In November 2011, the Sofia City Hall announced a tender for the preparation of an integrated plan for urban restoration and development of the city. The initiative is funded under the Regional Development Operational Program of the European Commission and is worth 709,300 levs. The winning bidder was the Association “Sofia XXI”. It is registered at the following address – 16-20 “Alabin” street. Incidentally, the Chamber of Architects in Bulgaria is also housed there. In reality, Association “Sofia XXI” was chosen to prepare an assignment for the development of a Detailed Development Plan (DDP) or draft amendment (update) of the actual DDP for zones of impact included in the Integrated Plan for Urban Development and Reconstruction of Sofia (IPUDRS). The task was to develop terms of reference for feasibility studies for projects included in IPUDRS, among many other things.

The team of “Sofia XXI” includes some well-known architects. The leader of the project is Vesselina Troeva. She is Director of the National Center for Regional Development. Accidentally or not, the Chief Architect of Sofia Petar Dikov worked many years in the same establishment, when it was still named National Center for Regional and Urban Planning. At one point he was even its Deputy Director General. Architect Yani Valkanov is the project coordinator and a key expert on urban development. He is also the manager of a zone with potential for economic development. Architect Ivo Panteleev is an expert in public centers and public spaces and manager of a zone of public functions with high public importance. He is a Board Member of the Association Societas Urbanum. Architect Atanas Panov from “LP Consult” is the Chairman of the Association. Other members include Architect Kalin Dikov from “Architectonika Studio” – brother of Petar Dikov; the “almost” Minister of Investment Planning, Kalin Tiholov, from the Architectural-Construction Association, about whom Bivol has written on several occasions and Panteleev’s partners from the Architecture and Design Agency, Kristiana Nikolova and Rumen Parvanov, and many other famous architects.

Many more prominent authors, including professors at the University for Architecture, Construction and Urban Planning can be found in “Sofia XXI”. Association “Sofia XXI” completed the assigned tasks and sent them to the Sofia City Hall in October 2013. Four zones were identified. The first includes “Evlogi Georgiev” boulevard, the green areas around Perlovska river and Orlov Most (Eagle’s Bridge) square. Zone two includes “Graf Ignatiev”, “Solunska”, “September 6”, “General Parensov”, “Tsar Shishman” streets and the squares “Slaveykov” and “Garibaldi”. The third zone includes the park in front of the National Theater, the green area around the Russian church and the squares “Alexander I”, “Nikolay Ghyaurov”, “Tsarigradsko Shosse” boulevard, “Rakovska” street and parts of downtown Sofia known as the yellow pavement. The fourth zone extends between the park Crystal, the Parliament, “Tsarigradsko Shosse” and “Levski” boulevards, the streets “Moscovska”, “Oborishte” and “Danube”, the cathedral monument St. Alexander Nevsky and the church St. Sofia. In 2013, the Sofia municipality announced a competition for the four zones of the project titled “Establishment of Project Readiness for Application of the Sofia Municipality under OP Regional Development for the period 2014-2020”. The value of public procurement in the four areas was 2,497,600 levs, where European financing was 2,122,960 levs and the national budget allocated 374,640 levs.

Zone one was won by architect Stefan Dobrev. A reference in the registry shows that Dobrev is partner with Alfonso Salazar Sanchez – husband of the Chief of Staff of former King and Prime Minister Simeon Saxe Coburg – Mia Morero.

The preparation of the projects for the second and fourth zone was assigned to ADA – Architectural Design Atelier (Architectural Design Agency, according, which is managed by three individuals. One of them is Architect Ivo Panteleev -the same who appears as an expert in public centers and public spaces and manager of a zone of public functions with high public importance in the team of “Sofia XXI”.

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Thus, there is the logical question how appropriate it is for someone who has worked on a particular criterion/assignment to participate in the competition for the preparation of a project under this same assignment? And how would the European Commission l assess this situation? The assignment in whose preparation Panteleev was involved is associated with DDP. From a legal standpoint, DDP authors have no copyright on it and do not exert copyright control. This means that although part of the team of “Sofia XXI”, Panteleev will not exert copyright control on himself while designing the look of the second and fourth zones.

However, is there a conflict of interest?

As a co-author of the assignment, Ivo Panteleev, was aware of the tasks that must be addressed before the other participants in the second tender. Moreover, he is part of the team which prepared the parameters that the projects under the “”Establishment of Project Readiness for Application of the Sofia Municipality under OP Regional Development for the period 2014-2020” must adhere to. Is this fact placing him in a favored position, compared to his competitors? Should the Commission for Protection of Competition intervene? Was it right for the Sofia Municipality to allow Architect Ivo Panteleev to apply with a bid project that must fir parameters in whose preparation he was involved and provided that Panteleev is a member of Societas Urbanum, along with Kalin Dikov, the brother of the Chief Architect of Sofia? All these are disturbing facts. Conflict of interest is a topic which in Bulgaria is closely linked with the “fantasy” of the judges panel who would try a similar case.


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