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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Firm Picked to Revamp 'Northern Kremlin'

MTThe 18th-century baroque palace in the St. Petersburg suburb of Strelna will cost from $150 million to $170 million to restore for use as a federal residence and museum.
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Kremlin has chosen a company to carry out the restoration of Konstantinovsky Palace but is delaying naming the winner for another two days, according to presidential administration spokesman Viktor Khrekov.

Last week, Vladimir Kozhin, head of the presidential administration, had promised to publicly announce the results on Monday of the tender to restore the 18th-century baroque confection located in the southern St. Petersburg suburb of Strelna.

"The selection committee has made its decision, but until the presidential administration and the construction company sign an agreement laying out the conditions for the project, we won't announce the results," Khrekov said.

Five companies submitted bids in the tender, including the local firms 16th Trust, Vozrozhdeniye and Len Stroi Rekonstruktsiya. The other two bidders are the Czech company Gema Art and the Yugoslav company Omni Strukture.

The total cost of the project, which will include the complete restoration of the palace and the surrounding park, will cost from $150 million to $170 million, according to Khrekov.

Olga Taratynova, deputy head of the St. Petersburg State Committee for the Control and Protection of Architectural Monuments, said that a detailed plan for the project and for the use of the space after renovation is nearing completion.

"The west wing of the palace will be a federal residential complex, while the east wing will be a museum," Taratynova said.

"It has already been decided that the museum will be given more space than the?governmental?residence," Taratynova added.

"Only one-third of the palace will be used as a residence," said Khrekov, emphasizing that the president would not be living there.

When asked how strongly Putin supported the project, Khrekov said: "He was consulted by Kozhin and gave his verbal agreement to the project."

Guests of Leningrad Governor Vladimir Yakovlev would also be able to make use of the federal residence, Kozhin said.

Specialists from the State Hermitage Museum and the St. Petersburg Central Planning Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences are responsible for developing the plan.

"We will be ready to present the plan by Oct. 1," said Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the Hermitage.

"Our analysis of the current state of the palace has determined that an enormous amount of work will have to be done, both at the palace and in the neighboring park," Kozhin said. "Initially, it was feared that we would have to remove the grottoes, which are nearly in ruins now, but an engineering solution has been found and the grottoes can be restored."

According to Kozhin, the reconstruction of the palace will be completed by May 2003, but it will take another two years to construct the commercial enterprises planned for the park, including a five-star hotel, a yacht club and a golf course.

Neither Khrekov nor Kozhin would estimate how much federal funding would be spent on the project, saying that the figures were still being analyzed. When a figure is determined, it will have to be approved by the State Duma.

"All the preliminary works so far have been funded from money coming from private donations," Khrekov said. "The biggest investment into the palace will be made by the federal government."

Kozhin said the presidential administration has also discussed investment possibilities with the construction companies participating in the tender, trying to interest them in the commercial projects around the palace.

"The company chosen to do the restoration work was selected partly because it agreed to provide funding in exchange for a 10- to 15-year commercial lease on a section of the complex," Khrekov said.

The dedicated charitable fund created to finance the restoration has already collected over 26 million rubles ($867,000). Most of the contributors are based in St. Petersburg and Moscow, Kozhin said. Benefactors include 40 companies such as Surgutneftegaz, Bravo International and North-West GSM.