Moscow Gets A Makeover

Mark Gay

Take the world’s 16th biggest city by population, double its size and throw the urban design out to tender. The dramatic image on our cover this quarter is the vision of French architects Wilmotte&Associes and AntoineGrumbach&Associes who developed the winning design for Greater Moscow.

The city's new Chief Architect Sergei Kuznetsov tells us his basic idea is to mix residential and working ar eas as much as possible: with an emphasis on public transport, quick commutes — or walks — from home to work, and integration with Moscow's airports. Read our interview with Moscow's Chief Architect on P8.

The word, innovation, is not often heard when talking about finance but it's just as valid. Fenice, the Italian subsidiary of French energy giant EDF, is rolling out its energy service contracts across Russia with the help of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The contracts are currently too big for the residential market but they've proved their value in industrial projects and now the company is eyeing the municipal sector.

The global financial crisis has led investors to innovate, as bank interest rates have spiked while the underlying base rates have fallen. There are new Russian banks on the scene, more participants in the real estate market and consequently bigger deals. Read more in our interview with international in vestors Hines, in our Inside View, on P12.

Muscovites may never encounter a single space parking meter. Innovative wireless parking controls will see Moscow leapfr og from the 19th to the 21st century as it introduces cellphone payment for parking, backed up by GPS and camer as. Corporate drivers will discover the virtues of on-site parking, accor ding to analysts at CBRE. Other developers will be looking beyond the Moscow ring road to accommodate tenants who decide they no longer need to rent in the inner business districts. Is it pay day for structured parking? See Innovation, P22.

Russia's regions saw the biggest jump in retail supply last year, their share of new retail space exceeding one-third of the national total. One regional developer is making inroads in cities that previously lacked a shopping culture, with the aim of profiting from rising incomes and demand for quality services from a growing middle class. See In The Regions on P18 and the expert analysis in our expanded Money Matters and Legal Note sections from P28.

Russia has slipped, accor ding to some global rankings, as a favor end destination for investors. But those companies who are in the Russian market disagree. "We think the returns are still robust... the Russian consumer has low leverage, is educated, is desirous of better quality things both in their homes such as furnishings, and as retail consumers." We compare Russia with one investor favorite, Turkey. See Emerging Markets, P24.

We hope you'll find this issue enter taining as well as useful and we welcome your suggestions for future issues.