The likelihood of the troubled 2864 Bohinj project ever coming to fruition has receded yet further, with several twists in the tale stalling the venture to what now seems to be a terminal standstill.
Mired from the start in a welter of controversy, the Bohinjska Bistrica-based enterprise has for the past five years surmounted every hurdle placed in its path only to find a new one blocking the start of construction of what appears to be an overly ambitious scheme, not in the least because of climate change being a very real issue in Slovenia, where only the significantly more altitudinous Bovec and nearby Vogel above Bohinj being able to offer suitable conditions for winter-sports participants, but even then with important caveats attached. Vogel has a reasonable snow-record but can go for long periods without snowfall, making the pistes at times to be icy and treacherous, especially in the absence of artificial snow-making equipment. Bovec is an entirely different case in point, offering skiing to an altitude of 2200 metres that by no means guarantees apposite conditions but is generally regarded as a relatively snow-sure location. Which, therefore, should make it a thriving resort. Unfortunately, this hasn’t now been the case for several winter seasons due to the stasis of a lift-system’s operation literally being suspended, owing to a thankfully non-fatal accident when several empty gondola carriages fell to earth. It is therefore hard to see how the investors behind the 2864 Bohinj project would see a return on their financial speculation, notwithstanding the absorption into the scheme of the now defunct Kobla resort. Despite not knowing the whys and wherefores relating to Kobla’s demise, it is again difficult to understand how such a large, contentious project could fare any better.
Recent dramatic turn of events have seen the scheme’s building permit revoked, seemingly sounding the death-knell for a vision that has never seen any tangible translation from the drawing-board to spades in the mountainside ground. An unlikely player in the whole story-line has been the Archdiocese of Ljubljana, a landowner whose territory formed part of the tracts of terrain needed to realign the ski slopes for the new venture. The main complaint from the Archdiocese centres upon on the not unreasonable claim that construction on their land is impossible without the investor having a contract to do so. What’s more, the decision of the Administrative Court to revoke the building permit is final, with no recourse to appeal being possible. The waters are muddied yet further by the project’s parent company Bohinj 2864 falling into liquidation, with five years of legal wrangling and at times criminal investigations taking their financial toll on the scheme’s progenitors. As one of the stipulations for funds being allocated to the project that the scheme’s steering group remains solvent, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology have automatically rejected the application for co-financing the venture, on the basis that Bohinj 2864 can no longer adhere to liquidity rules that in affect are in place to protect the State or other co-financiers from an enterprise falling into liquidation, especially during its nascent stages. The decision by the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology seems to have been reached in isolation rather than in conjunction with(or because of) the ruling issued by the Administrative Court although, whether one judgment being served has influenced the other I couldn’t say, without myself having an exact time line of events to work from.
As if all that was’t enough, the umbrella company of which Bohinj 2864 fell under, MPM Engineering, has since defaulted on its liabilities to a point where the “collateralized loan exposure” owed to two Slovenian banks totals a whopping €14.75 million. This has seen its assets in effect placed on the market by the Bank Asset Management Company(BAMC), who through their website are inviting claims for MPM assets which amounts to no less than the 102 room Bohinj Eco Park Hotel and its neighbouring Aqua Dome, both situated in Bohinjska Bistrica. A region that is now tangibly suffering from the lack of hotel rooms since the ruin of both the Bellevue and Zlatorog hotels will surely be reeling from this latest setback. It should though be placed in context against the aforementioned ailing and antiquated Lake Bohinj-based hotels, with the BEP Hotel a far more attractive investment opportunity than the Bellevue and Zlatorog, both of which are nearing the point of no return where demolition changes from being an option to realistically the only course of action left open.
Despite the project’s investors receiving hollow words of comfort from the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology that a reapplication regarding co-financing of the scheme will be considered once conditions relating to liquidity have been satisfied, the facts are that the overreaching nature of the scheme and the controversy that forever dogged it have in the end created a domino effect of financial hardship. Money was presumably drawn via MPM Engineering from the moderately successful business that the Bohinj Eco Park Hotel generated to fund the Bohinj 2864 initiative. Once those funds had been exhausted through a protracted five year process that saw no end product, the liquidation of company Bohinj 2864 was inevitable, albeit if the demise of the BEP Hotel’s holding company has come as a shock. For the 60 or so permanent workers at the hotel and Aqua Dome it is for the time being probably business as usual, with such modern and cutting-edge facilities almost certain to attract a raft of interested parties. It is inconceivable to think of them shutting and falling into disuse but I imagine the same was said about hotels Bellevue and Zlatorog. The key to the future will be as to whether the BAMC can raise the asking price for MPM’s assets or a figure close to it. Otherwise, as has happened elsewhere in Slovenia the process of asset disposal could become bogged down in auctions and even, Dutch auctions.
A real accommodation crisis is in danger of engulfing the Bohinj region should the BEP Hotel’s future become increasingly uncertain. I am though surprised at remarks attributed to Bohinj’s mayor, Franc Kramar, stating the 2864 Bohinj project as being “vital” for the local region. If the whole area is to again flourish it needs to concentrate on improving existing tourist infrastructure, rather than putting all eggs into a white basket bigger than the Slon in Ljubljana. For those not versed in Slovenian the Slon is a well-known hotel in the nation’s capital, its name translated as ‘elephant’. It is surely now time to move on from a project that environmentally and financially just wasn’t meant to be; it is though unfortunate but not unprecedented to see the level of collateral damage its failure seems to have caused.
Further reading on this subject can be viewed at: Gorenjski Glas: Bohinj 2864 project in jeopardy