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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Northern Capital Mulls Vote on Chinatown Development

ST. PETERSBURG -- St. Petersburg's Legislative Assembly is to examine holding a referendum on the construction and development of a Chinatown in the Krasnoselsky district, local media reported Thursday.

China's state-owned Shanghai Investment and Industrial is planning to invest $1.25 billion in the construction of a mini-city in the Krasnoselsky district over two years. The project aims to develop the 150 hectares of vacant land in the southwest of the city between the Peterhof highway and the shores of the Gulf of Finland.

Plans include a business area with office buildings and hotels, as well as a residential area with schools, cafes, cinemas and a Buddhist temple.

The project has met with protests from citizens worried about possible problems a Chinatown might bring.

"One problem is that a great number of Chinese citizens will then flock into the city with their families and relatives. Such quarters have their own rules and are breeding grounds for prostitution and crime," Legislative Assembly Deputy Sergei Andreyev said, as quoted Thursday by his press service.

Alexander Teterdinko, a representative of the group that wants a referendum on the project, said that the group registered on Feb. 10 and currently has 23 members, Interfax reported.

The referendum is supposed to question the city government's right to authorize ownership of a plot of land by a Chinese company, the group said.

According to United Russia Deputy Vladimir Yeryomenko, the holding of such a referendum is fairly unlikely.

"First, the procedure for a referendum is very complex. Second, such issues are never decided by a referendum. It is clear that the result will be against the project," Yeryomenko said. "Instead of wasting money on a referendum, City Hall should inform people how to better take advantage of this project."