Low-Rise Construction in the Kaluga Region, AiF-Kaluga
Interview with Mayor of Obninsk Alexander Avdeyev with Arguments and Facts – Kaluga, December 7, 2011
Every Family’s Dream
How to Create a Favorable Environment for Low-Rise Housing Construction
Low-rise housing construction is developing at an amazing rate in all regions. A detached home remote from the hustle and bustle of the city is every family’s dream.
We talked with Mayor of Obninsk Alexander AVDEYEV about how to turn this ‘fairy tale’ into reality.
Alternative to High-Rises
- Mr Avdeyev, today the initiative to support the development of small towns and villages through low-rise construction is very relevant for Russia. Could you please tell us about such projects in the Kaluga Region and Obninsk?
- Several integrated low-rise development projects with various purposes are under way in the region. In Tarus and Yukhnov we see low-rise suburban developments remote from industrial centers.
The second group is represented by residential developments that appear in response to growing cities and the need to provide accommodation for growing population. They are located in close proximity to centers where good jobs are available and where industrial parks are developing such as Kaluga, Obninsk and the Borovskoy district in general.
While “dacha” projects may be developed in areas remote from cities where land is available and prices are lower, suburban low-rise developments are in proximity to industrial centers where land prices are significantly higher. Finding an appropriate site for integrated development in proximity to Obninsk and Kaluga is quite challenging. However, low-rise housing should be developed around cities.
- Could you tell us more about the projects in Obninsk?
- Such projects were started in Obninsk several years ago. They are gradually becoming more popular as an alternative to high-rises in the city.
Despite the fact that some of these projects are in the Borovskoy district, residents of Obninsk are the ones who primarily buy homes in these developments, for instance, an ‘Olympic village’ in Kabitsino where homes are built with sandwich panels.
Unfortunately, such construction technology used in Kabitsino and in the Molodezhny development in Kaluga has failed to earn buyers’ loyalty. People gravitate towards traditional materials such as brick and ceramics. The idea that homes with sandwich panels are cheaper has not been proven true.
For this reason, we support construction companies that select traditional wall materials for their homes. Such homes look substantial and the cost per square meter is within a reasonable price range.
Compensations from the Budget
- How do you see the situation in Russian low-rise housing construction in general?
- In most regions the cost of laying communication lines is high. There is often not enough money for new infrastructure which slows down the construction of low-rise developments. It is great that recently we have seen companies willing to undertake integrated development projects. They have a precise business plan and an understanding that most funds need to be spent on building homes, infrastructure and communications.
The construction site is also of primary importance for low-rise developments. It is great luck if a suitable site is found close to the city that can be connected to centralized communication lines.
Such developments will be in demand. It is important that regional and municipal authorities do not impose additional expenses for construction of the social infrastructure on the developer but lend their support to developers.
- Do developers in Obninsk get such support?
- Yes, they do. Initially, for instance, we expected that Ecodolie would build almost all communications in its development with its own funds.
It took us a while but we did find a solution to connect Ecodolie Belkino to the city communication lines. It improves the quality of life in the new development as connection to city communications guarantees stability and support of the city utility services.
The city authorities also provide support with documents, consulting, administrative support, etc. We have had good experience working with Ecodolie and we would like to establish similar relations with other developers.
- What other factors hinder low-rise housing development in addition to high land prices and difficulties with selecting construction sites?
- The situation is complicated by a lack of financial instruments for purchasing such real estate such as mortgage programs, programs for supporting young families, etc. These programs would promote demand for integrated developments.
Not everyone can afford a mortgage loan because of high interest rates. Bank rates are slowly getting back to the pre-crisis level.
- Is anything done to solve this issue by the city and regional authorities?
- In the Kaluga Region, municipalities pay a part of the interest rate for certain residential programs for young families, medical and education professionals, etc. They spend over 8 million rubles out of the Obninsk budget each year. Each developer including Ecodolie has buyers who received a mortgage loan from a bank. Upon satisfying certain conditions offered by the city, they may use our offer for partial compensation of the interest rate.
- Both low-rise and high-rise real estate is developed in Obninsk. What is the price difference per square meter and how much demand is there for it?
- Apartments in economy class high-rises start at 48 thousand rubles per square meter. In business class buildings, the price per square meter starts at 55-60 thousand rubles and higher.
In the low-rise development of Ecodolie, the price is within the economy class range while the buyer acquires a new lifestyle with a green lawn and no neighbors above. The development is not far from the city. All those who prefer life in the city also have a lot of options to choose from.
In Tandem with Saving
- In the recent years, the use of energy saving technologies in construction has been widely discussed. Are such solutions used in the Kaluga Region and in Obninsk?
- Certainly. For instance, to eliminate dependency on central heating, roof boilers and quality heat exchangers are used. Regarding electricity, it is limited only to the use of energy saving bulbs.
A paradox of high-rises is that in Europe no one would open a window to cool the room while heating is on. We in fact waste heating and money through an open window. In a private home the owner calculates how much heating costs and will not open windows as it is going to affect his budget. That makes detached homes more cost effective than high-rises.
- What are the prospects of low-rise construction in the Kaluga Region?
- We create a favorable environment for low-rise construction. We support developers of low-rise housing and create jobs with decent wages so that people could afford such homes.
Industrial parks are developed in the suburbs and low-rise developments should be in proximity to such parks to make it easier for people to get to work and get home.
Recorded by Andrey Plotnikov