Becar Planning Huge Business Center

ST. PETERSBURG -- Becar Realty Group has acquired unfinished production facilities in the Nevsky district, which the company plans to reconstruct over the next seven years before opening the largest B-class business center in the city.

The building, located on 3rd Rybatsky Proyezd, was intended to become an aluminum plant. After reconstruction, the total area of the business center will be 98,000 square meters, including 78,000 square meters of office area.

"This project marks a new trend on the office real estate market -- instead of simply leasing out office space, we are trying to create a business center with a comfortable environment for business development and operations," said Alexei Lazutin, head of the investment department at Becar.

"Such a concept is only possible with large business centers. If the total office space is between 2,000 and 4,000 square meters, a business center cannot provide a printing office or conference facilities," Lazutin said.

Becar's business center will contain several restaurants and cafes, a conference hall, printing office, mailroom, secure parking lot and several cash machines.

"Business centers on this scale can only be found in Moscow -- in St. Petersburg there are no centers of a comparable size. This new business center has every chance to become the largest one in St. Petersburg," Lazutin said.

The first part of the center will start operating in 2009, and the whole complex will be completed by 2014. Becar expects logistics, production and distribution, finance, telecoms and IT companies to be the main tenants, along with retail operators.

The company is planning to charge relatively low rents to compensate for the center's remote location. In 2015, Becar will sell the operating business center.

"Considering its size, it will be more like a business park than a regular business center. Investment in a project like this could vary between $120 million and $130 million," said Sergei Igonin, a managing partner of IB Group.

Igonin agreed that large logistics companies were likely to become the main tenants. "Becar's managers are focusing on the correct market segment. But will they find enough logistics companies in St. Petersburg that will want to base their back offices in this area?" he said.

Igonin indicated that Becar would have to tackle the problem of transportation to attract tenants. "The business center will be located near a metro station, but there is practically no way to access it by car. The ring road will not improve the situation, because the business center is quite a distance from it," Igonin said.

Experts from Becar indicated that over the last few years Moscow had seen a trend of office projects moving outside the city center to peripheral districts. They forecast that the same trend would take hold in St. Petersburg as well.

Alexander Sharapov, president of Becar, expects that the new business center "will improve an area that is in economic decline and redefine the image and status of Rybatskoye."