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City Plan Called a 'Death Sentence' for Moscow

More than 100 million square meters of housing will be built in Moscow over the next 15 years, according to the general plan for the city's development through 2025.

The Public Chamber has called the general plan a "death sentence" for the city. Members of the body have sought to delay its approval, arguing that the proposal does nothing to resolve the capital's traffic problems or environmental woes and that it also threatens many of the city's historical landmarks.

In part, the chamber found, only about 1,500 of Moscow's 8,500 architectural landmarks are marked on the general plan's map.

Mayor Yury Luzhkov has signed the document, his first deputy and the city's building chief, Vladimir Resin, said Friday. The law will come into force as soon as it is officially published.

Through 2025, more than 200 million square meters of space will be built in the city, of which roughly half will be residential, meaning that developers will need to produce no less than 5 million square meters per year. That would mean a significant increase from the rate of construction in the crisis year of 2009, when 2.7 million square meters were finished.

Oleg Repchenko, director of the IRN.ru analytical portal, said he thought that City Hall's construction targets were achievable, provided that Moscow does not create any additional burdens for developers.

According to the development plan, 37 million square meters of space for offices and other administrative buildings should be built, which will mean razing about 25 million square meters of existing real estate. The city's head architect, Alexander Kuzmin, has said the general plan through 2025 will allow 13,000 hectares of the current 20,000 hectares of industrial land to be developed with new buildings.

Sergei Mitrokhin, head of the liberal Yabloko party, told Vedomosti that he intended to challenge the plan's approval after it is published. Under the plan, the majority of land in the city will be handed over for commercial development, but the social interests of Muscovites are hardly represented at all, he said.

Regional Development Minister Viktor Basargin has said Moscow should approve the plan with his ministry because the city is the federal capital. A spokesperson for the ministry said Sunday that it had not approved the final version of the document.

Maxim Stolyarov, a lawyer at Knyazev & Partners, said he doubted that City Hall had any formal obligation to get the document approved with federal authorities.

First Deputy Mayor Vladimir Resin, the city's construction chief, said Friday that residential real estate prices will not rise in Moscow this year, and analysts agree that the market seems to be stabilizing.
About 3 million square meters of residential property will be built in Moscow this year, including 738,000 square meters ordered by City Hall. Last year, residential construction fell by nearly 17 percent, with 2.7 million square meters of construction, of which 800,000 square meters was for the city.
The lower volumes are largely a result of less demand from the city for social housing, said Oleg Repchenko, director of the IRN.ru analytical portal. When developers were building 5 million square meters per year in Moscow, more than 2 million square meters of those volumes were being built for City Hall, he said.

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