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Questions follow plans for a monster Moscow

File Photo of Aerial View of Kremlin and Nearby Portions of Moscow
file photo
Moscow is set to more than double in size ­ and the latest efforts to build a global financial center will shift from the abortive Moskva-Citi scheme to a new home along Rublyovka.

The rapid expansion of Europe's biggest city has been proposed by Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and Moscow Region Governor Boris Gromov, in response to ideas proposed by President Dmitry Medvedev last month.

Preliminary plans, which have been put forward without any detailed costings, would see a tranche of land in the southwest between Varshavskoye and Kievskoye Shosses incorporated into the city, Interfax reported.

And Gromov added that there were tentative plans to station Moscow's long-awaited international finance hub in the western Rublyovo-Arkhangelskoye district famed for its wealthy "cottage" communities beloved of Moscow's richest.

Questions raised

Experts, however, were skeptical about many of the merits of the proposals.

They questioned the lack of open land ready for development, and suggested it would be more sensible for the capital to take over existing satellite towns such as Khimki rather than build new communities from scratch.

And there were fears that far from solving congestion, moving officials to out-of-town offices would merely relocate the jams in different parts of town.

No space

Maxim Leshchev, of GEO Development, told Interfax that most of the land in question was already owned ­ mostly by a handful of landlords ­ or was part of the national forest fund.

The principle landowner is the Masshtab group, with Platinum bank, Absolut group, MDK and East Line also having a large swathe of the land.

Meanwhile MDK's deputy general director Alexei Tonkonogov warned that homeowners already in the region were unlikely to be impressed.

And he added that his company's plans for more low-rise and townhouse developments, targeted at Russia's burgeoning middle class, would be unaffected by the proposed changes, saying the only difference would be a couple of years worth of additional red tape.

Traffic troubles

A representative of heritage group Arkhnadzor also raised doubts, mostly concerned with transport.

Part of Medvedev's vision would see officials moving out of Moscow in an effort to curb city-center congestion.

But Natalya Samover warned that these proposals ran the risk of merely shifting the problem around.

"Just because federal agencies are now in the center does not mean that moving them somewhere else won't create new traffic jams," she told Interfax.

"This needs to be backed up with a strong development of public transport in this area."

But she gave broad support to the idea of trying to stem the flow of commuters from the suburbs to the city every day.


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