The Palace of Noblemen rebuilt as the House for Cronies

Russian developers have offered for the first time ever the luxurious apartments equipped with car elevators. The apartments worth $3 mln are on offer in St-Petersburg’s 18-century estate which is the historical heritage site. Anastasia Khlopkova investigates who are the buyers of that club house.
18.11.2016
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To sauna by the car elevator

The club house “Kushelev-Bezborodko Estate” in St-Petersburg’s historical center was completed the last fall. The house erected behind the 1775 building’s facade comprises 29 apartments, eleven of them have already been sold.

Its size is 411,5 square meters
Its size is 411,5 square meters
 

The project has been underwritten by the Engel & Volkers broker company specializing on the elite housing. The company highlights the Kushelev Estate’s prime location in the so-called golden triangle, steps from all St-Pete’s tourist landmarks.

Note

St-Petersburg's “Golden triangle” is a district in the city's historical center bounded by Admiralty and Dvortsovaya Embankments, Admiralteisky Prospect, Gorokhovaya Street and Fontanka Embankment.

The estate has its own parking lot and wellness center with swimming pool and sauna.

Prices

The prices of the apartments ranges from $260,000 to $690,000. On the top of the price list there is a two-level loft for $2.9 mln.
 

Its first level accommodates a living room equipped with a fireplace and panoramic view, 90-sq-m patio and kitchen. The second level offers three bedrooms with private bathrooms. The apartment’s cherry on the top is a private car elevator made by the KONE firm. This is the only such offer in Russia and until now the apartment has been vacant.

Note

There are only nine buildings in the world equipped with the private car elevators: two in Singapore, three in New York, by one in Tokyo, Miami, Berlin and St-Petersburg.

The Engel & Volkers also offers “apartment-townhouse”, three lofts and three “historical” apartments. The latter preserved 8-meter-high ceilings, the Europe only oak fireplace, marble pillars and staircase, original work of Nikolai Benois, Russian 19-century architect. These apartments will go on sale in February 2017.

Finnish traces

The neo-Renessaince Kushelev estate has been completely renovated and reconstructed, this is the only house of the kind in St-Petersburg. For over 200 years it was a home of Russian noble families and it was named after one of its owners.

Oleg Usachev is said to be in the president's inner circle
Oleg Usachev is said to be in the president's inner circle

Nowadays, wealthy St-Pete’s residents move in the palace. A four-room three-level apartment-townhouse was bought in October by Konstantin Lukyanov, founder of the Delta-Invest Ltd.

The one-bedroom apartments have been purchased by businessmen Georgy Nikolaichuk and Dmitry Ozersky as well as by a chairman of the city’s soccer federation Yuri Bezborodov.

Note

Georgy Nikolaichuk is a co-owner of the Ecoproject Ltd construction firm and the Megapolice Ltd trading company. He also owns a large seafoods Virma enterprise, the Stolichnaya Trust credit company and the Fontanka-8 Ltd working in restaurant and catering business.

No question asked where those people have found money to buy such property. The question is, from what source the purchase of the luxurious apartment has been financed for Vladimir Kudryavtsev, first deputy head of the North-West division of the Emergency Ministry. His family’s entire annual income in 2016 was declared as $230,000 while the price of the apartment was $300,000.

The most well-known resident of the Kushelev Estate has been Oleh Usachev, a co-owner of the Olus Ltd, who bought two apartments the last spring. Usachev belongs to the close circle of Vladimir Putin as well as his business partners. Some of these people have been blacklisted by the US Financial Ministry since 2014. Usachev and his partners also possess assets in Finland.

According to the Finnish Yle TV channel, Oleg Usachev has been Finland resident for over ten years and works there as a director of logistic operation in the SET Petrochemicals company. The company transports fuel from Russia to Finland. Usachev also registered the OGTeam company in that country in 2015, with his wife as a co-owner.

Usachev’s annual income has been over 500,000 euros and he has not paid taxes for five years.

Perhaps, Usachev moved back to St-Petersburg after these particulars had emerged.

Present to Medvedev

The most exclusive “historical apartments” priced $2 mln to $2.3 mln belong to the second co-investor, the Dar Foundation dealing with regional non-profit projects.
The Dar has been founded by the Levit Ltd with Leonid Mikhelson as its co-owner. He is also a co-owner of the Novatech gas production company.

The Dar has also been linked to Medvedev’s wife Svetlana
The Dar has also been linked to Medvedev’s wife Svetlana

The Russiangate recently reported (see “The Elite Villages Mashroom in Russian Neverland”) that Mikhelson had participated in purchasing Milovka estate in Ivanovo region for the Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev for $500 mln. The Dar has been linked to Medvedev’s wife Svetlana. The Dar has also been connected to Medvedev's family. It has been registered under the same address as the Foundation for Social-cultural initiatives run by PM's spouse Svetlana. The both foundations have been managed by the same person Olga Travina.

The Dar received $500 mln for construction of the elite village in Ivanovo region from the Novatech shareholders. Both deals around the Kushelev estate (its purchase by the Centrum-Invest and its resale to the Dar) look peculiar. In 2009, the historical estate was put up for sale for $1.3 mln by the Russian Auction House via the so-called Dutch scheme. The building was sold to the anonymous Moscow investor for $1.2 mln. He was the only participant of the auctioning.

In 2007, the half of the Kushelev estate had already been sold to the Nevskoye Ltd for $3.15 mln (at that time exchange rate). In 2009, the Nevskoye received for that property around $16.6 mln and the rest of the money went to the state vaults.

The Russian Auction House claimed the deal had been absolutely transparent, still the names of the Moscow's buyers had been remaining unknown for a few years afterwards. The information had leaked later that could happen due to resale of the historical building from the Centrum-Invest to the Dar Foundation in 2011. The companies-owners of the apartments are affiliated to each other. Before 2008, the Centrum-Invest’s founder and CEO Filipp Polyansky was the Dar’s director. When his company had resold the palace to the Dar, Polyansky said it was necessary to attract the investments to the project.

What's next

At the crossing of Kutuzov Embankment and Gagarinskaya Street, where the Kushelev estate is located, there is one more heritage building, Kushelev-Bezborodko Palace. It has been occupied since 1994 by the European Petersburg University. The year before the estate was put up for sale, the University started experiencing problems: the fire inspection had found 52 safety violations. The district court put on hold the University work until the violations are mended. The University's director Nikolai Vakhtin suggested the problems arose because of someone had put an eye on the building: “I link that to the forces unknown who want to aggravate the political situation in the city. Someone wants to hamper the work of the University. I don't know what it is”.

The University, in the end of the day, had won the lawsuit and resumed its work. However, the threat of eviction still exists. If that happens, the elite residential compound would expand its borders by adding a few more “historical rooms”, as it had already happened to Milovka astate and Kushelev-Bezborodko estate.

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