Soviet-era buildings that grace the Tbilisi skyline will soon be a thing of the past.
Tbilisi City Council announced an upcoming project to replace old residential buildings, constructed during the Soviet period, with more modern ones.
Head of the City Council, Irakli Shikhiashvvili, said Tbilisi municipality had already signed the deal with United Arab Emirates’ company International Trade and Investment Holding, which planned to invest $600 million USD to renovate and modernize the buildings.
Speaking to Georgian media, the founder of the holding Salim Umaid Saif confirmed the deal and said his company planned to rebuild up to 800 houses.
The main aim of the project was to replace the "khrushchyovkas” or three- to five-storied apartment buildings. This style of building was extensively built during the rule of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in the early 1960’s, thus gained their name after him.
The quickly built, thin-walled and cramped "khrushchyovkas” were planned as a temporary solution to the problem of over-population in large Soviet towns. Their projected lifespan varied from 25 to 50 years however most of the buildings were never replaced. Some of the "khrushchyovkas” in Tbilisi are more than 50 years old and have exceeded the maximum limit for this type of building.
Head of Tbilisi City Council’s commission on urban planning, Niko Khachirashvili, said this was "one of the biggest problems” for Tbilisi infrastructure.
"We have many buildings in an extremely dangerous state. We need gigantic sums of money to solve this problem but this is vital for the city,” he said.
According to Khachitashvili, Tbilisi municipality would prepare a plan on how to temporarily re-settle current dwellers of "khrushchyovkas” and how to distribute space in the rebuilt houses after the project is completed.
Georgia's Justice Minister, Tea Tsulukiani also commented on the issue. The Minister was skeptical of the project and said one of the hardest challenges for the "ambitious project" would be to provide all residents of "khrushchyovkas” with new apartments.
Tbilisi Government representatives said the Isani-Samgori district of Tbilisi will be the first to participate in the replacement project.