St. Pete's Atrium Wins Award

ST. PETERSBURG -- Office and trade center Atrium has won first prize for excellence in the office and industrial buildings category in a competition run by FIABCI, the international federation of real estate market members.

The results of the competition were decided Friday at the conclusion of FIABCI's annual congress in London.

No Russian building has ever received as high a placing in the competition before. "A few projects have reached the finals in the past, but none has succeeded to bring home the highest award," said Andrei Gusev, president of the Russian Guild of Realtors.

The best Russian result to date had been a second place in the trade complex category at the MIRIM-200 world real estate exhibition in Cannes, France. At the end of March that honor went to Moscow's Okhotny Ryad underground complex on Manezh Square.

Participation in the FIABCI competition was limited to already completed and functioning projects. The jurors made their selections based on a number of parameters: architecture, integration with the building's surroundings, ecological safety, social significance and the main criterion - financial success and quality of marketing.

"The prize will doubtless serve as a positive signal for international investment in real estate in Russia," said Vitaly Votolevsky, president of the Russian chapter of FIABCI. "Money from American investors [the Overseas Private Investment Corp.] played the most important role in this project. If one group of investors can achieve this kind of success, it means others can too."

The 6,000-square-meter Atrium commercial office center is located in the center of St. Petersburg at 25 Nevsky Prospekt. The building was reconstructed for about $30 million and opened for business at the end of 1997 after a three-year reconstruction project. Last year, Atrium was awarded a state prize for architecture.

Before the 1998 financial crisis, the center was the most expensive in St. Petersburg in which to rent space, with rents of up to $700 dollars per square meter a year. In 1999, the rents were cut in half and now stand at about $350.