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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Converting Old Mansions Into Elite Housing

MTKRT Group is renovating two 18th-century city-center mansions.
Top-notch housing is getting more elite, with one developer ready to put two of Moscow's historical mansions up for sale.

KRT Group is renovating two 18th-century mansions in the city center and hopes to sell them next year for about $3,500 per square meter -- or $3.5 million for one mansion and $1.9 million for the other.

"The special aspects of the project are that the buyers will get a sole-occupancy mansion standing on its own land, and the homes are historical," said KRT spokeswoman Lyubov Guseva. "We don't know of any other projects in which all these factors are present," she said. "There are three to four offers of mansions for two families on the market, but those mansions do not come with their own land."

Both mansions could be sold to one owner, Guseva said, but they could also be divided up into apartments.

The mansions are located in the same yard at 2nd Kadashevsky Pereulok, which has been divided up, with each building getting its own plot of land. One three-story mansion measures 905 square meters and stands on a 0.08-hectare site with its own 109-square-meter outbuilding. The other mansion has two stories, measures 532 square meters and stands on a 0.03-hectare site.

The site is located one block away from Kadashevskaya Naberezhnaya near the Tretyakov Gallery, opposite the Church of the Resurrection in Kadashi.

When KRT Group began work in June, the buildings were urgently in need of repairs. Under plans drawn up by the group's chief architect, Dmitry Podyapolsky, modern interiors are to be built inside the old walls, and the mansions are to become "smart" buildings.

The plans include guest rooms, a library, a nanny's bedroom and a fitness room. The larger mansion will feature an open-air winter garden, while the smaller one will house a sauna and swimming pool.

The work is due to be finished in April of next year, Guseva said.

Yekaterina Akimova, manager of elite residential apartments at Penny Lane Realty, said the redesign of the interiors could prove a weak point in the project -- the company would have more chances of matching a client's wishes if the buyer had some say in how the buildings were renovated, she said.

The property was first mentioned in 1738, when its owners were the Popovs, a merchant family from the city of Serpukhov to the south of Moscow. It changed hands many times before becoming a convent at the end of the 19th century, which it remained until 1917.

After the Russian Revolution, the mansions were converted into communal apartments. The cellar of the three-story mansion was converted into a scientific research institute.

The work is part of the Sreda Obitania, or Living Environment, program the company prepared for the social, economic and urban development of the Yakimanka district on the Moscow River, southwest of the Kremlin. Under the first stage of the program, which was approved by the city government in 1994, five homesteads in the district are to be restored.

KRT Group has obtained property rights to the land plots and buildings to carry out reconstruction, under investment contracts with City Hall. The contract relating to the mansions was agreed to in 1995, Guseva said.

"The compound is the subject of an investment contract with the Moscow City government under which the investor must fulfill all obligations, by buying residents' apartments with modern amenities and resettling them, and also by shifting the laboratory to another site," Guseva said.

New homes were found in 1997 for the 10 families who had been living in the mansions, and the research institute was relocated to a new office.

Founded in 1991, KRT Group has been involved in the development of more than 40 projects from small mansions to huge business centers and apartment blocks. Its owners are 30 local and foreign firms, Guseva said.

Penny Lane's Akimova said she expected the mansions to be snapped up quickly by super-rich clients. "Many people would like to buy their own free-standing home. It's not thousands of people who can afford that, but there are still quite a few," she said.

"They already have a home outside of the center, but that isn't enough for their self-image," Akimova said. "Because there are practically no mansions on the market, the demand is naturally great and KRT Group might even be able to fetch a higher price."

Philippe Bogdanoff, head of elite residential agency Kirsanova Realty, an affiliate of Sotheby's International Realty, disagreed.

He said that, unlike in downtown London or Paris, single-family residences had little appeal in downtown Moscow. KRT Group would have better chances of finding a buyer if the mansions were converted into representative offices, he said.

"If one of our clients buys something in Moscow, they want an apartment near a highway. If they buy a house, they want it to be on the outskirts with a good piece of land," he said. "Something in between doesn't work here."