The government approved on Thursday the sale of the Armenian Foreign Ministry building in Yerevan for more than $51 million which it said will be mostly spent on the construction of new ministry premises.
The imposing building located in the city’s main Republic Square, opposite the Prime Minister’s Office, was built in the late 1940s and was for decades occupied by various Soviet Armenian government ministries. It has housed the Foreign Ministry for almost 20 years. Two of its sections are also occupied by the ministries of energy and local government.
The buyer, a company called Tango, is reportedly owned by Eduardo Eurnekian, an Argentinean billionaire of Armenian descent. Eurnekian’s Corporacion America group manages Yerevan’s Zvartnots international airport. The tycoon also has other business interests in Armenia.
Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian and members of his cabinet approved the sale after its details were presented to them by Arman Sahakian, head of a government agency managing state-owned properties. Sahakian told the cabinet the deal commits Tango to maintaining the building’s current external appearance.
A separate government statement said that the private firm plans to turn the 14,000 square-meter structure into a five-start hotel that will become part of an “internationally renowned hotel chain.”
The statement said the company is also obliged to construct a new Foreign Ministry building elsewhere in downtown Yerevan by September 2015. The Armenian government will pay for the construction with proceeds from the sale, it added.
The government declined to specify the likely cost of the construction work. “I can’t tell you a concrete price,” Sahakian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “But I think that it cannot exceed or equal the price at which we are selling the building.”
According to another government source, the new government building will accommodate not only the Foreign Ministry but also the ministries of energy, local government, justice and Diaspora affairs.