Zagreb’s Arash Repač Investing 90 Million Kuna into Prvić

Lauren Simmonds

Just eighteen people under the age of fifty remain on the island of Prvić.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sasa Paparella writes on the 24th of April, 2018, on Prvić, an island of the Šibenik archipelago, the number of inhabitants is seemingly unstoppably falling. From the former 4000, just over 200 of them remain today.

Prvić lies just a few hundred metres away from Vodice, and the popular Dalmatian tourist city of Šibenik isn’t far away, inticing many of the native islanders to move in their droves to the mainland. On the picturesque island, which is under the tutelage of a conservator, there is no serious employer to offer a glimmer of hope to the residents. Now, however, a concrete opportunity for revitalisation has finally emerged.

Zagreb’s Arash Repač, a manager at Lukoil’s Turkish office, plans to build a hotel and a marina in Prvić Šepurine village, and these projects separated the villagers into two blocks.

“We intend to invest more than 90 million kuna in order to preserve the island and halt the emigration. Only 18 people under the age of 50 remain on Prvić, and there once existed a factory, three butcher shops, a doctor’s office, and now there’s nothing left of it. We want the island to become an example of self-sustaining development, and we plan on dealing with other facilities, such as sailing schools and summer schools for foreign languages, which would be free for Prvić’s kids,” stated Repač, who has been living abroad for years himself.

When asked who would invest in this welcome and praiseworthy project, he replied: “For the time being, I’m the only interested investor, and I’ll finance all of the projects with loans and funds. I’d like to find someone who is willing to enter into such a venture and I’m constantly in contact with investors from different countries.”

As a problem, he pointed out the fact that Prvić hasn’t resolved its problems with its infrastructure, the cost of which is extortionate. The planned hotel aims to employ twenty people, and he has stated the plot is already ready, and now a study of profitability needs to be undertaken.

“It’s a small hotel of up to forty rooms designed for family tourism,” he stated. The marina, he states, is vital for the development of the island, adding that the process of obtaining an analysis of the cost-effectiveness of the investment is underway. Nevertheless, a significant amount of Prvić’s inhabitants are staunchly against Repač’s big plans, especially with regard to the marina project.

“The competent conservation department has given a negative opinion in regard to these projects, although that’s binding, the authorities in Vodice, the municipality under which our MO Prvić Šepurine belongs, have ignored it.

“More than 400 signatures of Prvić locals and owners of property on the island don’t accept the construction of the marina, this must be respected,” stated Branimir Vlahov, one of the members of the local initiative working against the announced projects.

“There are already three marinas in the immediate vicinity, a nautical marina brings nothing but destruction and the wire that encloses it, because all the money – communal fees, contribution, VAT, all goes to either the municipality of Vodice or to higher levels of government. Ninety berths, which will serve the locals, and the money can be obtained from the MPPI and the EU’s Cohesion and Competitiveness Fund, and it’s essential that the marina is self-sustainable and that it isn’t a commercial type. And if we throw in the docks, that falls into infrastructure, so it’s even easier to get money. From this, a small communal harbour would get 300,000 kuna a year,” Vlahov noted. It seems that many of the locals share the same views. In the recent elections for the Prvić Šepurine Local Committee, Danijela Antulov’s list, which opposes ambitious projects, won.

Antulov defeated a list whose head was Lino Vlahov, a lobbyist for Arash Repač and the brother of our interlocutor Branimir Vlahov. Lino Vlahov organised a petition and collected 190 signatures in the name of the large marina, but his brother Branimir claims it to have been fraudulent, apparently because they ”gave the people a petition which had a picture of a small marina on the cover, then replaced it with big picture, so some people have now withdrawn their signatures.”

This is how the ”big marina” entered the county plan back in 2015, then into the town plan of Vodice, and finally into the spatial plan of Prvić Šepurine. Despite the odds being stacked against them opponents of the project haven’t abandoned hope. “It’s not over yet, they need to get a location permit, and then the port’s boundaries have to be drawn, but all this will be difficult because they’ll need an ecological study, one already exists, and going by that, there’s no place for a big port in Prvić Šepurine,” stated a determined Branimir Vlahov.

Repač however claims that the nautical marine’s opponent is a bit. “The great majority of Prvić’s residents have supported the proposal of the marina since the year 2003. The City of Vodice has always supported us, and the MO has been actively assisting us since 2003. In the last elections for the Mayoral Committee in February, all the candidates publicly supported the marina project, and it’s included in the adopted MO plan. The ones who don’t share our opinion on the project are mostly temporary users of space close to the future planned marina.

”Most of them mistakenly think that a mega marina with 200 berths will be built there, which is inaccurate and not possible,” stated Repač. Prvić residents who oppose his projects point out the fact that they are not against development itself, this has been shown as the hotel project was acceptable to them, but is no longer receiving their support since they heard rumours of alleged threats to land owners who didn’t want to sell their plots.

They were also unhappy to discover that during the preparation of the spatial plan in the Municipality of Vodice, a local road was removed, all so that the hotel’s investor would have access to the sea. Some dissatisfied Prvić residents also claim that Repač purchased agricultural land, which was subsequently converted into building plots, which he vehemently denied: “I’ve got no agricultural land, nor have I had any agricultural land that was later converted. All my land was in the building zone before the purchase and has remained as such.”


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