up. The 16 story building that was constructed some 6 years ago opposite my house has only 4 apartments lit at any given time. The rest is sold (to whom?), but un-occupied.

Work by Hand (almost)

The demolishing process is quite interesting to watch. One operates the machine, two guys get the rebar (steel rods) out of the rubble, which will be sold to the scrap metal dealer, and the rest supervises while drinking tea and smoking nargileh (water pipe). Sometimes you even see them do this by hand, with these huge sledge hammers. This work – by the way – is not done by Lebanese, but mainly by Syrians. I do not quite get this. The youth unemployment rate among, especially the poor, is quite rampant here, and I assume that you do not need a whole lot of skills to demolish a building. So how come they cannot find Lebanese to do the job?

This was once somebody's family home

But I digress. This afternoon I witnessed how yet another one of Beirut’s – maybe not so historical but still adding to the local flavor of the town – buildings bit the dust.


Mich said...

So sad! Will post the link on the Save Beirut Heritage Facebook Group.

me said...

It is sad to see beautiful building demolished.

Kheireddine said...

On Sadat St?

Habib Battah said...

Thanks for posting. Trying to figure out the location, is it parallel to Bliss? Would be great if someone could post 'before' pics. Maybe someday we could all contribute to an online archive. I have a few similar posts my site and plenty more unpublished pictures.

xlpharmacy reviews said...

It is a shame that traditional and classic buildings are demolished.