World Trade Center Set to Expand

For MTThe area of the planned expansion is 100,000 square meters, including offices, a hotel and parking for 600 cars.
The World Trade Center, Moscow's oldest business center and the Soviet-era predecessor to the Moskva-City project, is about to get a 100,000-square-meter expansion that will strengthen its position on the market.

The center's first section opened in 1979 on the banks of the Moscow River opposite the Ukraina Hotel. It was partially financed by American millionaire Armand Hammer, giving it its unofficial name, the Hammer Center. In 2003, the WTC's second, 26,000-square-meter section opened, bringing its total size to 200,000 square meters.

In addition to offices, the WTC -- which is owned by the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry -- includes the 572-room Mezhdunarodnaya, or International, hotel and Moscow's largest conference facilities, capable of accommodating 3,500 people at one time. It also features apartments, restaurants, a fitness center and stores, effectively making it a city within a city.

The plans for the expansion include two new buildings with a total area of 100,000 square meters -- a 30-story office building; a 20-story, 300-room four-star hotel; and parking for 600 automobiles -- to be completed by 2008.

The new buildings, designed by the architect of the WTC's first two sections, Vladimir Kubasov, will be connected to the existing ones by a series of galleries to form one complex. A tender to find the general contractor for the project will be held this fall, while work is expected to begin in 2006.

"It took us many years to come to this stage, and now we have a modern architectural concept and the financial means to complete the construction of the World Trade Center," said Sergei Tarachanov, general director of the WTC.

Between $65 million and $70 million will be invested into the expansion, according to company figures.

"Expansion is going to be good for the World Trade Center. It will strengthen its attractiveness as a business district," predicted Darrell Stanaford, director at Noble Gibbons in association with CB Richard Ellis, which is property manager for the WTC's second section, adding that its existing offices are "very successful."

The WTC's proximity to the Moskva-City business district, currently being built further upstream along the Moscow River, underscores the fact that both projects will share one fate, Stanaford said.

"As long as the economy is doing fine, they both will be fine as well," Stanaford said.

But Sergei Riabokobylko, managing director at Cushman & Wakefield Stiles & Riabokobylko, said that the WTC was largely in a league of its own, as it was a unique offer on the market, with everything from a conference hall to apartments under one roof.

"It is irrelevant whether it is located close to Moskva-City or not," he said. "The project is interesting in itself. In this segment, competition is virtually nonexistent."