First Published: 2017-03-29

Demolition of decades-old Beirut brewery begins
Brasserie du Levant, factory which brewed Lebanese beer Laziza for decades, being demolished to make way for luxury apartment complex.
Middle East Online

Laziza Brewery in eastern district of the Lebanese capital Beirut

BEIRUT - Demolition of one of the Middle East's oldest breweries began this week in the Lebanese capital to make way for a luxury apartment complex, a project that has irked activists.

Bulldozers worked atop the roof of the Brasserie du Levant on Wednesday, knocking down portions of the massive concrete building as neighbours looked on quietly.

Established in the 1930s, the factory brewed the Lebanese beer Laziza for decades before closing in the mid-1990s.

In its place will come "Mar Mikhael Village" -- dozens of apartments and townhouses, as well as retail spaces, named after the eastern district that has become a hybrid of loud bars and sleepy residential streets.

Residents of the neighbourhood have already begun complaining about the noise pollution and dusty construction site created by the project.

In designs posted on the architectural firm's website, the sleek development continues to feature the arched sign reading "Levant Brewery" that hung at the complex's entrance for decades.

But a video posted online by local activist Ghassan Salameh on Tuesday showed bulldozers knocking the sign back down onto the roof, producing a cloud of dust.

"It got really real when we started seeing the sign come down and the windows being dismantled," Salameh said.

He said he was working to organise residents into a campaign "with the sole purpose of asking a few questions."

Many older local residents believed the building was simply being renovated or would be turned into dorms for university students, he said.

"No one told them what roads will be closed, what kind of machinery will come into the neighbourhood, what kind of noise they'll have to endure for years," he said.

Activists have started a Facebook page to post updates about the demolition and organise opposition to it.

"The historic character of the neighbourhood... will be under threat," it warns.

"We demand the immediate halting of the demolition."

Activists and Beirut residents have long lamented the rampant pace of new development, at the expense of the city's existing architecture including elegant Lebanese villas.

Despite an economic downturn caused in part by the conflict in neighbouring Syria, a construction boom that began at the end of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war shows little sign of slowing.

In 2010, the culture ministry said just 400 old mansions and buildings were left in the capital, from more than 1,200 inventoried in 1995.

 

Dubai ruler uses poetry to urge Qatar turnabout

Rome struggling to stem migrant influx by sea

Nearly 80 police hurt in latest Morocco’s Rif unrest

Yemen cholera outbreak shows signs of slowing

Lebanon’s grocery business booming thanks to refugees

Rosaries and rifles as Christians face jihadists in Syria

Yemen battle for central province sees troops, rebels killed

Fears stirred over planned location of Lebanon dam

Iraq military says it has retaken iconic Mosul mosque

Egypt announces new sharp increase in fuel prices

Mosul rescuers risk lives to find buried civilians

Gulf crisis taking its toll on Asian workers in Saudi

Children in the lead as families escape Raqa

Turkey remembers Istanbul airport attack

30 civilians dead in Syria air strikes

Celebrating Eid al-Fitr, even if worries abound

Libya’s cash crisis worsens three years into civil war

Turkish army clashes with Kurdish militia in Syria

Qatar says Garcia Report 'vindicates' 2022 bid

US Supreme Court to decide on Iran artifact case

US court halts deportations of Iraqi nationals

Saudi insists demands on Qatar non-negotiable

Hamas says travel documents for sick Gazans being refused

Former Syrian defence minister Mustafa Tlass dies in Paris

Over 8,000 migrants rescued in Med in 48 hours

Iran says US reinstating travel ban 'regrettable'

GCC construction outlook to improve with oil prices recovery and implementation of reforms

57 dead in US-led strikes on IS Syria prison

Kremlin denounces US ‘threats’ against Assad

Mattis says US wants to steer clear of war in Syria

Mali activists call for referendum to be abandoned

Iraq forces battle deep into devastated Old Mosul

Iraqi forces control two thirds of Mosul Old City

Banned Bahraini newspaper fires staff

New crown prince widely welcomed in Saudi Arabia

Assad leads Eid prayers in Syria’s Hama

Lone-wolf attacks raise concern about new trend in terror

Erdogan slams Saudi demands of Qatar as illegal

Sudan making 'positive' steps on meeting US sanctions terms

Mecca suicide bombing injures six

Gulf crisis heats up as Qatar receives list of demands

Suicide attacks kill at least three people in Mosul

Civilians killed in Iraq suicide bomb attacks

UN warns Yemen cholera outbreak could infect 300,000 by September

Putin launches deep-water phase of TurkStream pipeline