Laugavegsreitir’s Project Manager Hannes Frímann Sigurðsson paints a slightly different picture.
Hannes does not deny that they’re going through with plans to develop the area which Hjartagarðurinn is part of, but he says that Laugavegsreitir, the subsidiary of the company which owns Hjartagarðurinn, did not break any promises made to Tómas Magnússon, Tanya Pollock and Örn Tönsberg.
He says it was made clear to the trio from the onset that their use of Hjartagarðurinn was a temporary arrangement.
“They’re saying now that they didn’t know, but it was crystal clear from the beginning that it would be only this summer,” Hannes emphasises. “The only thing that I said to them, repeatedly, was don’t do too much because eventually, either this fall or this spring, we’d have to take it away.”
Furthermore, Hannes says he doesn’t recall agreeing to discuss changes before taking action. “That was definitely not our statement. And there was no one else capable of making any promises,” Hannes says of the claims.
Hannes says the City came up with the idea to hand Hjartagarðurinn over to the community in the first place and he is actually complimentary of what has been achieved in this space. “What they’ve shown is that they’re capable of taking on an area like this in Reykjavík, and there are many of them.”
The project manager believes that what Tómas, Tanya and Örn have achieved has opened the eyes of the Reykjavík City Council to the benefits of handing such spaces over to the community. “I told Tanya that I thought they had proved that they are capable of taking a large area like this on, and if The Council would give them another spot like this, they could make the place as beautiful as they made Hjartagarðurinn,” he says.
Now the agenda is, according to Hannes, to make a new square for similar purposes. “It’ll be a public park and every individual can use the square for his own purposes. I’m not sure if they can spray paint the walls, but the hope is that they can use it for music, theatre, whatever they like,” he assures.
Hannes believes the new square will be an improvement on Hjartagarðurinn as it’ll appeal to a wider cross-section of the community. “Not everyone in Reykjavík likes Hjartagarðurinn,” he says.
“It’s a common misunderstanding I think. A lot of people who contact us say what’s happening there has to end. But we are not opinion makers. We don’t take sides.”
Hannes says nothing has been confirmed as to exactly how the space will be developed. Laugavegsreitir have been in contact with several different parties, including a hotel, about the space, but nothing is set in stone. “It’s going to be beautiful in its own way,” he concludes of the upcoming development.
For more on Hjartagarðurinn, see Where Has The Love Gone?