Muscovites Stop Razing of Historical Site

MTA view of the demolished Deacon’s House, left, and the Church of the Resurrection in Kadashi, right, built in 1695.

Dozens of Muscovites resumed a protest Monday to prevent work to raze historical buildings on a protected plot of land where developers plan to build an elite apartment complex.

About 50 people, including members from the youth branches of Yabloko and A Just Russia, prevented builders from working on Kadashevsky Tupik, a small street in downtown Moscow near the protected Church of the Resurrection in Kadashi.

Preservationists say construction of the Five Capitals apartment complex poses a danger to the foundation of the church and will contribute to the city's crumbling cultural image.

"People gathered to demand documents allowing the developer to proceed with the demolition. But the developer showed no documents, only useless pieces of paper," said Yulia Grebennikova, who took part in the protest.

Last week, builders began dismantling the Chamber of Olenevy, which is part of the architectural ensemble that included the church, and a nearby confectionery plant from the late 19th century.

The work resumed Monday morning, said Grebennikova, who works in the Kadashevskaya Sloboda museum located on the territory of the church.

Demolition at the site was suspended late last year following a public uproar after builders dismantled the Deacon’s House, which was given to the church at the end of the 1800s.

Preservationists said the Deacon's House and Chamber of Olenevy were of great historical value because they were the church's authentic surroundings.

Protesters created a human shield Monday to prevent construction equipment from removing the remains of the Deacon's House, which are still of great value, Grebennikova said.

In April, Mayor Yury Luzhkov's public city planning council reconsidered the Five Capitals project, cutting the development area from 36,000 square meters to 15,000 square meters. The council also decided to cut the number of stores in the complex to three, from six.

The complex, which is supposed to have five mansions named London, Paris, Rome, Vienna and Tokyo, was worth about $50 million before the financial crisis, Interfax reported.

Five Capitals was supposed to be finished by late last year, according to Armon Real Estate's web site, but it was delayed because of the protests. Apartments in the complex were to range in price from 621,152 rubles to 1.37 million rubles ($20,000 to $44,000) per square meter.

The redesigned project will be "a good combination of all the requirements and conditions that need to be taken into account," Luzhkov said in April.  

The new complex will not damage the historical image of downtown Moscow, said Ivan Sinitsyn, construction manager for Five Capitals.

"The front and architecture of the buildings will look like the 18th- and 19th-century mansions in the Zamoskvorechye district," he told The Moscow Times.

Grebennikova said any work on land neighboring the church was not legitimate, since the development project had not been approved yet.

"Nothing should be done on the property before there's an approved project," she told The Moscow Times.

In February, city prosecutors banned demolition work before the new project was approved, she said.

But Sinitsyn said City Hall's cultural heritage committee had given the company a permit to dismantle the historical buildings two weeks ago. He said workers were only removing buildings that were of no historical value.

Construction could start by the end of the year, Sinitsyn said.

City Hall's cultural heritage committee declined to comment. No one was available for comment at Torgproduktservis, which was listed at the construction site as the builder.

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