Remaking Moscow lures more Chinese investment

By Tom McGregor, CNTV Commentator attended the 2015 Moscow Forum, hosted by Moscow City Government. Local officials discussed Moscow’s business climate. We will post a 5-part series of Special Reports, “China’s New Silk Road connects with Russia.” This is Part V.

Moscow’s population stands at approximately 15 million that coincide with rising birth rates and rural Russians migrating to the capital city. Yet, Moscow confronts serious overcrowding and congestion.

Remaking Moscow lures more Chinese investment

The City government has embarked on urban renewal initiatives to highlight its architectural wonders and natural landscapes. The proposals are dubbed, “New Moscow” and “Moscow River Basin” development projects.

On July 1, 2012, Moscow enlarged its borders to include two districts, along with 19 urban and rural settlements that account for an added 150,000 hectares of land.

Additionally, the Moscow River’s 201-km. shoreline within the municipality will get a revamp to accommodate better housing, public parks and scenic sites.

New Moscow for new Muscovites

Moscow offers plenty of natural scenery and open spaces. Therefore, property developers see opportunity where other look at flat land. The New Moscow covers previously uninhabited territory. Hence, local residents were shocked to learn that such a barren area would get an urban touch.

But after witnessing its amazing transformation, an opinion poll conducted a few months ago disclosed that more than 40 percent of locals plan to move to New Moscow in the near future.

“This is easy to explain,” said Sergo Kukhianidze, editor-in-chief of Capital Ideas magazine. “New Moscow has a lot more space … Living in a house that is next to a forest and river is the dream of many city residents.”

Officials have drafted plans for 100 million sq. meters of new real estate, along with 53 km. of new Metro lines, 700 km. – roads, 1,200 km. – high-speed railways and nine transport hubs.

Moscow River gets trendy flow

Local urban planners hope to inspire greater civic pride. For inland cities, rivers mark prime real estate locations for commercial and residential development.

Nonetheless, the Moscow River Basin remains largely under-developed. Last year, City officials had launched a competition for architects to redesign the zone. Candidates were required to draw up “eco-friendly public spaces, more pedestrian ramps and modernized infrastructure.”

Moscow-based design firm “Project Meganom” was selected as the winner. Meanwhile, city officials have pledged to spend 1/3 of all tax revenues on citywide infrastructure projects.

Overcoming city congestion challenges

Could Moscow become a victim of its own success? Officials are creating a mega city to lure more companies, jobs and tourists here. However, would other regions in the nation suffer from Moscow’s rise?

Sergey Kuznetsov, chief architect of Moscow, had addressed the topic when speaking with His team did factor in those concerns at the beginning.

“But we are working on behalf of the capital city and it’s our duty to make Moscow a more livable place for our residents and to make it more appealing for foreigners to invest here,” said Kuznetsov.

He added, “Other Russian cities should closely monitor our models and learn from our experiences to create great cities too.”

Setting the stage for a stronger Russia

However, Russia continues to face numerous challenges – Western governments-imposed sanctions on Moscow, ruble currency devaluation and a recession.

Nevertheless, Muscovites remain resilient and optimistic, believing that their city and nation will re-emerge stronger than before.

They support “New Moscow” and “Moscow River Basin” revitalization plans and encourage Chinese investors to take a closer look in taking part.

One of the most popular Putin T-shirts on sale has the slogan, “Russia shall never fail” emblazoned on it. Well, that represents the Russian spirit today.

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