Moscow Mayor Signals Support For Yerevan Redevelopment

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov (Center) and Armenian officials discuss a major redevelopment project in Yerevan

MOSCOW (RFE/RL)–Moscow’s longtime Mayor Yuri Luzhkov expressed on Friday his readiness to attract large-scale Russian investments in a massive redevelopment project in Yerevan unveiled by the Armenian authorities during his visit to Armenia.

It emerged that the authorities plan to build an upscale residential and financial district in place of a rundown neighborhood perched on a hill just outside the city center. Armenian officials spoke of billions of dollars needed for making those plans a reality.

Possible Russian involvement in the extremely ambitious project appeared to have dominated Luzhkov’s talks with Yerevan Mayor Gagik Beglarian. The two men headed to the Noragyugh neighborhood covering about 200 hectares of land after the talks.

“These proposals are very impressive. In the event of their implementation, a wonderful residential, business and cultural neighborhood will emerge in this location,” Luzhkov told journalists after inspecting the site and familiarizing himself with the architectural design of the buildings that would replace Noragyugh’s mostly ramshackle houses.

Luzhkov, who has presided over a massive post-Soviet construction boom in Moscow, said one of his deputies will visit Yerevan with a group of Russian investors in mid-March for more detailed talks with Armenian officials. “I think they will find interesting solutions and interesting proposals on the construction,” he said.

“The place is good, the project is very reasonable and good … We will therefore pay quite serious attention to this project,” added the influential mayor.

Luzhkov, whose wife reportedly owns one of Russia’s largest construction companies, was already prepared to estimate the approximate costs involved. “Freeing up this hill and resettling people will cost more than $100 million, and every building to be constructed there, if it is going to be big, will cost from $40 million to $60 million,” he said. “I think at least 50 such structures should be built in this place.”

Yerevan’s chief architect, Samvel Danielian, came up with an even more whopping estimate: at least $6 billion. The figure is equivalent to more than two-thirds of Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product in 2009.

“We plan to build here Yerevan’s new international center,” Danielian told journalists. “There will be a cultural section, a business section. The main foreign embassies will be represented here with their cultural missions. There will also be residential construction.”

Danielian added that the municipal authorities are already making plans for relocating some 1,500 families presently living in Noragyugh. All of them are to be resettled in new apartment blocks elsewhere in Yerevan, he said.

“We will do everything to make sure that the residents relocate with joy,” said Beglarian. “Remember this.”

The Armenian capital and especially its center have already undergone considerable redevelopment over the past decade. The process has been marred by forcible expulsions of hundreds of families unhappy with the meager government compensations for their properties.

The construction boom, fuelled by soaring real estate prices, was a major driving force behind Armenia’s double-digit economic growth that came to an end in late 2008. The Armenian construction sector has been hit particularly hard by the ensuing recession, contracting by over 36 percent in 2009. Many of the luxury apartments build in recent years have yet to find buyers.


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  3. Avetis said:

    I bet there will be dingbats here that would find something in this article to complain about….

  4. Dino Ajemian said:

    The spot of  the future turkish occupied Yerevan has been chosen. Beautiful housing for turkish and azeri businessmen and their Armenian wives. For all you who think the protocols are finished think again! We must think in terms of  living our Armenian Ethos and protecting it from all our enemies foreign and domestic.

    • john said:

      I’ve had enough of your NONSENSICAL HYSTERIA.

      PLEASE PLEASE, GET A LIFE . And BTW, if you really care about the country as you claim, DO something POSITIVE instead of spewing NONSENSE.

      this is sickening

    • john said:

      they’re trying their best to move the country forward. instead of some constructive ideas, what do YOU come up with? more idiotic paranoia. it looks like you get off on this. just keep it to yourself and don’t pollute the air here.

      We already have enough nonsense going on in the world we DO NOT need more from you.

    • Aram said:

      I really suggest you seek some good therapist for your mental condition instead of making us to listen to your hallucinations.

      You need THERAPY! Get it ASAP.

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  6. Hovik said:

    This is proposterous. They are thinking of building more luxury appartments in Yerevan, where most of the ones they built inthe years before are standing empty. And it is not like they can’t spent their time and effort elsewhere in Yerevan(buildings that don’t have gas and burn whatever, non-operational elevators in highrises, I am not even going to mention the awful sanitary conditions in 99% of the buildings. People in Achapniak/Cheremushka part of Yerevan still live in buildings that were declared unhabitable 25 years ago. How about some development outside of Yerevan. Industrial cities like Vanadzor have most of their factories closed, people out of work. Young people, with no prospect for future living to go to Yerevan or Russia. How about earthquake region? How about small border villages? Do all of them have normal roads, electricity, phone, gas, internet? Do all of them have schools? I suspect the answer is no and yet they want to spent equivalent of 2/3 of GNP on building more luxury apartments in Yerevan? The customary thing here would be to say “shame serzhik” but actually it is not serzhik it is leveon, robert, serzhik, it is the system. The same system that does the same thing all over the world. The system that awarded 100s of billions, trillions of dollars to US banks while people were loosing their life savings, their hope for retirement, and their homes.

    • john said:

      the problem with your “argument” here is you simply don’t understand how the economic development works. and how to lay the ground work for long term development of the county. it looks like we have two “professors” here. despite how qualified you think you are in these matters, i must in form you YOU ARE NOT. So please, do less talking and more thinking and more learning.