Marc Chagall. Blue house. 1920
Opinions are often divided into diametrically opposed ones – from enthusiasm about solving the main Moscow problems – traffic jams and overcrowding, to gloomy predictions of a crazy rise in real estate prices and a worsening situation with transport links and the general standard of living of ordinary Muscovites.
To understand the prospects that open up for the Russian capital and its inhabitants in the light of the latest decision of the authorities, it is worth considering all points of view, and it is better to start traditionally – with history.
The upcoming expansion is far from the first in Moscow’s centuries-old existence. Having appeared in the XII-XIII centuries, the first ring of the capital – the Kremlin itself, already at the end of the XIV century expanded to the borders of Veliky Posad, and during the time of Ivan the Terrible Moscow was already three formed rings around the historical center – the Zemlyanoy Val was added to the two that already existed, passing along modern Garden Ring.
The nearest large-scale expansion of the city’s borders took place in 1960, when the territories between the Small Ring of the Moscow Railways and the Moscow Ring Road were annexed to Moscow, which almost doubled the area of the capital. In 1963 Zelenograd was attached to the white stone. The next expansion of Moscow – not so significant – took place in 1983. Then Butovo, Solntsevo, Novoperedelkino and several nearby villages became part of the metropolis. In the future, Moscow more than once “bite off” small plots of land from the region – in particular, a piece of land in Shcherbinka – for the construction of social housing for people on the waiting list, as well as part of the Lyubertsy fields – also for the construction of residential buildings. However, the current expansion has every chance of becoming the most global in the history of the Russian capital..
If we consider the results of the expansion of Moscow in the light of dry figures, then the area of the white stone will increase by 2.35 times – from the present 107 thousand square kilometers to 251 thousand.
As a result of such a sharp increase in area, Moscow will immediately rise in the ranking of the largest cities in the world from 31st to 7th place. At the same time, the planned annexation of sparsely populated areas located in the south-west of the capital, mainly between the Varshavskoye and Kievskoye highways, will increase the population of Moscow by only 250 thousand inhabitants, since there is only one fairly large city on this territory – Troitsk. This, of course, opens up prospects for large-scale construction in undeveloped territories and, in theory, a decrease in the population density in Moscow from the current 11 thousand people per square kilometer to 5-6 free people per square kilometer (by the way, for comparison, in Berlin at present the density population is only 4 thousand people per 1 square kilometer).
Postcards of the Einem publishing house. Moscow in 2259. 1914
From the point of view of the Moscow mayor’s office, the expansion of the capital’s territory will bring a lot of advantages:
- the transfer of the main government institutions – the presidential administration, the courts, the Moscow government, the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Accounts Chamber, the Federation Council, numerous educational, health and scientific centers from the center of the capital to a new territory, which can remove a significant part of the load from the transport routes of the historic city center;
- creation of new jobs beyond the “old” line of Moscow;
- solving the problem of Moscow traffic jams, since thousands of citizens will be able to find work in the new territory, and if all federal officials move to new places, then about 200 thousand people will change their jobs;
- the emergence of free land plots for the construction of social housing – apartments for the waiting list, cheap housing for young families and low-rise buildings;
- social benefits for residents of the annexed territories who will receive the status of the capital – benefits, an increase in pensions, special allowances for young parents, the poor, single mothers, and so on.
Sergei Sobyanin, who has promised the newly-minted Muscovites numerous social benefits, and the residents of the “old” line of the city, an improvement in the standard of living in general, advocate for the expansion of the capital; Mikhail Blinkin, scientific director of the Research Institute of Transport and Roads, believes that the transfer of the government apparatus will solve the problem of traffic jams; Alexander Strelnikov, a leading researcher at the Central Research Institute of Urban Development, who noted that places for cheap hotels will appear in the center of the capital; Marat Khusnullin, Deputy Mayor of Moscow for Urban Development Policy and Construction, who called this strategic decision “correct and logical” and even some representatives of opposition parties.
