Complex Built in Baden-Baden Spirit

IntermarksavillsThe design of a cottage to be built in Baden-Baden by December 2009.
Over the centuries, crowds of Russians from aristocrats to oligarchs have flocked there. Ivan Turgenev chased the woman he loved to the town and Fyodor Dostoevsky gambled away all his money in the local casino.

But now it seems that one of Europe's most exclusive resorts is heading to Moscow.

Twelve kilometers southwest of the Moscow Ring Road and a long way from the Black Forest, an enterprising German developer is set to build a new Baden-Baden.

Well, at least a project named after the spa town is being built. A cluster of 39 German homes will be constructed on the banks of the river Desna, designed to appeal to Muscovites seeking a life beyond the chaotic capital.

The Baden-Baden project is just one in a series of Disneyland-type developments that are popping up around the capital. Similar projects also include imitation English and Canadian villages.

As property prices soar in the city, an increasing number of Muscovites, looking to upgrade from their Soviet apartments to family homes, are heading out of Moscow and into these islands of exclusivity.

"The name Baden-Baden was not chosen by chance," said Nina Reznichenko, head of the out-of-town property department for IntermarkSavills, the company managing the project.

"The new cottage settlement of Baden-Baden is not an attempt to recreate the original, but it is an attempt to transfer some of the aura of the place," Reznichenko said.

Designed by Munich-based architects, Neumayer & Partner, the individual, detached houses have suitably Teutonic-sounding names, such as Rothenbach, Lichtental and Lerchensand. And a German, it is claimed, would feel right at home.

"This is not an just another anonymous village 'built in the European style,' as the adverts for almost every second village say," Reznichenko said.

Construction on the site will start either this month or in January and the entire development should be finished by December 2009.

As for the cost, despite the soaring prices, the ersatz Baden-Baden is still a considerably cheaper option than the real thing.

Preliminary prices for the properties range from just about $1.9 million to $6.1 million for a 4,300-square-meter plot.

On the other side of town, 30 kilometers north of Moscow and just off Pyatnitskoye Shosse, a corner of some foreign field is being turned into little England.

Designed by a team of Russian architects, the Greenwich project, named after the leafy London suburb, claims to offer potential residents "the real spirit of old England."

The houses are named after an eclectic range of famous Britons and towns, from Wellington and Windsor to Norwich and Sheffield. Despite the attempt to suggest style and stately residences, they feel more like municipal housing projects than stately homes.

The inhabitants of a 250-square-meter, two-story Sheffield home will have a veranda, garage, three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

The village is being built by Russian developer Monolit, with the cheapest "town house" terrace properties costing about $240,000.

And it is not just from Europe that developers are drawing inspiration. Just north of the Moscow Ring Road, the Noviye Veshki development is being designed and built by Canadian companies.

The Sawatzky Group is the main company behind this mammoth project. More than 500 homes will be built with an average lot size of 700 to 900 square meters. Interested occupants can choose from a selection of 16 different land-residence packages.

Space in a standard home is currently selling for $3,900 per square meter, the company says.

The gated community, which will be guarded around the clock, will also include a swimming pool, tennis courts, a school and kindergarten.