By BOHEMIST STAFF
PRAGUE – A brightly lit, 60-meter tall, circus wheel on the banks of Vlatava River in the heart of Prague seems less likely to be an attraction, and more likely to be an eyesore, but this is the intention of the Prague 5 municipal government.
In the coming days Prague 5 will be looking to ink an agreement with special purpose company Timsbury Capital to construct the enormous observation wheel in Smichov.
A representative from the company was quoted as saying the wheel would bring a ‘wow factor’ to Prague, “A wheel attracts the attention of virtually everyone, it takes your breath away.”
Prague 5 councillor Martin Slabý said he believed the wheel would attract many tourists to Prague, presumably the type of tourists who simply will not bother visiting any place without an obnoxious observation wheel.
“I believe that conservationists will have understanding for the project,” Slabý said.
This, however, appears to be a largely misguided belief.
The department of conservation and even the Mayor of Prague herself have all spoken out against the project, the former stating that any development in that area in Prague requires national permission as the view is UNESCO heritage listed. It seems these small matter of UNESCO heritage and government permission are a bit too pesky for Prague 5 and their mates at Timsbury Capital.
Former deputy mayor Luke Budin also questioned how the riverfront location was able to be privately leased to Timsbury Capital.
Timsbury Capital has purportedly already signed a lease for 56,500 czk per month until 31 December 2026.
He’s not the only one asking questions. Global corruption watchdog Transparency International came down pretty heavy on Timsbury as well, issuing a report yesterday: ‘Who’s spinning the Ferris Wheel in Smichov?’
The report drew links between the owners of Timsbury and Cardio-Point Inc., a dubious operation associated, TI alleges, with overpriced hospital contracts that have previously come under fire.
TI reported Timsbury to have a registered capital of just 12,500 czk, despite the project contract being valued at 200 million.
“It feels very untrustworthy for a project for more than 200 million to be entrusted to a company whose capital would cover the cost of ice on a mountain bike. In addition, [the people who] stand behind those investments have in the past came under scrutiny by the public for malpractice in the management of public funds,” Milan Eibl, an analyst at TI, said in the report.
This is not the first bizarre city beautification initiative of Prague 5. Several years ago the council earmarked 21 million in funds to build 245 large concrete flower pots throughout the district. However, the funds, and the flower pots for that matter, seem to have run away together.