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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Buildings Booming in City's Future 'Mayfair'

With its office centers and residential buildings nearing completion at a rate that would put the best Soviet five-year plans to shame, the historic but faded Yakimanka region just south of the Kremlin is poised to become one of the city's key business districts.

The area's soon-to-be-unveiled Class of 1997 -- with projects including the Keystone Project, the Alexandra House and a number of buildings by the Russian developer KRT -- will represent a sizable addition of grand and classically styled buildings to the city's market.

"Everyone seems to rave about the area," said Bret Bobo, the director of marketing and leasing for real estate developer S+T.

"The [Yakimanka] neighborhood is very unusual," said Larissa Gotguelf of real estate advisers The Western Group/ Colliers International. "It is central, it is convenient, but it is not too busy."

Two Moscow realtors separately described the area -- roughly the half of the Zamoskvorechye, or south bank area, west of Ulitsa Bolshaya Ordynka -- as a potential "Mayfair of Moscow."

The area's prime selling point is its location: It is close to the Kremlin, with access to the business hubs of Tverskaya Ulitsa and Taganka as well as the popular Frunzenskaya and Leninsky Prospekt residential neighborhoods. That makes the Yakimanka area a popular business neighborhood, but its commercial character is softened by its concentration of historical buildings and onion-domed churches, embassies and residences, as well as the Tretyakov Gallery.

"Traditionally, the area is perceived as quiet and nice," Gotguelf said.

But with construction sites on nearly every block, residents may be excused for not finding it altogether quiet.

In the north of the region, across the Moskva River from the Kremlin, the Central Bank is well on its way to completing its new headquarters across from the Baltschug Hotel. Sharing the same intersection is S+T's Sadovnicheskaya project, which includes some 6,000 meters of completed office and retail space with 40,000 square meters planned between three developments, said Bobo.

On the area's south end is the 8,500 square-meter Keystone Project at 42 Bolshaya Yakimanka, which will primarily be an office building but may include residential space, said Timothy Fenwick, general director of commercial realtors Global ABMP-Jones Lang Wootton, one of Keystone's leasing agents.

The locus of activity in the neighborhood is the intersection of Bolshaya Polyanka and Bolshaya Yakimanka. Samsung is working on a 5,000 square-meter administrative building at 9/10 Bolshaya Yakimanka. Next door, at 18 Bolshaya Yakimanka, is the recently completed Dom Komarova, which will soon house the Donskoye Department of Russia's Sberbank.

Across the intersection at 11/14 Bolshaya Polyanka, the six-floor, 5,500 square-meter Tretyakov Court is nearing completion and will be ready for tenant occupation by January.

Fronting a nearby embankment is the Alexandra House at 2/1 Malaya Yakimanka, another S+T Group development, a 12,000 square-meter office building that is nearing completion.

In spite of these big-name projects, the largest developer in the area -- and the company that has the greatest potential to shape the region's future character -- is a Russian company called KRT Territory Development Corporation.

KRT has ambitious long-range plans to develop 26 sites in the Yakimanka district into 500,000 square meters worth of office, residential and multi-use buildings. One site, an office building at 2nd Kazachy Pereulok, is completed, and two are under construction -- a 17-story twin office and residential tower at 10 Zhitnaya Ulitsa, and a four-building complex at 47 to 51 Bolshaya Polyanka.

Real-estate sources lauded KRT's sensitivity in retaining the historical character of the area and working with established builders, including Sweden's Skanska and Austria's Ilbau. But they expressed concerns that KRT has too many projects in the region and unrealistic expectations on pricing.

A representative for KRT said the company will act as general contractor for some of its sites, sell others to independent investors, or offer other options tailored to investors' needs. She said KRT holds short-term leases from the city government on these sites and could parlay these into 49-year leases after the sites are developed.

The company representative said KRT received the city's approval in 1993 for its program of "socioeconomic and urban development" for the revitalization of the Yakimanka district.

She said that as part of the company's development plan, the firm carries out projects for improving and maintaining electrical and communications networks and maintaining roads, as well as orchestrating -- and funding -- the process of relocating residents displaced by the company's urban renewal projects. The company gradually buys out the city's share in the leases, she said, as it carries out each individual project.