I found yet more abandoned houses downtown, and now I've additional information about them because of a news article published in Fréttablaðið a while ago. The new information was surprising and didn't really explain anything, only made me double the curious. You see, I thought these houses were perhaps owned by the city or private people. Both could be in a situation where they would like to ignore something like a house of theirs slowly rotting away. The city because it has so many other things to handle, and private people because - well. Sometimes people aren't able to afford to renovate a house or have it torn down and at the same time they could be unwilling to sell it f.ex. because of feeling attached to a place. It's so easy to keep thinking you'll do something about it when you have more time, money, strength, whatever it is you're lacking.
This house is right next to a nice looking restaurant by the way.
However, these abandoned houses - at least a grand majority of them - belong to companies. This is mind-boggling. One would think companies are first and foremost interested in money and what they're doing with the houses is definitely the least profitable thing possible!
It's also dangerous. Many of these houses have broken windows and random bits hanging off of them, some are badly damaged in fire which makes them double the dangerous because there's just no telling which bit collapses first.
Art on one of the boarded-up windows.
So. A company owns property right in the middle of Iceland's capital city. Property gets damaged. Result?
No fixing the property while there still was time.
No tearing down (and possibly re-building) for those that are too damaged for fixing.
No selling them even though the pieces of land they're sitting on are worth a whole lot of money even during the depression.
Instead, keeping them as eyesores in the busy tourist area, just waiting for a potentially expensive accident to happen. That such accidents could come costly is something I thought first when I realized the ownership of these buildings and wondered. And wondered more. People live in these buildings, to name the biggest risk group. Or you know, go there to shoot up their arm. But even if you wrote them off as sub-human junkies, there's the other big risk group - the tourists. Have a window pane fall on an American one and you'll soon think the depression was much easier.
Kids sure get creative with abandoned houses...
Anyway, since the names of the companies were already published, I can do it too! :D Let's see... by the way, if I make any big mistakes here feel free to correct me. My Icelandic isn't that good yet.
The second photo from the top - and the first abandoned building - belongs to F-16 ehf.
The second house is private-owned.
The third one didn't have any info, but the fourth one belongs to Festar ehf. so I suspect Festar ehf. could own it as well because it's a wall-to-wall neighbour to the fourth. The fifth, the burned red one, belongs to Festar ehf. too.
Festar ehf. originally wanted to either sell these houses for some other company that would have torn them down and built something in their stead, possibly large tower buildings or so I've read online with my poor Icelandic skills. The other option (my Icelandic skills indeed are poor) is that they wanted to build those themselves. Then came the depression and all building new houses halted, and then came the talks about banning the tower buildings from the downtown area, so it's possible that the potential buyer backed out of their business talks/the company itself ran out of that option. After that Festar ehf. couldn't produce a plan on what to build instead of these husks so they were banned from tearing them down, and the company is now bankrupt so expect nothing.
(By the way, some people online have remarked how lucky it was for the original plans that the red house accidentally caught fire that started at three different spots at the same time.)
The tiny yellow one next belongs to Samtímalist ehf. The only information I can quickly gather is that the company sells art and has galleries. They have already filed for permission to tear the house down and build a four-floor (in Iceland the ground floor is counted in, so in reality three-floor) residential building with shops downstairs. Since the yellow house is sitting on a large plot the house/s they have in mind are going to be much bigger, and it could be there'll be two instead of this one. However, currently this plan is postponed so expect to see that yellow house around for a bit more.
Both houses of this entry belong to S33 ehf. It's listed as a construction contracts company on yellow pages.