New Moscow: development alternatives
On April 12, the TASS News Agency press center hosted a discussion session of the Gorod Moscow Center for Urban Studies. The dialogue brought together experts in completely different domains – law-makers, real estate specialists, representatives of developers, investors, urbanists, economists, architects, sociologists and representatives of the Town-Planning Policy and Construction Complex.
Experts, businessmen and government officials set to discuss the results of almost 5 years of the Troitsky and Novomoskovksy Administrative Districts (TaNAD) development, and the main areas of the New Moscow General Plan through 2035. The results of the latest poll on the subject of the labor market of New Moscow were also presented to the audience.
Vladimir Zhidkin, Head of Moscow New Territories Development Department, who is having yet another meeting with the expert community to conduct direct dialogue on the subject of the TaNAD issues, noted reaching an important milestone – main area planning documents being accepted: On March 15, the Moscow City Duma approved a general plan for New Moscow, with the Rules of Development and Land Use in the Capital approved shortly after.
Vladimir Zhidkin specifically mentioned that 2/3 of the Rules of Development and Land Use were targeting the creation of jobs, and the General Plan itself provided for the creation of 1 mln jobs and housing for 1.5 mln people. Moreover, 1,200 km of roads, 125 healthcare facilities, 86 parks, 700 sports facilities, 320 kindergartens and 170 schools are to be built by 2035.
The main principle of New Moscow development is to create a comfortable living environment, i.e., each new residential area originally provides for the creation of jobs, social facilities meeting any demand of the residents, parks, recreational areas and all required infrastructural facilities. Another principle necessarily implemented in the creation of any such ‘growth point’ is the mobility of accessing any city infrastructural facility, so that the residents would not have to spend more than 30 minutes to reach the necessary location.
The vast area of New Moscow, which is 1.5 times larger than the area of the ‘old’ part of the capital, 40 thousand hectares of vacant land and 76 thousand hectares of green areas present a massive resource for development, allowing to create in the long term an eco-friendly city comfortable to live and work in. Specifically, this resource allows building housing of any type and format, to fit every taste and within a broad price range. According to Vladimir Zhidkin, this might be a factor driving population growth in the TaNAD: over the last 5 years, the population of these districts increased 1.5 times (from 220 thousand to 330 thousand residents).
Today, projects having all kinds of purposes are being implemented in the areas added to Moscow. 8 mln sq.m. of residential and 3 mln sq.m. of commercial premises have been built, as well as 47 social facilities; 4 roads, 2 Metro stations and 5 large parks have been commissioned; 100 thousand new jobs have been created (of which 80 thousand are permanent and 20 thousand are occupied by construction specialists). New jobs are evenly distributed among all settlements.
Anton Paleev, Deputy of the Moscow City Duma for TaNAD, also mentioned the importance of the New Moscow General Plan acceptance. When working on this document, during the entire last year, the law-makers considered over 24 thousand comments, most of which were taken into account. The main concern of the residents was mitigating environmental damage caused by the construction of thoroughfares and maintaining the polycentric development trend, with ‘growth points’ concentrated in compact living communities. And the Moscow new area development department used its best efforts to meet these demands. Currently, negative environmental intervention is minimal even compared to similar projects in the countries of Western Europe, with most of the planned 1, 200 km of new roads to go through vacant areas, bypassing forests and parks.
Before their addition to Moscow, the areas of the current Troitsky and Novomoskovsky Districts were being developed in a very uneven manner, primarily, in terms of the transportation infrastructure, noted the deputy. Current plans of Troitsk and New Moscow settlements development will be fully integrated into the General Plan, which is necessary for resolving both, social and infrastructural tasks.
The report of Vladimir Zhidkin prompted an active discussion by the participants. The attendees were interested in a number of matters, ranging from waste disposal to the planned cultural facilities in New Moscow.
Sergey Notin, Director of Investment at City-XXI Century development company, shared his concerns that demand for housing in the TaNAD might go down due to another large-scale program providing for demolition of five-storey buildings. Investors are worried that this project could eat into the number of potential New Moscow residents and reduce the level of budget financing of the added territories development.
Timur Bashkaev, Chief Architect of the Moscow Ring Railway, shares his concern. Vladimir Zhidkin assured the attendees that the implementation of these programs would not affect the adopted vector and pace of the TaNAD development.
Olga Chudinova, General Director of the Modern Urban Studies Institute, noted that the environmental component of the added territories constitutes their strong competitive advantage, and said she was looking forward to the delivery of plans to build parks and public gardens in the near future already.
But the main discussion centered around the issue of creating jobs in New Moscow. Valery Fyodorov, General Director of VCIOM (the Russian Public Opinion Research Center) presented extensive material on the subject to be considered and discussed, reporting the deliverables of the latest ‘New Moscow: Labor Market Potential’ poll.
Over the two years lapsed since the date of a similar report, the percentage of positive assessment by residents of changes taking place in New Moscow has grown. While two years ago, positive changes were noted by 61% of the respondents, today, this figure has increased to 71%. At that, residents who moved to the TaNAD (during the last 5 years) are those maintaining the most optimistic outlook. Most frequently noted changes are the ones in the areas of urban amenities provision (72.5%) and transport infrastructure (69.4%, which is almost 18% higher than the figure of 2015). And the demand for new housing construction is still relevant: only 29% of the respondents have noted positive changes in this area.
