Pokrovsky Hills Finishes Final Stage

MTAlmost all of the homes in the $100 million town house complex have been leased.
The Pokrovsky Hills town house development is almost finished after a seven-year process.

"We plan to celebrate its completion in mid-September," said project manager Yelena Kolyshkina. "We will invite all the residents, officials of the local administration and the contractors who worked on the project."

Almost all the homes in the $100 million, 207-town house project in northwestern Moscow were occupied as soon as they were built. "This project has certainly been successful for Hines, the investors, the city of Moscow but more importantly for the residents," Kolyshkina said.

The majority of tenants are international corporations that have signed long-term leases; only a handful of tenants are Russian, Kolyshkina said.

Philippe Bogdanoff, a partner at Kirsanova Realty, an affiliate of Sotheby's International Realty that specializes in the top end of the residential market, said there is limited demand from Russians for town houses.

"I see that the town house concept doesn't work in Moscow," he said. "Russians would prefer either an apartment or a house outside Moscow with a little bit of land. A town house is a hybrid."

However, Bogdanoff described Pokrovsky Hills as unique and of very high quality.

Kolyshkina said Turkish firm Tekser was the main contractor for all three stages of the project and that Hines manages the property.

Located next to the Pokrovskoye-Glebovo National Park and the Moscow Canal -- near Leningradsky Prospekt and Volokolamskoye Shosse -- the 9.2-hectare site has a neighborhood feeling, Kolyshkina said. The houses and landscaping have maintained a unified appearance through all three phases of construction.

"Many Moscow housing developments are filled with a wide variety of houses, and many residents fence off the garden area next to their houses," she said. "We have a consistent architectural style throughout the development ... and a lot of open space that the tenants greatly enjoy. This has helped create a real sense of community."

The first 103 houses were completed in December 1999, another 43 houses were finished in May 2001 and the final 61 houses this month.

Rentals for the four types of homes, ranging from 160 square meters to 340 square meters, are from $6,500 to $12,000 per month, not including operating expenses, which are about $40 per square meter per year, Kolyshkina said.

"We have worked very hard to ensure that tenants get a quality of life and service in line with what they pay," she said.

Annual tenant questionnaires have indicated that mothers want to be able to find all of their basic needs within the development. Family requirements are important because each house has an average of 1.5 children, Kolyshkina said.

Hines' efforts to meet those demands include an expanded child activity center, a small convenience store, two playground areas and a community hall project.

Hines also donated land for the Anglo-American School campus, which is supported by the embassies of the United States, Canada and United Kingdom.

The school moved to Pokrovsky Hills in the fall of 2000 and about a quarter of the school's 1,000 pupils live at the development, Kolyshkina added.

Alexander Shatalov, director at Intermark, which is the only company apart from Hines to market Pokrovsky Hills, said the project leads the out-of-town housing market primarily because of its connection to the school.

He said Pokrovsky Hills' location, security, quality of construction, property management and the transparency and legality of lease agreements were draws. However, other developments such as Setun, Rosinka, the Moscow Country Club and Serebryany Bor also have some of these factors.

"Pokrovsky Hills remains unbeatable due to the proximity to AAS, and for families with a number of school-age children and where a commute is an issue, it is often the only real alternative," Shatalov said.

Hines financed the project through the Hines/TCW/Morgan Stanley Emerging Markets Fund, which includes many large U.S. and international pension funds. Architects for the development included Kaufman Meeks of Houston, SWA Group of Dallas, Dublin-based Murray O'Laoire and local firm Trianon.

Meanwhile, Hines is considering two new developments in Moscow. "Once we have finalized the analysis of these projects we will announce them to the public," said Hines senior vice president Lee Timmons.

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