Neighbor Brings St. Pete Hotel to Halt

MTThe St. Petersburg City Court ordered that work on the three-star hotel on Naberezhnaya Moiki should be temporarily put on hold.
ST. PETERSBURG -- An injunction sought by one city resident has led the St. Petersburg City Court to order a halt in the construction of a three-star hotel in the center of the city.

Peterburgskoye Agentstvo Nedvizhimosti was ordered on Dec. 3 to halt work on the project at 22 Naberezhnaya Moiki, next door to the State Capella concert hall, after Yelena Andreyeva, who lives in the building next door, filed a case against the project. Her suit claimed that the company did not have proper documentation in the form of a building permit or proper authorization for the architectural details of the building.

In the documents filed with the court, Andreyeva said: "The actions of Peterburgskoye Agentstvo Nedvizhimosti are a threat both to myself and my property."

Peterburgskoye Agentstvo Nedvizhimosti, with French firm Peters Construct as a co-investor, leased the property from the city in 1994. Peters Construct has since dropped out of the $20 million project to build the nine-story hotel.

The nine stories are Andreyeva's main complaint. She said the planned height of the hotel is 29 meters, while all of the surrounding buildings are no higher than 13.5 meters tall -- a fact that she said would ruin the architectural ensemble of Palace Square, which is a mere three-minute walk away.

But Lidia Ukhova, the chief architect for the project, said Andreyeva's complaints are unfounded. For one thing, she said, the facade and the part of the hotel on the Moika will be only four floors tall plus a penthouse, while the nine-story portion will be located back in the complex's courtyard and 39 meters away from the street front. She added that, because the plans call for the ceilings in the building to be only 2.6 meters high, the height of the nine-story section would be less than 24.5 meters.

Officials at Peterburgskoye Agentstvo Nedvizhimosti said they believe the suit was not started because of a citizen's architectural concerns.

"We have all the necessary documents to begin construction," Linar Latypov, the head of the law department at Peterburgskoye Agentstvo Nedvizhimosti, said Thursday. "We believe that the case was initiated by a group of people or a company that is interested in the property from a commercial standpoint and would like to get their hands on it.

"If they stop the construction process now, then by the [city's] 300th anniversary there will be neither a hotel nor a renovated building -- there will just be construction cranes standing right next to Palace Square," Latypov said.

Alexander Vakhmistrov, the head of St. Petersburg's construction committee, said Wednesday that the committee had already given the project the go-ahead, but that the construction had been started without receiving final approval from St. Petersburg's administrative committee.

"The final documents are still with the administrative committee, which is just making sure that all of the legal loose ends have been tied up," he said, adding that there had been no difficulties with or complaints against the project before now.