Jamal Itani speaks during an interview with The Daily Star in Beirut, Friday, April 29, 2016. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Beirut Mayor Jamal Itani said Thursday that the recent New Year's Eve celebration in Beirut's downtown had been the first step in reviving the area, especially around Nijmeh Square.Itani said that in the golden days of Beirut's downtown – circa 2004, after the area had been redesigned and rebuilt following the devastation of the Civil War – it had boasted around 550 establishments, including restaurants and shops.Itani indicated Thursday that he was personally working towards bringing business back to central Beirut, saying he had talked to businessmen and told them he could potentially offer them lower rent on spaces in the downtown area.Regarding transport, Itani said that roughly 700,000 cars enter Beirut every day, 400,000 of which enter via the city's eastern entrance.Itani noted that although the construction would begin in 2018, the parking lots would be completed in two to three years.
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