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Mammoth Bp investment no longer priority project

A major real-estate investment planned for a Danube island in northern Budapest is no longer classified as priority project from Wednesday, according to a government decree published in the latest issue of the official gazette Magyar Közlöny.

The government made the investment a priority project in March 2009. This means that public administration affairs such as building permits related to the project are managed one level higher, e.g. the regional state administration office instead of the local municipality.

In September this year, after the government set up the county - and Budapest municipal - public administration offices replacing the regional state administration offices, all government decrees affected by the change had to be amended. The investment titled “Álomsziget” (Dream Island) still featured on the list of priority projects.

State secretary Sándor Czomba said in parliament on Tuesday that the previous government declared the controversial King's City casino project and “Álomsziget” as priority projects although the required public objective and conditions did not exist. National Economy Minister György Matolcsy has lifted the confidentiality of the related contract and the documents will soon be published. Matolcsy said the contracts are being examined, including those relating to the sale of the properties concerned and the privatization procedures.

The HUF 400 billion tourism project is to take four years to complete; construction will begin when all permits have been obtained, managing director of the real estate developer company Álomsziget 2004 Sammy S. Smucha told MTI in June 2008. He said the price of the 7-hectare area of the Hadrian's Palace repurchased by the state in 2008 was HUF 1 billion, as specified in the original contract. Under the contract, the area of the palace was to be leased back by the developer for one year, which can be continuously extended, this is why it will spend on the archeological excavation and the establishment of a museum.

The development company won the casino concession offered by the Finance Ministry. “Álomsziget” is to operate 100 gaming tables and 1,000 gambling machines for 20 years, and the concession can be extended by a further ten years. The casino will be operated by Casino Austria, which already operates several casinos in Hungary, the managing director said then.

The tourism complex is to employ 25,000 people, have 3,000 hotel rooms and 1,000 apartments. Of the investment costs, HUF 15 billion is to be spent on developing the infrastructure used by local residents such as a section of the suburban railway, bridges and roads. (MTI – Econews)