By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The Armenian authorities inaugurated on Tuesday the launch of an ambitious plan to build a new street in central Yerevan which will erase one of the city’s old and rundown neighborhoods.
The $150 million construction project, the largest in Yerevan’s post-Soviet history, is due to be mainly financed by the private sector and completed by the end of 2006. Officials said $60 million worth of construction work will be carried out this year.
Some of the decrepit houses standing in the way of the new street, named Northern Avenue, have already been torn down. Their owners have been offered financial compensation or apartments in other parts of the city.
Most of the state-owned land will be auctioned off to private real estate developers who are expected to construct office buildings, hotels, shops and entertainment sites. The architectural design of the would-be buildings has been approved by the city authorities.
“We are now working mainly with Russian companies. They have already bought four plots of land,” Yerevan Mayor Robert Nazarian told reporters at the opening ceremony attended by President Robert Kocharian. Nazarian said other foreign firms are also showing “strong interest” in the project.
Northern Avenue will provide a shortcut from the National Opera House to Republic Square, the two main landmarks of the Armenian capital.