The St. Georges Hotel in Beirut is a landmark building constructed in the late 1920s. Parisian architect Auguste Perret came to Beirut to design the building with Antoine Tabet, and the hotel has maintained its character ever since, despite the ravages it had endured during the civil war.
In recent years, towering structures and marina development have overshadowed the landmark – rendering the sensitivity around its construction just a little less “important.”
The explosion that took the life of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005 caused even more serious damages to the building that was being under restoration at the time. A bronze statue of Rafik Hariri stands nearby as a memorial.
Work to renovate and reopen the hotel had since stalled in a dispute with Solidere, and the hotel has remained closed.
Now, more than a decade later, Beirut’s municipality has finally granted the St. Georges Hotel’s owner, Fadi Khoury, the license to rebuild and reconstruct the iconic hotel that had lived years of glory, pre-war time.
The real estate battle, which began with PM Rafic Hariri and then persisted when PM Saad Hariri took over, has made the landmark even more popular, with its infamous giant “Stop Solidere” banner becoming a part of everyone’s morning.
Although the owner of the hotel has been granted the necessary license in order to begin work on this project, the St. George Hotel has unfortunately lost its historic bay to Solidere and the Zaitunay Bay in its decades-long battle.
Renovations and construction will definitely give us a glimpse into the genius that will go into rebuilding the hotel and its reputation as one of the most recognizable buildings in all of Beirut.
Owner Fadi Khoury remains optimistic (along with being the world’s most patient man). He said in a public statement that, although the situation at the moment does not necessarily call for such a project to enter into development, “this is the best era for the St. Georges, even though we’re going bankrupt.”