Pioneering renovations

“Renovations for people”: how one of the development companies sneaked into the program of massive demolition of the old housing

The development company Pioner plans to build 200 apartments to resettle the residents under Moscow renovation program in exchange for their consent to demolish their old five-storey houses. Anastasia Khlopkova found out what is the Pioner and who has helped it to take part in the renovation program.

Housing on industrial scale

The Pioner development company will build a residential house in Moscow’s Western district and give 12,000 m2 of living space their to the city as a part of the renovation program. In total, the company plans to build 165,000 m2, or 3,500 apartments, a kindergarten and a school.

The construction begins in the former industrial area owned by the Defense ministry which the Pioner bought for 2.2 bln rubles (initial price at the auction was 1.3 bln).  To raise that money, the company signed up for a credit in the Moscow Credit Bank until 2021. The housing project is due to be finished in 2020.

The area under construction - map by Rosreestr

The Pioner Ltd (est 2013) is a subdivision of the Pioner group (est 2001) by Leonid Maksimov and Andrei Grudin. Their companies work in Moscow and St-Petersburg.

The Pioner was not initially included into the list of the companies participating in the renovation program. According to the executive partner of the Colliers International, Nikolai Kazansky, the list of investors could be enforced by such large developers as the PIK, LSR, Etalon and Pioner.

The Pioner has already been negotiating with Moscow mayor’s office over demolition of nine old houses.

Digging under renovations

The old five-storey houses had been demolished since Yuri Luzhkov’s tenure as Moscow mayor. But it was only in February 2017 when President Vladimir Putin ordered mayor Sergei Sobyanin the final solution of the problem.

The list of the doomed houses was completed in 2012 yet. The capital budget allocated 3.5 trl rub for the program. The investors have been interested in participation because they could develop the lands under the “Krushchevki” on the public money and give jobs to the workers. That means, no companies have been included in the program on random.

The Pioner also has connections among the city officials and members of the city Duma. Oleg Soroka (United Russia) had worked in the company in 2009-2014, when he was elected a member of the city parliament. His post in the company had been taken over by Artem Eiramjants, who came from the PIK group.

Now Soroka works as a deputy head of the commission for development, state property and land usage. In 1991-2009 he served in the Federal Guard service.

Soroka also used to be a top manager of the Grineks company, which is a key shareholder in the Pioner.

Commercial memory

The structures of the Pioner controlled by Oleg Soroka started to win the contracts in 2016 only. In October, the Grineks signed a contract on 64.3 mln rub with the Moscow united energy company.  The same year, the Pioner signed a 839.7-mln-ruble contract with the Presidential Administration’s affairs department (UDP). The Pioner agreed to buy 73 apartments in Moscow’s less attractive areas.

In 2015, the UDP ordered 104 apartments for the same money near the Moscow ring road. Then, the contracts were won by the Mosfundamentstroi-6 ZAO. Its minority co-owner was the head of the UDP’s Main construction department Oleg Perlin.

It seems that the Pioner wins contracts only in Moscow’s North-Western district represented in the city Duma by Oleg Soroka.

In his Facebook account, Soroka often writes about the renovation program. He, however, did not mention the rally against demolition held in Moscow on May 14. But the city parliamentary had written a post about a meeting in the City Duma on May 17, where the final edition of the bill about renovation was adopted.

“I am happy that the residents of numerous obsolete, uncomfortable houses in my ward will receive a unique chance to resettle to the new houses and apartments. I am happy to fulfill my election promises to support the resettling of those five-storey houses to leave those buildings as few as possible”, Oleg Soroka wrote.

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