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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Room at the Top for the New Rich

Russia's nouveau riche might soon find themselves living literally on top of the common folk -- in what were once attics full of maintenance equipment.

Under a mayoral decree late last year and an earlier decision of the dismissed City Council, several prestigious buildings in central Moscow will get a new lease on life as their attics get turned into Western-style apartments and offices.

The work is already under way in the city, and at least two buildings are to take in their first residents soon, said Vladimir Shvedov, head of the reconstruction department of the Central Administrative District. Six more houses on Frunzenskaya Naberezhnaya and Komsomolsky Prospekt are awaiting restoration.

"I am convinced that the future is in this approach," said Vitaly Menyayev an executive of the ARS firm, a construction company that rehabilitated the buildings. "This way we do not need any land, so scarce and expensive in the center, to build high-quality flats."

Menyayev said the buildings at 16/12 Ulitsa Burdenko and 2/4 Olsufevsky Pereulok were old apartment blocs, shut down in the late 1980s because of dangerous conditions. The residents were moved, walls knocked down and further work frozen due to lack of money.

Under the reconstruction contracts ARS has signed with the Central Administrative District, the company undertook complete renovation. This involves reinforcing the basement, removing the roof and building an additional floor under a new mansard roof, he said. In exchange, ARS receives ownership of about 55 percent of the new apartments. The rest of the flats remain city property and are to be distributed among Muscovites. The new housing will consist of large two-level apartments of about five rooms and some 200 square meters, Menyayev said.

The buildings are located in a prestigious area near Zubovskaya Ploshchad on the Garden Ring, and ARS's share of flats will be sold for about $1,200 per square meter, Menyayev said, adding that ARS plans eight such projects. "You can pretty much imagine who might be able to afford a $240,000 flat," he said.

Shvedov said sometimes residents are not asked to move at all while a mansard is built on the roof.