New Skeifan Could Be "Like SoHo"

New Skeifan Could Be “Like SoHo”

Published July 10, 2014

Photos by
Páll Hilmarsson

Plans are already in the works to rebuild the Skeifan district of east Reykjavík, only days after a fire raged through several businesses in the area.

Vísir reports that Reykjavík city council is reviewing ideas to change the planning dynamics of Skeifan, a neighbourhood known primarily for small to mid-sized businesses, with about 50% of Skeifan’s total area comprised of parking spaces. While the neighbourhood had been slated to be built up into a more residential area by 2030, last Monday evening a fire spread through several of these businesses, prompting city officials to look into expediting matters.

“The main point is to see that those who experienced a lot of damage [to their businesses] receive compensation,” Hjálmar Sveinsson, the chairperson of the Reykjavík Environment and Planning Committee, told reporters. “That’s number one, two and three. It is true that in the main planning outlines, which are in effect until 2030, it is considered possible that an additional 500 apartments could be built there. Actually, people have been looking at this area for a long time.”

Hjálmar emphasised that he would like to see the neighbourhood be made into a mix of residences, businesses and offices, albeit with planning that takes a different approach than the city has taken in the past.

“I think it’s important that [the rebuilding] is not done the way things have been done all over the city, where everything that was is torn down” he said. “Rather, we want to build new things, but knit them in with what is already there.”

Hjálmar also expressed ambitions to change the district into something comparable to what one might see in New York.

“It is presumed that the district will not be some kind of group of apartment blocks,” he said. “Rather, it will be this fun blend of residences and businesses. Like the famous Meat[packing] District in Manhattan, or SoHo. There is a great opportunity here to build up such a neighbourhood.”

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