The Historical Center of Krasnoyarsk Gets into a New Mess

The Historical Center of Krasnoyarsk Gets into a New Mess
A yet another time, investors have made public a plan to build an ultramodern office complex in Strelka, an urban locality under the administrative jurisdiction of the town of Lesosibirsk in the Krasnoyarsk territory, near the place where the River Kacha flows into the Yenisei. The local people once again have gotten a reason for worries.

CIFAL Development, a Russian-French company, is going to build several business centers and a five-star hotel in the city center near the place where the River Kacha flows into the Yenisei. The estimated cost of the project is 25 billion rubles. The projects are to be implemented in the next five years. However, this is not the first attempt on the part of big business to set sights on Strelka in the last decades. So far none of them has been successful.

Strelka is the historical center of the city. In the early XVII century, the first Cossack fort was built there by voivode Andrey Dubensky. It was that place where the city of Krasnoyarsk began to grow from. In the 1970s and 1980s, Strelka's image underwent significant architectural changes. The Grand Concert Hall, the Philharmonic Society Hall, the Lenin Museum and a cable-stayed bridge to Tatyshev Island were built there. Сonstruction of KATEKNIIugol, the first Krasnoyarsk skyscraper, started there, too. By the time of collapse of the Soviet Union, housing development had finished in that area, and no significant architectural changes were expected. However, market relations turned out to be more important than the brainchildren of Soviet architects. So, the Chinese Trade City shopping complex was erected near the KATEK skyscraper that has never been completed. As it began to fall apart quite quickly and posed a risk to visitors, the supervisory authorities decided quite a few years ago to close it. The building of the Territorial Arbitration Court was also built nearby.

Under Mayor Pyotr Pimashkov, there were plans to build a huge office center on the Yenisei embankment near the Cultural and Historical Center, as the Lenin Museum is now called. The project has somehow stalled, although in those years infill development projects almost completely replaced historical buildings in the city center. A few years ago another controversial project came into spotlight: the Krasnoyarsk diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church is harboring plans to build a cathedral on Strelka. It is expected to be placed in a pedestrian zone opposite the Grand Concert Hall. The authorities gave consent to it, although the dispute between the Orthodox churchgoers and atheists was tense, even if it did not go as far as Yekaterinburg (in 2019, about 2,000 people have protested against a church being built on a park square in Yekaterinburg there.) Residents are worried that Krasnoyarsk has fewer and fewer pedestrian zones for strolling, and one of them is the embankment on Strelka. They do not understand why the church should be built here. Fortunately, there are more suitable places for the construction of a building of this kind in the city than a recreation area which is equidistant from the city districts.

Today, there is a new cause for debates -- the CIFAL Development project. Technically, the investor agreement with the mayor’s offices on construction was signed a year ago at the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum. However, the residents learned this information with considerable delay as always. The questions are all the same. At present, there is nothing at the site of the planned construction -- only a large hill, garbage and wild grass. Certainly, in terms of landscaping, the construction of modern buildings would be better for this place. However, if this area were just cleaned, pedestrian zones and a square were built, it would be the best possible option. Especially since a part of the rest of the recreation area on Strelka is going to be given to the church. It is time to change the approach suggesting that "business interests must be put first and those of people come next". 

The potential developer has already presented his arguments for the construction project. The main one is that Krasnoyarsk needs a site of the class of this kind for its status. "Our company is planning to build a business center of Class A, including a five-star hotel. It is connected with oil production and ore mining/processing projects. And a business area of this kind fits perfectly well in here," says Sergey Volotkevich, co-owner of CIFAL Development. However, there are a lot of unfinished office buildings in Krasnoyarsk, which indicates the overrating of the market. The same KATEK building on Strelka, the owners of which were changed so many times, remains unfinished for a long time. Although in recent years there have been discussions that large companies should be based in the regions where they have their core businesses, they still prefer to have their headquarters in Moscow. Last year, RUSAL, the country’s leading producer of nonferrous metals announced the forthcoming relocation of its head office to Krasnoyarsk. However, the management of the company has already claimed that it will build a residence on its own. Vankorneft, a subsidiary of the major oil corporation Rosneft, is also sitting pretty: its office is situated in the so-called First Tower in Vzletka, a neighborhood near Yemelyanovo international airport.

"I do not believe in the rapid development of the office real estate market. Today, most companies are reducing the size of their offices,” Maxim Omelyanuk, director for development of the Krom Real Estate Agency, told “Small businesses are moving over to online sales. I am quite sure that if a modern office center is created, there will be federal or large regional companies that would want offices there. But I don't have any information yet on the rental requests from these large companies."