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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Crocus Opens Doors to Latest Suburban Project

VedomostiMoscow Region Governor Gromov, right, and Crocus International's Agalarov, left, at the official opening of Crocus on Thursday.
Crocus International last week opened its latest out-of-town development project, the Crocus Expo international exhibition center, on the Moscow Ring Road near Volokolamskoye Shosse.

The $28 million, 40,600-square-meter Crocus Expo, which opened officially last Thursday, has four large exhibition halls, ranging from 5,000 to 11,600 square meters and totaling 32,000 square meters and three conference halls.

Aras Agalarov, president of Crocus International, said the exhibition complex was completed in "record time" -- just eight months.

Anxious to allay the security concerns that have been brought up by the collapse of the Transvaal water park last month -- another high-profile project built in "record time" -- Agalarov said the exhibition center's design and construction were of the "highest quality."

"The building's roof is so strong you can literally drive a truck there," he joked.

Crocus Expo has been built on the same MKAD site as Crocus International's Crocus City development of two shopping centers. The 62,000-square-meter Crocus City Mall, which opened in November 2002, is home to some 180 boutique and luxury shops and is next door to Crocus International's 42,000-square-meter Tvoi Dom hypermarket, which opened in September 2001.

Crocus International also owns the Crocus-Moskva retail chain with outlets in Moscow, and another Tvoi Dom hypermarket, also located on the MKAD.

According to information provided by the company, Crocus International's 2003 turnover was $220 million.

The new, state-of-the-art Crocus Expo exhibition center was financed by a $19.6 million five-year loan from Sberbank. The bank had previously lent around $10 million to Crocus International for the building of Crocus City's Tvoi Dom and a $27.1 million loan for the completion of Crocus City Mall.

As part of the deal worked out between Sberbank and Crocus International, the bank has installed its cash machines on the Crocus City site, opened a branch there, and is providing currency exchange, consumer credit and collection services.

Crocus Expo faces competition from more centrally located exhibition centers such as the 81,000-square-meter ExpoCenter, the 33,000-square-meter Sokolniki Exhibition Center and the 108,500-square-meter All-Russian Exhibition Center, or VVTs.

However, as quality exhibition space is in extremely short supply in Moscow, Crocus Expo -- despite its location outside the city -- has not had much difficulty signing up exhibitors for both 2004 and 2005. And due to space constraints, MVK, the Sokolniki Exhibition Center's managing company, has signed an agreement with Crocus to relocate some of its exhibitions to Crocus Expo.

"The fact that Crocus Expo is not located in the city center is not a problem for us. Muscovites use the MKAD as often as they do the Garden Ring," said Igor Filonenko, general director of Zashchita Expo, which held exhibitions in the new center before it was officially opened.

International exhibitors are also lining up, as Germany's Messe Frankfurt RUS is planning to put on its Ambiente, Christmas World and Home Textile exhibitions in Crocus Expo next September. Holland's WTO will hold its Luxury World exhibition there in December 2004.

There are also plans to extend the metro line to Crocus City, which will make it even more accessible to visitors.

"You cannot speak about economic growth and development in the country unless complexes such as this are being opened," Agalarov said. "Every industry sector must have an exhibition of its own."

Of the 1,100 exhibition "themes" that exist in the world today, only around 300 exist in Russia, he added.

Boris Gromov, governor of the Moscow region, in whose Krasnogorsk district Crocus City is located, went even further in praising the new exhibition center.

"The creation of such projects means that the country is moving in the right direction," he told reporters Thursday.

But Crocus International's plans do not stop there.

A two-story second stage of the exhibition center, consisting of seven halls totaling 60,000 square meters, is scheduled for a late 2005 opening.

The company also envisions building on the site 14 high-rise office buildings, an entertainment center with a multiplex, a five-star hotel and a yacht club with a quay and a Moscow River embankment.

As part of these new developments, there will be an enormous 4800-square-meter "Venetian-style atrium," designed by Las Vegas specialists, with a 25-meter-high dome onto which a life-like sky will be projected, Agalarov said.