The St. Petersburg city government chose Foster & Partners, the U.K. architectural firm headed by Norman Foster, to reconstruct New Holland Island, an abandoned czarist-era navy complex.
Foster's design was commissioned by ST Novaya Gollandiya, a subsidiary of ST Group, the real-estate development company owned by Shalva Chigirinsky, a Moscow oilman and real-estate developer. The company has promised to invest $320 million to turn the site into a cultural and commercial center.
``We aim to help St. Petersburg to exploit the extraordinary legacy of its urban structure and historic buildings and to establish an arts quarter that will reinvigorate the city and consolidate St. Petersburg's position as an international tourist destination,'' Foster said in a statement.
New Holland was built by Peter the Great in the early 18th century as a complex of warehouses for shipbuilding materials used in the adjacent Admiralty shipyards. It was extended over the next 200 years. Most of the current structures date to the end of the 18th and 19th centuries, and are state-protected landmarks.
The triangle-shaped island is surrounded by canals, and money will have to be spent to reinforce the decrepit and damp foundations of the czarist-era warehouses. According to Russia's preservation laws, the historical status of the site means the developer can't significantly alter its appearance.
The Russian navy signed over ownership to the city in late 2004. Foster's plans call for outfitting the site with a hotel, shops, private apartments, restaurants, a theater and conference halls. The crown jewel will be a covered amphitheater that will seat as many as 3,000 people.
Foster and ST Novaya Gollandiya beat two Russian competitors: NHI Group, and Stroi Holding. Construction is expected to take four years, said the project's press secretary, Svetlana Antonova. ST Novaya Gollandiya and its partners will invest 30 percent of the total amount, while the remaining 70 percent will be financed through loans.
News source: www.bloomberg.com
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