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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Global Exposure for Regional Real Estate

CANNES, France -- A performance by a Cossack choir at the opening cocktail party and an impressive model of the Kazan Kremlin were just two of the signs of the major Russian presence last week at the biggest-ever MIPIM exhibition of property market professionals.

This year, among a total of more than 20,000 participants at Europe's largest real estate forum, held annually in southern France since 1990, there were representatives from 189 Russian companies, representing a healthy increase from last year's 150.

The number of heavyweight representatives from the federal government, who were joined by top-level figures from the Moscow city government, such as First Deputy Mayor Vladimir Resin, Deputy Mayor Iosif Ordzhonikidze and chief architect Alexander Kuzmin, was a strong indication of the importance of the real estate industry as a driver of growth in regional economies.

This year, the accent was on the regions, with new participants from as far away as Buryatia, which was exhibiting at MIPIM for the first time. By far the biggest stands representing regional governments were those of Krasnodar, at MIPIM for the fifth time, and Sochi.

At a conference on investment trends hosted Tuesday afternoon by Vedomosti, Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref sought to expose myths that have deterred investors from Russia in the past and to woo them with bright prospects of strong economic performance and growing prosperity. Gref was joined by Krasnodar Governor Alexander Tkachyov, Kaliningrad Governor Georgy Boos, Nizhny Novgorod Governor Valery Shantsev and Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiyev, whose region was exhibiting at MIPIM for the first time.

Tkachyov stressed the need to meet investors halfway, pointing to the introduction in his region of a "one-window system" to simplify planning procedures to prove his point. Among numerous new projects planned for the Krasnodar region, all aimed at helping its bid to stage the Winter Olympics in 2014, is an ambitious five-star hotel complex of five towers on an artificial island with an attached marina at Sochi.

The most ambitious of Tatarstan's projects was Solnechny Gorod, a high-rise residential and office complex planned to house 20,000 people on the southern edge of Kazan, where ground was broken last year.

"The signal is there, trust [from investors] has appeared," said Shaimiyev, adding that he wanted to see Tatarstan wean itself off its oil dependency. Economic growth in the republic is expected to be further spurred by the Yelabuga special economic zone set up this year.

Boos used his presentation principally to promote the town of Pravdinsk -- formerly Friedland -- as a future tourist destination, capitalizing on Napoleon's Battle of Friedland, where an arena is planned for re-enactments and old buildings are to be restored.

Yekaterinburg was represented by Uralskaya Gorno-Metallurgicheskaya Kompania, or UGMK, which is principal investor in the Hyatt Regency five-star hotel and the Yekaterinburg-City office complex.

News from Moscow was dominated by the unveiling of plans for the Russia Tower in Moskva-City, but several other important new projects were also launched. Among the more ambitious is Nagatino i-Land, 1 million square meters of office and exhibition space to be built on Prospekt Andropova between the Kolomenskaya and Avtozavodskaya metro stations and conceived as an "incubator" for small businesses, including light industry. Construction is to take place in five stages, beginning in May and wrapping up in 2010.

MIPIM also saw the unveiling of a strikingly designed oceanarium, with 17,000 square meters of retail space and four-star hotel attached, already under construction on the edge of Park Pobedy. The oceanarium is to open its doors in May 2007 and be fully completed by late 2008.

The head of Inteko and wife of Mayor Yury Luzhkov, Yelena Baturina, was at MIPIM to launch the Setun Hills office development on Minskaya Ulitsa. Construction of the 570,000-square-meter complex, in three futuristically styled buildings, is due to start at the end of the year.

Finance and construction company PIK Group used MIPIM to launch two major projects. The first, the English Town on Mytnaya Ulitsa, is a 170,000-square-meter complex of business-class housing, including a distinctive 72-meter-high round tower. The second, Park Village, is billed as a deluxe-class cottage settlement, but is effectively a new town on a landscaped 40-hectare greenfield site in Zhukovka.