Glass And Steel Stalk The Moscow Region Countryside

Moscow regional administration's office is one of the tallest buildings beyond the city limits.
Vladimir Filonov / MT

With construction in central Moscow still restricted by planning reviews, the Moscow Region government has suggested building a series of business centers across the territory.

Deputy chairman of the Moscow regional government German Yelyanyushkin has suggested building skyscrapers as part of a series of new business districts.

"The Moscow region should probably have its own city districts," he said, referring tothe business andfinancial center inLondon. "Perhaps it makes sense toconsider skyscrapers inthe locations where business activities will concentrate, not only high-rise buildings," he told journalists in March.

TheMoscow region has "huge potential" forbusiness centers but there is a question mark over the time needed to claw back the investment, said Polina Zhilkina, director of strategic consulting atCB Richard Ellis Russia. "The more projects that are implemented, thelonger it will take themarket toabsorb them," she said.

Fora business district outside Moscow tobe successful, it should be easily accessible bypersonal andpublic transportation, with infrastructure including high-speed trains andmetro lines, Zhilkina said.

Construction work toextend themetro outside theMoscow Ring Road is already underway, with thefirst project, Rumyantsevo station onKievskoye Shosse southwest ofMoscow, tobe completed next year.

The Moscow architectural community criticized the idea of creating business parks outside thecity. Architect Boris Uborevich-Borovsky said it was an"absolutely incorrect idea."

Such projects are feasible only inbig cities with intense business activity, like Moscow or Yekaterinburg, where developing business andfinancial centers is aneffective way toboost that activity, he said.

He praised theMoscow-City skyscraper district, saying it brings thecapital astep closer tobecoming aglobal financial center.

But if carried out inthe Moscow region, projects like that were unlikely tobe profitable since investors would probably struggle tofind high-profile tenants. Uborevich-Borovsky said it was hard toimagine abig company that would prefer anoffice inthe region toa central urban location.

He said theheight ofbusiness centers inthe region should not exceed 15 stories and he worried that large-scale construction would damage thenatural environment outside thecity, especially around historical estates.

Yelyanyushkin said regional authorities had made no conclusions on the height of buildings. No construction would be carried out until theplan had been discussed with residents andarchitects involved ininternational urban construction projects.

Moscow regional government has its own freeze on new residential construction, while it prepares guidance on planning. Acting Moscow region Governor Andrei Vorobyov suspended new development projects outside thecity because ofan oversupply ofhigh-rise apartments, many of which are not served by adequate social infrastructure.

The issuance ofnew construction permits will remain suspended until authorities complete acheck into whether existing projects have enough social andtransportation infrastructure, said Yelyanyushkin.

It will take theregional Urban Construction Council chaired byVorobyov until about July tocomplete thecheck, Yelyanyushkin told Vedomosti.

Asource close tothe regional government said that most investment contracts would be revised, according to Vedomosti. However Yelyanyushkin hurried todispel developers' fears, saying that breaking contracts was not thegoal.

"We are not halting development where construction works are already underway, we just don't issue new permits," Interfax reported.

Construction permits have so far been provided for projects totalling 17 million square meters ofhousing which is scheduled tobe completed by2015, he said.