Topic: St. Petersburg
Russia’s tourist Mecca, St. Petersburg, is bracing for a large-scale renovation of its historical center worth trillions of rubles, according to Georgy Poltavchenko, the city’s governor.
The seven neighborhoods of those making up the UNESCO world heritage site are getting ready for a thorough “inventory taking” and for two others – Kolomna and Konyushennaya Ploshchad – restoration projects are to be prepared, Poltavchenko said in an interview to Gorod 812.
“When we started working, we realized that we can’t do everything at the same time, and therefore we divided the [restoration] program into stages,” the city boss told the publication. The estimated cost of the entire project is 4 trillion rubles “according to the most modest calculations,” he added.
‘St. Petersburg is not Pompeii’
The large-scale project will not preserve every historical building in the area, and the city boss doesn’t conceal this fact.
The demolition ban eating away the city center is to be lifted, Poltavchenko said. “If we don’t change the legislation, we can just give up the preservation program of the historical center,” he was quoted as saying.
“St. Petersburg is not Pompeii, thank God, it’s a living city,” he said. Historical buildings considered as having no special value and providing poor living condition for their residents are to be knocked down, he added.
Preservation activists have prepared a 200-page book listing all the threatened historical monuments in the city on the Neva for the June’s UNESCO session in the city, according to heritage watchdog Arkhnadzor.
Poltavchenko’s deputy, Sergei Vyazalov, set the price for restoration works as 75 percent less in an earlier interview with Interfax. He also said that the city’s administration was going to endorse the program in the upcoming autumn.
The city governor, however, seems to have already approved the financial schemes for the project. The restoration of the first two neighborhoods carried out between 2013 and 2015 will require 69 billion from the budget.
Five other city areas will need more 360 billion, he said, from which 160 billion are expected to come from private investors.
Editor's Note: During a recent visit to St. Petersburg I was walking across the Troitsky Bridge which spans the Neva River while taking in the beautiful views of the city. It was from this vantage point that I noticed a number of new modern glass and steel buildings nestled between historic buildings, as well as building cranes in various locations on the horizon. Sadly, the historic skyline of St. Petersburg has already been ruined, thanks to greedy developers and crooked politicians. Paul Gilbert
© The Moscow News. 21 August, 2012