Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Luxury High Rises to Spring Up on Leninsky

When Oleg Grebenkin talks about his project, he speaks with the passion and confidence of a man who is finally starting to see the realization of a dream after years of dedicated labor. Describing his energy, one of his employees said, "Oleg Anatolyevich has a motor inside that drives him and he keeps us all going at the same pace."

Grebenkin is the general director of the company Kvartal 32-33, and his project is a vast residential development of a block of land in southwestern Moscow. Over the coming years, Kvartal plans to build 10 apartment blocks, five of them of luxury quality, on the land bordered by Prospekt Vernadskogo and Leninsky Prospekt on two sides and Ulitsa Udaltsova and Ulitsa Lobachevskogo on the other two. The company also has plans to build a hypermarket to serve the area.

The first phase of construction is nearing completion. By the end of this year, work should be finished on two 25-story buildings. One of these is a luxury apartment block with a three-level underground parking garage at 116-1 Leninsky Prospekt. The other is a block of municipal flats a small distance away that will house families currently living in the crumbling five-story buildings surrounding the 116-1 site.

According to Tatyana Turina, Kvartal's assistant director of sales, the project is unique in its social ramifications.

"Normally, the people living next to the construction site [in the five-story buildings] would feel resentful," she said. "But since they are also going to get a new apartment out of it, they are very enthusiastic." Turina said Kvartal has even received calls from local residents demanding to know why the construction crews were not working on a Sunday.

Grebenkin said the cost of the two buildings is $40 million, but that the municipal site was completely paid for by discounts on land and construction offered by the city in exchange for the housing.

Turina said that each of the five luxury towers planned for Leninsky Prospekt will be built in conjunction with a municipal building on Udaltsova. In addition, she said that the next municipal site on Udaltsova will also have a wing of mid-range apartments aimed at Moscow's growing middle class.

The apartments at 116-1 will be available in a wide range of sizes, from more humble one-room studios to three-room two-level, or even six-room two-level, apartments. In addition, there will be four penthouses with separate elevators from the 25th floor. All of the apartments feature at least one large balcony and a separate glassed-in winter garden area. The building is designed so that every apartment has southern exposure.

Turina said that the nine meters between supporting walls allows the apartments to be very open, but that enclosures can be added if the customer prefers. "We have tried to imagine the psychology of the person of the future," she said. "People who grew up in Soviet apartments may not feel comfortable with wide open spaces at first. Some of our customers may want to have a few walls to start out with."

The building will have a single entrance, with a gym and cafe on the ground floor. Residents will pay a small monthly fee for upkeep and services. Kvartal has also decided to revert to the old Russian tradition of a dvornik, or live-in maintenance man, whose quarters will also be on the ground floor.

Prices for unfurnished flats in the high rise will run from $1,900 to $2,500 per square meter, depending on the floor. The area of the apartments can be as little as 85 square meters for a studio to 260 square meters for six rooms. Penthouses are either 330 square meters with a price of $2,500 per meter or 250 square meters at $3,000 per meter. Turina said 70 percent of the apartments have already been spoken for.

Moscow real estate experts said that even with a construction boom, there was still a demand for very high quality apartments.

"There's a lot of talk that [the luxury market] is getting overbuilt," said William Knopick, vice president for marketing at Hines Ltd. "But the term 'luxury apartment' is often a misnomer. Quality varies widely," he said.

Noble Gibbons' Filipp Bogdanov concurred. "There is still room for growth in the luxury apartment area, but it has to be the right product."

Kvartal 32-33 was founded in 1994. Construction began on the 116-1 Leninsky Prospekt building in 1995 and is scheduled to be completed by November of this year. The construction is being done by the company Vysotspetsstroi, whose other projects include work on the initial stages of the construction of the mall on Manezh Square, the reconstruction of the Christ the Savior Cathedral and the Gazprom building on Ulitsa Nametkina. Kvartal counts among its investors metals exporter Zarubezhtsvetmet and oil major Sidanko.

Grebenkin said he is currently seeking out investors overseas and at home for the next stages of construction. He said the project would continue to benefit the whole neighborhood, not just those who live in the luxury apartments. A percentage of the capital raised for the planned construction of a hypermarket and other local conveniences will go to fund new schools and hospitals, he said.

"Our company has gotten a lot of interest and help from the city because of our emphasis on social projects," he said.