However, do not forget about the possible disadvantages of the upcoming global expansion of the capital’s territory:
- first of all, ecologists began to sound the alarm, concerned that the main part of the southwestern territory is occupied by forests and forest plantations, most of which can be cut down for the places of the upcoming building. According to representatives of the “green”, this can significantly worsen the ecological situation in the capital and increase the level of pollution of the already not very clean air in Moscow;
- budgetary provision of Muscovites due to the appearance of new residents of the capital may fall by at least 2-3%;
- the historical center of the capital, which will be abandoned not only by officials, but also by representatives of big business, can become a real “zone of trouble”;
- The Moscow Ring Road may turn into a “stranglehold” around the neck of Moscow, which has increased its area, and the problem of traffic jams will become even more acute;
- a sharp rise in the cost of land plots and apartments in the annexed territory will become a source of fabulous profits for realtors and developers, but will not help ordinary Muscovites solve the housing problem;
- such a large-scale construction and development of a new territory will bring huge budgetary costs and at whose expense new government buildings will be erected is not yet known;
- a global restructuring of the entire transport system of the city will be required – in particular, the modernization of the Kaluga highway, as well as solving the problem of traffic jams at the exit from the Kiev highway to the Moscow ring road;
- the losers will be residents of other territories of the Moscow region, who will still remain residents of the Moscow region and will not receive access to the capital’s benefits;
- for residents of the eastern parts of the Moscow region, such as Mytishchi, Balashikha and Korolev, the most densely populated ones, the expansion of the capital will not be a solution to the problem of daily commuting to work associated with crossing the border of a neighboring federal subject;
- the land plots on which the dachas of the townspeople near Moscow are now located will be confiscated into the municipal fund for construction by government facilities and residential complexes, which cannot but disturb the owners of country houses in the south-west of the capital.
Of course, at present, Sobyanin promises that the redemption of land plots on which government and scientific institutions will appear in the future will be carried out in accordance with the legislation – at market value and with compensation for building a house in a new location, however, the exact scheme of such a redemption has not yet been approved, and few summer residents want to voluntarily leave their well-kept plots of land.
Vladimir Manyukhin. Moscow after the apocalypse.
The director general of the Institute of Urban Economics, Alexander Puzanov, has already spoken out against such an expansion of the capital, noting that the disadvantages as a result outweigh all the advantages of joining a huge territory; Sergei Udaltsov, leader of the Left Front organization, who called the decision to annex the southwestern territories to the capital “a large-scale pre-election PR campaign”; Alexander Ageev, chairman of the council of the regional branch of the Fair Russia party, who believes that the billions of dollars allocated for the development of the new territory will become another “budget feeding trough for officials,” as well as many other representatives of the LDPR, Yabloko and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.
Some analysts, in particular a political scientist and professor at the Russian State Humanitarian University, Sergei Chernyakhovsky, believe that the authorities are simply trying to protect themselves in the event of popular protests, because “it is much easier to introduce tanks outside the Moscow Ring Road than blocking the center of Moscow with military equipment.”.
Real estate experts are unanimous in one thing – just on information about the upcoming expansion of Moscow territory, realtors can raise the value of real estate by at least 5%. In the future, when it becomes known exactly where the new Government House and other buildings for officials will be erected, the cost of housing in the nearby areas of the new location of the authorities could sharply increase by 25-50%.
In any case, one should expect an increase in the value of land plots in the southwestern part of the capital, as well as living space. According to realtors, if today the average price per square meter in this area is set at 76.5 thousand rubles, then in the next 2-3 years it will reach 110-130 thousand rubles, and in the future it will “pull up” to the Moscow level, which, recall that it reaches an average of 160 thousand rubles per square meter.
But the cost of country houses, summer cottages and cottages located in the zone of future large-scale construction will fall sharply – initially by 5-10%, and after the start of construction of government buildings by at least 20-40%, which is quite understandable – why buy real estate, which a sad fate may befall. Do not forget that in the south-west there are two large cottage settlements belonging to the groups “Scale” and “Absolute”, which, of course, have everything in order with the land documents, but this, most likely, will not protect the owners of new country houses from the encroachments of officials.
The largest revenues will be received by those companies that already own large land plots in this area – their profit can amount to tens of billions of dollars, even if multi-storey buildings with the most inexpensive, budget apartments appear on their land.
Of course, several more years will pass before the start of any global construction work on the new territory of the capital, it is too early to talk about exactly approved plans for the transfer of government facilities, a revision of the Master Plan for the development of the capital is to be done, only after the approval of which it will become clear what exactly awaits the capital in the future … However, the growth in the value of real estate may begin long before the start of the process of direct accession of 144 thousand hectares of land near Moscow to the city..