Lipót could be turned into sports centre or spa hotel

A sports or medical centre could take the place of the national institute of psychiatry and neurology, which has been closed down. Experts put the value of the country's second-largest building complex between one and twenty billion forints, but they say the preservation easement that was placed on the property last year has reduced its value.
Szigeti Ildikó, 2008. május 26. hétfő, 23:59

Only condition-preserving works can be carried out on the property of the National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology (OPNI), which was closed down at the end of last year. Fearing property speculators, the local government of the 2nd district passed a decree prohibiting any modifications being made to the property complex, which is the second largest in the country after Parliament. The easement can be terminated only in the spring of 2010 at the earliest, meaning that until then, not even a window can be replaced on the property, which is already in pretty bad shape.

Meanwhile, it turns out that the room for storing explosives and hazardous chemicals had been left unattended, and its walls have also cracked and are leaking. Zoltán Tasnádi, the ministry commissioner responsible for the liquidation of OPNI, recently arranged to have the hazardous materials moved elsewhere, but it is not known precisely what kind of materials are seeping into the soil from the building. The operator of the building complex says it would be too early to give up on the fate of the "Lipót," which is located in a unique natural environment. The local government of the 2nd district is working hard on a new regulatory plan, which would stipulate what kind of new function the property could serve after the easement is terminated.

Reconstruction could bring a return in ten-fifteen years

According to current plans, a sports centre or a spa hotel could be set up on the 40-hectare site, which is surrounded by ancient trees, said Balázs Balaton, a spokesman for the district. He added that the only certainty is that the local government does not want a residential park to be built on the site, because they would like to preserve its original function as a place of treatment and curing. The idea of a residential complex is also being discarded because it would mean several thousand flats being built on the huge area, which would also bring with it several thousand cars. This would increase further the already heavy traffic on Hűvösvölgyi Road, and room for the parking of these cars would also have to be taken care of.

Balázs Balaton also told us that there are already completed plans for the future use of OPNI, which were prepared by the workers of Lipót, with some outside help. The property development and zoning plan was approved by the district's previous mayor, the Socialist Csaba Horváth, but the document has been buried in a desk in one of the offices of the property's owner, the Ministry of Health. According to the spokesman, the proposal would have seen a new building being built with the involvement of private capital next to the central building, which is generally known as the "yellow building." This new section would have been operated as a paying hospital.

Balázs Balaton believes the statements made recently by new minister Tamás Székely at his committee hearings have no basis. Referring to OPNI, Székely said that as a former treasury commissioner at Lipót, he was of the opinion that the building complex cannot be renewed economically. The spokesman, however, has declared that according to the plan submitted to the ministry, if the property is adequately reconstructed, the money invested could be recouped in ten-fifteen years. The cost of the project was estimated at 20 billion forints.

Property experts are quite mixed as to what the value of the OPNI building complex could be. Some say its market value could exceed even 20 billion forints, but others say it is worth much less, because only a limited part of it can be built-in, and any reconstruction would have to adhere to strict rules pertaining to the protection of historic buildings. However, all experts agree that the preservation easement could reduce its price signifi cantly, by as much as 30 percent.