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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chigirinsky Plans Heirs to Dismantled Rossiya

The stars are neither aligned nor crossed, they simply do not add up.

The Hotel Rossiya will not rise phoenix-like from the void it left in the center of Moscow. Instead, it will undergo a sort of conjuring trick, by which one three-star hotel will beget four two-star hotels.

Shortages of both cement and midrange hotel rooms have led construction magnate Shalva Chigirinsky's Russian Land to try to kill two birds with one stone by using concrete blocks from the dismantled Rossiya to build new hotels.

The reuse of structural concrete, an unusual and perhaps risky gambit, seems to be motivated by a combination of the high cost of cement in the capital and the need to quickly replace some of the 3,000 midrange rooms that were lost when the Rossiya was demolished.

"The economy suggests that the concrete blocks not be wasted," said Yevgeny Bezel, the senior vice president in charge of investment sales at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels. "If Chigirinsky has this obligation to the city to build hotels, then he'll have to build some."

The Rossiya, which was built at the order of Nikita Khrushchev and completed in 1967, was a behemoth the size of 20 football fields, which, for all of its ugliness, provided vast numbers of affordable hotel rooms right off Red Square in Moscow's historic heart.

Torn down in 2006 after years of haggling among Mayor Yury Luzhkov's office, developers and preservationists, the Rossiya left a hole between St. Basil's Cathedral and the Kitai-Gorod neighborhood.

The site will be filled by the Zaryadye project, designed by Foster and Partners and slated to be built by Chigirinsky's STT Group.

The Zaryadye project is named for the pre-Soviet neighborhood that existed there. The new design "respects the historical street grid," according to a Foster and Partners news release. The project also "integrates views across the site to notable buildings, including St. Basil's Cathedral, Christ the Savior Cathedral, Red Square and ten significant historic Zaryadye buildings."

Vladimir Filonov / MT
A man walking on Monday in the lot where the Rossiya Hotel once stood.

The 360,000-square-meter mixed-use project will bring concert halls, a theater and an art museum to the center of Moscow. It will also include four hotels with 900 five-star rooms and 195 serviced apartments. A massive 18,000-square-meter shopping complex will be built underground along with parking for more than 1,400 cars. Foster and Partners estimates that the project will be completed by 2011.

The Zaryadye development is only making use of the Rossiya's prime location, however. The recycled concrete blocks will be used to build four midrange hotels somewhat further afield.

The first will be built on Anadyrsky Proyezd in the northeast of the city, near the Moscow Ring Road, or MKAD. The eight-story hotel will total more than 7,000 square meters and will have parking for around 130 cars. Two more hotels of similar design will be built -- on 2nd Karpatskaya Ulitsa in the southwest, beyond the MKAD, and near the 68th kilometer of the MKAD in the northwest. Additionally, a six-story, 6,500-square-meter hotel will be built on Saltykovskaya Ulitsa in the east.

Thus, one three-star, centrally located hotel will be transformed into four two-star hotels scattered along the city's outskirts.

"The disassembly was done with maximal care," said an employee at Satori, a company owned by Russian Land, who refused to give her name because she was not authorized to speak to the media.

"After the dismantling, an inspection of the concrete elements for secondary suitability was carried out. The suitable elements of the disassembled Hotel Rossiya are now being stored on Satori property in Moscow," she said.

"The Rossiya concrete is relatively new, and concrete is a really expensive thing here," said Bezel, whose firm, Jones Lang LaSalle, is doing consulting work on the Zaryadye project.

Not everyone is convinced, however, that the idea is viable.

"Using old cement is nonsense," said Denis Usoltsev, the head of the marketing department BaselCement. "In new constructions it is better to use new cement. It's dangerous to use old cement blocks.

"It's OK to use old cement to make aggregate, but I haven't heard of technology that will allow them to reuse old cement blocks. Maybe the firm itself has some new technology. It's the first time I've heard of it," Usoltsev said.

In addition to the four two-star hotels, the Rossiya's lost rooms will be replaced by as many as four five-star hotels that will possibly be part of the Zaryadye project.

"There has been no final approval. It's all in the planning stage," Bezel said.

The Mayor's Office was not available for comment on Friday or Monday.

Significant questions have been raised about the use of the structure, particularly its decision to cater to upscale consumers.

The Hotel Rossiya was "a three-star mecca of tourism for backpackers and tour groups," said Stephane Meyrat, the associate director of the valuation and consulting department at Colliers International.

The destruction of the Rossiya has "eradicated 3,000 rooms positioned in the mid-class or lower segment of the hotel market," he said.

Meyrat said the Zaryadye project would create five-star accommodations that would draw the rich and business travelers to an area with no conference centers and has eliminated budget lodging in a prime tourist location.

"They are building a new structure that will allow people to walk along the old street grid, but there won't be any tourists to walk there," Meyrat said.

The result will be the saturation of the high-end hotel market in central Moscow, Meyrat said.

"My recommendation would have been to construct medium-tier lodging for $200 to $250 a night," said Meyrat. "But that doesn't seem to be the priority of the developer."

"In Paris, you don't only have expensive hotels in the center," Meyrat said. "It's better to have a balance so that customers can choose. It is not a good idea."