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Greater Moscow Begins to Take Shape

The new borders of the city are nearly agreed upon, with the territory of the capital set to grow 160,000 hectares — 16,000 hectares more than originally envisioned in the expansion plan.

In July, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and Governor Boris Gromov presented President Dmitry Medvedev with a plan to change the capital's boundaries, increasing the size of the city 2.35 times, from its current 107,000 hectares up to 251,000 hectares. The city was to gain territory bordered by Kievskoye Shosse and Varshavskoye Shosse and the greater ring of the Moscow railway.

Now, the mayor said the territory on the Moscow Ring Road, or MKAD, is to double (the city will get Shcherbinka); the new borders will now be beyond the greater railway ring and reach as far as the Kaluga region; Moscow is to get a big part of the Leninsky district, and the territory will go beyond the border of Kievskoye Shosse. But it will no longer extend to the border of Varshavskoye Shosse, and towns in the zone will not be divided. They will either be included in the city or remain with the regions.

Skolkovo and its innovation center will join the city. Rublyovo-Arkhangelskoye, where the international financial center is to be located, will also come under Sobyanin's jurisdiction.

The mayor said expansion would take place in several stages. The first is already done — a political decision has been made and was announced by the president at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. The second step is to develop the actual proposal.

The next step is to get agreement at the federal level. Now the city and the region need to go through the legal process of formalizing a decision via the district authorities and then a contract between the governors; then the Moscow City Duma and regional equivalent should approve the necessary laws and pass them to the Federation Council.

In a best-case scenario, the whole process should take a minimum of two years, the mayor said.

"Public hearings and referendums are not foreseen, but nevertheless we will definitely have public hearings on specific aspects of the plan connected with health care, housing infrastructure, education, landscaping and others," Sobyanin said.

After the formalities are approved, the work on the development plan for the territory will begin. The Moscow authorities are also planning to announce an international competition for developing the concept of the growth of greater Moscow.

Maxim Perov, vice president of the Russian Union of Architects, said earlier that anyone wanting to participate in the competition will be given a month to inform the organizers. The authors of the most interesting ideas will form 10 teams — six of which will be headed by Russian architects, and four by foreigners.

Read the original Vedomosti article here.

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