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In 2000, the reorganisation of the Federal Building Construction Department culminated in the transfer of non-military state-owned properties from the Republic of Austria to the Federal Property Department Bundesimmobilien Ges m.b.H. (BIG). However, approximately 65 significant and unique historic buildings (e.g. Hofburg Vienna, Hofburg Innsbruck, Hohensalzburg Castle, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna State Opera, Schönbrunn Zoo) remained within the public sector, as they constitute Austria's cultural heritage or have special significance for the Republic of Austria. As a result of this reorganisation, the Burghauptmannschaft in Vienna, which was then renamed Burghauptmannschaft Österreich (BHÖ), took charge of a considerable number of objects and its scope of responsibility increased. In very general terms, the BHÖ is now responsible for property administration and construction management of all those objects and properties in Austria which are owned by the Republic and administered by the Federal Ministry of Economy and Labour.

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Many of these objects were not transferred to the BIG, but remained in the ownership of the Republic of Austria for a number of reasons, such as their limited scope of use (inter alia buildings with especially low or high ceilings, or monuments), existing international and legal provisions (e.g. with respect to church institutions, or international organisations), or their use for political or sovereign purposes by the supreme bodies of the Republic (including the buildings reserved for the Federal President and the Federal Chancellor as well as the Constitutional and Supreme Administrative Court).

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Furthermore, due to strict regulations concerning monument protection and their structural particularities, these objects could not be transferred to the private sector and remained in the ownership of the Republic of Austria. Refinancing any construction works via rental agreements in line with market requirements or any profitable utilisation of these objects would simply not be possible.

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Our experts at the BHÖ conserve the building structure as well as administer and protect the buildings in order to preserve this invaluable cultural heritage. Besides property management, the BHÖ also undertakes the entire construction management and a variety of extra services such as increased fire and object protection as well as administrative and cultural management (concerning inter alia protests, demonstrations in public places).Carrying out all these tasks alone, the BHÖ harnesses synergies and only by doing so can it ensure the best possible administration of these cultural assets.
These services cannot be contracted out to private firms for the following reasons: When carrying out any services, strict safety requirements apply for those buildings.
Furthermore, the services required are highly specific in nature and the costs they require on the free market are exceedingly high.

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Among the buildings and properties the BHÖ is in charge of, there are numerous objects housing former public departments and entities which are now no longer under federal administration (Federal Museums, Schönbrunn Zoo, Spanish Riding School etc.). Yet, as the new private companies lacked internal funding, the objects themselves were not transferred to their property. Instead, the companies were granted rights of use (rent, lease and usufruct). This allows the BHÖ to generate revenue for the Republic of Austria. However, given the restricted usability of these buildings, the revenue is fairly low and cannot be used to finance building rehabilitation. Furthermore, as such companies also generally lack the required knowledge and experience (especially in construction engineering), it would neither be possible nor reasonable to fully transfer the objects, inclusive of responsibilities in the field of building rehabilitation.

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Affected by the federal government's strict budget policy and the cuts involved, the BHÖ found it necessary to introduce innovative measures to reduce the administrative burden (i.e. organisational change and the introduction of modern business methods) as well as modern funding models (including private-public-partnership).
In the case of the public outdoor pool "Schönbrunner Bad", for example, operation has been ensured through investment by the BHÖ as the owner, by Schloss Schönbrunn as the usufructuary and a private operator as the user.

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Finally, it is not appropriate to apply free market principles to judge the BHÖ in terms of professional object and property management. Instead, macroeconomic viewpoints and common interests need to be considered. Accordingly, the following conclusions can be drawn:

  • By performing construction work, the BHÖ actively contributes to maintaining the cityscape (especially in Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck), which, in turn, has positive effects on city tourism.)
  • To a large extent, restoration and rehabilitation work cannot be accomplished by "regular" building companies, but need to be done by experts in architecture and restoration instead. In this regard, the BHÖ helps to keep small enterprises in business and old crafts alive and, thus, ensures employment opportunities in these niche segments of the industry.
     

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Letzte Änderung am: 03.03.2014

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