New Approaches to Urban Renewal in Tehran: Experience of Khazaneh Facilitation Office

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

1 Department of Social Planning, University of Tehran

2 Managing Director, Naqsh-e Sarzamin Co., Tehran

3 Social Planner, Tehran

Abstract

The Iranian government has placed new emphasis on urban renewal through participatory approaches in recent years. The main target areas are called deteriorated urban fabrics, characterized by micro-lots, impenetrability, and lack of sustainability. In Tehran, renovation of deteriorate urban fabrics has been initiated through dedicated neighborhood facilitation offices. This paper analyzes the activities and achievements of the Khazaneh Facilitation Office (KFO) in Tehran based on information obtained from office records and first-hand experiences of the initiative’s manager and facilitators. Findings indicate that contradictions between the city’s detailed plan and deteriorated fabric designations as well as unresolved tenure/title issues can act as major obstacles to renewal. Yet, carrying out enabling initiatives, upgrading the built environment, and providing residents with renovation-related legal, social, and financial services can prove successful in gaining the community’s trust and jump-starting renovation activities. Due to low prices of land in Khazaneh in the initial period of KFO’s activities, the offered incentive package had not been automatically attractive to investors/builders for entering renovation partnerships with home-owners. Additional strategies were thus required, including advocacy and knowledge dissemination, encouraging investors/builders to pool resources, and developing large-scale commercial side-projects to activate renewal. The actual number of renovations directly managed by KFO remained low due to shortages of trusted investors as well as bank loans. Yet, as a result of a subsequent rise in land prices as well as side services provided by KFO, Khazaneh is now experiencing significant renewal activities.

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