It may be said that the integration of ‘old’ and ‘new’ Moscow is growing: residents of ‘old Moscow’ are now visiting New Moscow more frequently (42% vs 35% two years ago) and are using public transport for such trips 1.5 times more actively. Primarily, this applies to the residents of the Western Administrative District and South-Western Administrative District, adjacent to the new areas.
And the child-friendliness factor has gone down: in 2015, the number of satisfied respondents was 66%, with the current figure of 55.5%. The same applies to recreation: 39% of satisfied respondents in 2015 vs the current 31%. However, a similar and even more pronounced trend is being observed in the ‘old’ Moscow, as well.
Analyzing the risks and options of building a labor market in the TaNAD, Mr. Fyodorov mentioned that relative proximity of home and work has always been and still remains an ideal option for the Muscovites. There is a certain imbalance currently observed on the labor market in New Moscow. 75% of the residents who moved to New Moscow over the last five years have been able to find a job within the district, but it mostly requires a low level of skills, with a low salary paid (security, sales and non-profit sectors). At the moment, a third of the New Moscow residents continue to commute to the ‘historical’ capital to work, being mostly highly-skilled personnel with a higher than average income. 73% of those who have relocated would like to find a job in the area.
Today, as Mr. Fyodorov has mentioned, 34% of the ‘old Moscow residents’ consider relocation to New Moscow a possibility, and this figure totals 4 mln people! They are economically active, have a high purchasing capacity and include quite a number of young families with kids. The highest potential for relocation is observed in the 3 adjacent areas – Western Administrative District, South-Western Administrative District and Southern Administrative District (40-42%). People are attracted by a well-developed transportation network, cheaper housing and, naturally, the ecology. But the availability of jobs is still a crucial factor. Finance and banking sector, scientific and technological clusters and the opportunity to start own business are the most sought-after options.
A similar position was voiced by Evgeny Plisetsky, Deputy Director of the Institute of Regional Studies and Urban Planning of the Higher School of Economics: creation of economic growth points in New Moscow requires highly efficient jobs. The expert called on the government representatives to provide respective incentives for investors and assess the TaNAD development indicators using not only square meters of housing, number of jobs and kilometers or roads, but also by introducing qualitative metrics for the environment and jobs being created.
Lyubov Tsvetkova, Chairman of the Management Board of the Moscow Investors Association, noted that the investors had long ago agreed that hotspot construction of residential houses is impossible, as an area needs comprehensive development, including retail, social facilities, entertainment and jobs. Such integrated projects, however, may only be implemented by major developers. Construction of business centers and technological clusters is not in itself a cure: efficient management is required to attract tenants for such facilities and ensure generation of profit. The expert shared the plans related to the development of one of such integrated facilities, Marushkino near Vnukovo.
Yulia Nikulicheva, Director, Russia and CIS, Head of Strategic Consulting at JLL, presented details of a similar project using the example of Marne-la-Vallée in Paris. Disneyland was one of the main investors of this project, and the municipal authorities took on the task of transportation infrastructure construction. Moreover, some of the state services moved to the valley. This is currently the most successful entertainment park in Europe, attracting multitudes of tourists and creating its own jobs. In addition to that, a low rent rate has attracted many production facilities and banks.
Elena Kiseleva, partner at the Strategy Partners Group, offered to the attendees her take on the new economic growth points in New Moscow. Ms. Kiseleva also mentioned that the jobs currently created within the added territories are more of a ‘service’ nature, and to attract highly qualified personnel, it is necessary to create anchor jobs which will be driving development in the TaNAD. Such anchor jobs may be provided by setting up themed clusters based on the example of Marne-la-Vallée, science parks and educational clusters, a medical and pharmaceutical cluster; housing and utilities servicing area with new materials and equipment, headquarters of government structures and major corporations.
Nail Saifullin, Director of Development at Mosinzhproekt JSC, shared the experience of implementing an integrated approach to the development of territories in New Moscow, having presented the project of setting up an administrative and business center near the Kommunarka village.
The territory of the Kommunarka administrative and business center having an area of 550 thousand hectares is located 4 km away from the Moscow Ring Road (MKAD), which, together with the developing transport network, will ensure a close link of the integrated facility with the ‘historical’ Moscow. Motor roads are being built here (including the Kaluzhskoe Highway and the Solntcevo-Butovo-Vidnoe road), and 2 Metro lines will be built to access Kommunarka – an extension of the Sokolniki line and the Ulitsa Novatorov – Stolbovo line, with a convenient connection provided by two transport interchange hubs. Same as all other territories of the TaNAD, Kommunarka administrative and business center will not target residential premises only (of about 4.8 mln sq.m. of residential premises built, 1.3 mln sq.m. will be housing, and 1.7 mln sq.m. will be business premises), and it is planned to attract business by accessible prices and ease of travel.
It is planned to raise RUB 402 bln of private investment for the area development; in its turn, the capital will invest RUB 45 bln into main utilities, intra-district networks, intra-district network of streets and roads, landscaping and social facilities. This amount of spending will create for the city three schools catering to 3.5 thousand students, a university campus, three Metro stations, and 20 thousand families will have an opportunity to live and work in a comfortable environment. Obviously, Moscow expects that the invested amounts will be subsequently paid back in the form of rent and tax proceeds, Mr. Saifullin clarified.