We often associate the term “brownfield” with forgotten dilapidated buildings and areas without positive utilization. Presently, however, investors and the public have begun viewing brownfields from a different perspective. People are starting to view these areas as unique opportunities for development, and so, brownfields are becoming increasingly sought after by developers and companies. These entities now often prefer construction in brownfields as opposed to meadows, which is also in line with modern ecological efforts. The potential of these unused buildings and areas was the subject of the 15th annual conference, “Brownfields as Opportunities”, hosted by MSID, the Moravian-Silesian Region and the Institute For Sustainable Development of Settlements.This year the conference was symbolically held in one of Ostrava’s most iconic brownfields, in what used to be the kitchen of Ostrava’s former and most luxurious hotel Palace, which highlighted the event’s unique atmosphere. The attendees, composed of developers, architects and municipal representatives, were presented with the overall vision for the Moravian-Silesian region’s transformation, the new direction of MSID, and the POHO 2030 program.Further blocks of the conferences were dedicated to completed, ongoing and scheduled regenerations of brownfields around the region. The importance of brownfield development in the context of city prosperity was then presented by the representatives of Ostrava and Opava. Slezan Holding, from Frýdek Místek, later highlighted brownfield projects in the private sector, which was followed by a presentation about the ongoing reconstruction of the former shopping center Ostravica-Textilia. Attendees were also given information about current and planned options for brownfield regeneration financing in our region.
The following day, guests were taken on a tour around brownfields, dubbed the “Brownfield Trip.” This experience included a number of successful examples of how life was brought back into brownfields. Participants were presented with other inspiring examples of how these spaces can be used as well. They visited the Neumann brother’s laundromat, the exhibition of the Slezan Textile company history, the location of a future boulevard in Frýdek Místek and the Palkovická barracks.
The original Hotel National building from 1913 was constructed on the grounds of the city’s first inn from 1779, called “By the Green Tree” (U Zeleného Stromu). The building, which at the time boasted Europe-wide fame, was designed by the Vienna architect Wunibald Deininger, and was inspired by the decorative style which was gaining popularity at the time. The construction of this hotel, and its 80 suites, temporarily filled the gap in accommodation in the industrial city had at that time. The ground floor had a restaurant and multiple private club rooms, while the two upper floors contained guest rooms. The luxurious hotel also had a bar, called Amerikan, which hosted the hotel orchestra and a sweets shop with a ladies salon.
The hotel’s first reconstruction and expansion project, which increased its capacity to 160 rooms was spearheaded by famous coffee shop owners Ferdinand and Jacob Gronner, who purchased the hotel in 1928. While these changes were underway, a new wing was also constructed for the hotel, including a large coffee shop. These four buildings then made up a complex, which became known under the familiar name Hotel Palace. The famous Palace cafe first opened in 1930, along with the Boccaccio bar in its basement, which hosted dance performances daily.
After 1945, the hotel was nationalized, and became a part of the Interhotels Čedok national enterprise. Later, in the 60s, the complex underwent a tasteless reconstruction. After the turn of the century, the NBC developer company gained ownership of the hotel, and in 2008, it received the city’s approval in the demolition of most of the complex despite their original intentions of remodeling it.
The complex was finally saved in 2010, when it was acquired by the Sedm Stromů company, which, in spite of complications this brought them, persisted in realizing their Kampus Palace project. The project cost over a hundred million Czech crowns thus far, and included the construction of 111 guest rooms, ranging from single suites to triple rooms. Up to 260 students at a time have found a temporary home here since 2016. Presently, after the Sedm Stromů company split, the complex is owned by Palace Holding and operated by Kampus Palace. The large marble staircase is practically all that is left of the original hotel’s interior. Some parts of the complex still remain unused, which offers the opportunity for the expansion of the already existing student accommodation in the center of Ostrava.