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Itera to Spend Billions Building Minsk-City

Published: August 7, 2007 (Issue # 1295)


MINSK It may be better known as the capital city of Europes last dictatorship but Minsk is looking to turn itself into an international financial and business hub.

Now, oil and gas giant Itera looks set to invest tens of billions of dollars in a massive new business and residential center in the heart of the city.

Conceived along the same lines as the ambitious Moskva-City project, the 300-hectare Minsk-City would eventually dwarf even its Russian counterpart.

On Tuesday, representatives from Iteras construction arm, Interainvest Holding, held a meeting with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk to discuss the project.

During the meeting, Iteras interest in broadening its cooperation with Belarus was underlined, the company said in a news release. As part of this we discussed Iteras involvement in constructing the Minsk-City residential and administrative business center.

The Minsk-City proposal put forward by Itera envisions living space for up to 38,000 inhabitants, high-rise administrative-business complexes and a central 80-story skyscraper. The project would be built in the Aeroport district of the city, Itera said in a statement.

The project could cost around $30 billion, Russian media reports said.

Work is slated to start on the project in 2009, the official Belarus press agency reported.

The Minsk-City project was first mooted in May when Lukashenko set Minsks City Hall a timetable to come up with plans for the development, a statement from Lukashenkos office said.

Since being elected president of Belarus in 1994, Lukashenko has faced a barrage of international criticism over his perceived authoritarian rule, a clampdown on opposition parties and rigged elections.

In 2004, the United States introduced a series of targeted economic sanctions against Lukashenkos government for undermining the countrys democratic processes and for human rights abuses. Asked how viable the Minsk-City project is, Mihails Morozovs, managing partner of Colliers International in the Baltic states and Belarus, said many people had doubts about the feasibility of the Moskva-City project to begin with.

It is a question of how long-term your horizons are, Morozovs said.

If Lukashenko is personally behind the project, this could help speed the drive toward development, Morozovs said, citing Mayor Yury Luzhkovs personal backing for projects in Moscow.

If Minsk wishes to be recognized not only on the political but also on the business map of the future, then it has to have certain infrastructure. Minsk-City is one of the key points in this strategy, Morozovs said.

At present there are only around 70,000 square meters of Class A and Class B office space in Minsk, a very low figure for a city of 2 million people, Morozovs said.

Morozovs said there were both negative and positive aspects of working in Minsk, citing serious administrative control over the market. He said developers in Minsk faced greater difficulties than in Moscow. Any major architectural development would have to go hand in hand with massive investment into basic infrastructure, such as road and rail, Morozovs said.





 

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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