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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

End in Sight for Soviet Apartments in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG -- Hundreds of St. Petersburg's infamous khrushchyovki residential buildings could be facing demolition by the end of the year, St. Petersburg City Hall said Thursday.

Residents of the prefab five-story blocks, named after Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who pioneered their construction in the 1950s to solve a postwar housing crisis, will be moved to new apartments as close as possible to their original residences, officials said.

The relocation plan is due to be ready for government review in the fall, Anna Mironova, spokeswoman for City Hall's construction committee, said in an interview Thursday.

"The renovation project will begin by putting up certain areas for tender. By winning the tender, the investor receives the right to reconstruct the buildings," Mironova said.

Mironova added that the relocation drive set down conditions ensuring that displaced residents should be rehoused as close as possible to their original domicile.

"The regeneration itself will be done as follows: An investor comes to a neighborhood and erects a new residential building. They then move people from the building to be demolished to the new building, and only after that does the demolition begin," Mironova said.

Although a similar relocation drive proved successful in Moscow, it will not work in St. Petersburg, said Daniil Seledchik, head of the legal department of real estate management firm Etalon-LenSpetsSMU.

The rate of return on investment in St. Petersburg is much lower than in Moscow, and investors will not be interested in building a single tenement block in an empty, little area in the regeneration zone, Seledchik said.

Sergei Andreyev, who founded a group that is working to protect the interests of people affected by the relocations, said the idea was doomed to fail.

"Firstly, the investors taking part in the auction have to bid, and therefore pay a lot of money only so that they can be permitted to take part in the contest," Andreyev, who is also a former deputy of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, said Wednesday.

"They have to go through up to 20 different agreement procedures. As a result, they are granted the right to relocate people only from the privatized apartments. The residents of the state-owned flats in the same block building have to be dealt with by City Hall," he said. Andreyev said the procedure was doomed to fail because the relocation rates in both cases could differ greatly.

Those who own their apartments are eligible for an equivalent number of square meters of space, but those living in state-owned accommodation are only due for 9 to 12 square meters per person.

"They will torment the investor, refuse to relocate and endlessly litigate," Andreyev said.

According to statistics that his organization has collated, Andreyev said there were 100 neighborhoods in St. Petersburg with a total of 2,400 khrushchyovki. Many of them are in bad condition and need urgent renovation.

"Of the 31 neighborhoods slated for renovation, only two are more or less ready," he said. "The rest will not be dealt with for another two years."