City Planning Body to Be Divided in 2

MTAnalysts say the division looks like an attempt to answer Medvedev's call to focus on developing infrastructure.
The city's urban planning department, headed by First Deputy Mayor Vladimir Resin, said Tuesday that it would be divided into two new branches led by his deputies, with one focusing on planning and the other overseeing infrastructure.

Analysts said the move looked like a response to President Dmitry Medvedev's demand for an increased focus on both public and private infrastructure development.

Alexander Kosovan, a first deputy to Resin at the current office, will head the new city construction department. It will focus on urban planning and investment policy, creating special-purpose construction programs and the redevelopment and reconstruction of Moscow, a source in the city administration told RIA-Novosti.

A spokeswoman at the urban planning department confirmed the report and requested that additional questions be sent to the office by fax, which was unanswered Tuesday evening.

Kosovan's office will additionally oversee the reorganization of industrial zones in Moscow and the opening of new territory for the construction of public and private housing. It will also be responsible for developing the hotel sector and carrying out city pricing policies.

The second new office — the roads, bridges and engineering department — will be headed by Alexander Levchenko, another of Resin's deputies.

Levchenko's department will receive and manage state funds to be invested in infrastructure, as well as participating in the privatization of property and overseeing the city's transportation system.

First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said last month that Moscow and the surrounding region would require 5 trillion rubles ($221 billion) in investment, more than double the previously planned government spending.

Funds for the creation of the two departments will come from the city's 2008 budget, and the details of the two offices' status will be resolved by Oct. 1.

"The infrastructure problem is very sharp in Moscow," said Andrei Belyuchenko, the business development director of Horus Capital, a Moscow development firm.

A department focused on infrastructure would make sense "for one or two years," he said, while the larger, urban planning department would serve a long-term role.

Vladimir Pantyushin, a Russia and CIS analyst at Jones Lang LaSalle, said fears that the move would ultimately lead to just another layer of red tape were unfounded, as the original department also had various offices and responsibilities.

"I wouldn't say it was a single package to begin with, but now you'll have to deal with two different entities," he said.

"The intention from the Moscow city government is to put more emphasis on infrastructure. This will provide a more focused and more structured approach, because there is very little structure now," Pantyushin said.