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While change is sometimes perceived as disruptive, it is not always the case. And indeed, there are projects in the pipeline that promise to shape Budapest for the better. This year, the completion of the Ministry of Finance and the headquarters of the Hungarian Red Cross Society is on the horizon, and we eagerly anticipate the development of People's Park, which we hope will soon take shape.
Reconstructions of monuments
This year will be more about work in progress on monument reconstruction than about the dumping of completed buildings. But it is certain that one of the more ambivalent projects in the 2nd district, the Radetzky Barracks development, will be completed. Reborn as the Bem Center, the building will house a five-star hotel and an office block. It was not simply renovated; all but the main facade was demolished. Although it was opened in the autumn of 2023, and we were able to see the lower floors then, the Corvin Palace will be fully completed this year, so we're looking forward to seeing what the renewed interior and the new courtyard will look like. Further palace buildings in Budapest are under renovation, and we look forward to seeing how the Saxlehner Palace, Dreher Palace, Mocsányi Palace, and Kincsem Palace are progressing this year.
Although the renovation of the Merlin Theatre was completed in 2023, no decision has yet been made on its operation; we look forward to its opening this year. As well as to the start of the – repeated – renovation of the ill-fated Rác Baths. The first phase of the revamp of the headquarters of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) is likely to be completed this autumn, including the return of the sphinxes to the gable.
The reconstruction of the Palace of Justice and the Ministry of Agriculture is continuing, as is the Nyugati Railway Station, which is nearing completion, and the renovation of the Gellért Hotel is expected to start this year. It remains to be seen whether the refurbishment of the interior of the Hunyadi tér Market Hall and the long-closed and scaffolded Museum of Applied Arts will get underway – the latter would be a welcome development for the whole of Budapest.
Transport, public space, and urban greening
It looks as if the H5 (Szentendre) HÉV (suburban railway) renovation could start this year, as the public procurement could be launched by March. There is a chance that the redevelopment of the central Harminckettesek tere could start this year, as well as the construction of the Törőcsik Mari Memorial. The development of the Feneketlen Lake Park and its surroundings started last year. Residents' needs have been assessed and this year will see, among other things, the preparation of a concept plan, the development of the playground in the area, and the installation of a public toilet. The redevelopment of Bacsó Béla utca will start soon, not only to make it pedestrian-friendly, but also to install new paving, a new tree line, and street furniture, as well as improvements to Krúdy utca and Mária utca. The Dankó Yard in the downtown 8th district, Józsefváros, will be opened as a test run in the spring, including the sports field.
As soon as one big investment in Budapest comes to an end, another one starts, but let's see what's still going on! In the Castle District, the handover of the restored buildings will start this year, with the Ministry of Finance expected to start the line. By the end of the year, the headquarters of the Red Cross Society will be completed as part of the National Hauszmann Programme, while the restoration of Buda Castle's northern wing will begin and the stripped-down interior of the 1960s will be restored to its turn-of-the-century form. We do not know whether the building of the Honvéd High Command will be completed this year, but work on this and the Archduke Joseph's Palace will continue. Work on the Citadel is also underway this year, but it is unlikely to be completed until 2025.
Although the city already has a skyscraper, it looks like another tower is planned for Budapest: construction work on the new MBH Bank headquarters, including a 90-metre tower block, will start this year at the Pest end of the Árpád Bridge. We are curious to see what will happen to Rákosrendező (the outskirts of Budapest's Zugló district, next to the M3 highway) and what plans for the development of the brownfield site will be unveiled this year, as well as the new urban district of Zugló. The latter is being built next to Bosnyák tér and will include a residential building, a shopping centre, and seven office buildings, called Zugló City Centre. The 168-apartment residential building is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2024, while work on 5 office buildings is also underway.
At the end of last year, it was announced that the new campus of the Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church, where law and psychology courses will be held, would be built on Markusovszky tér in Ferencváros (the downtown part of the 9th district), and a design competition has already been launched, with the results due in May this year.
Meanwhile, construction work on the new Mathias Corvinus Collegium building on Gellért Hill has also started, with the first phase of demolition of the headquarters of the National Command of the Workers' Militia, later the National Police Headquarters, and finally, the Balassi Institute, designed by Margit Pázmándi.
There will be no shortage of plans and works this year, Budapest will once again undergo many changes, and it will be worth keeping an eye on the city's progress this year.