Though, many don’t believe his promise
Kakha Kaladze, a mayoral candidate from the ruling ‘Georgian Dream’ party, pledges to the electorate to replace the so-called ‘Khrushchovkas’ with the modern apartment houses.
As the mayoral candidate pointed out in a video, published on his Facebook page, it would be a stage-by-stage project and throughout its implementation the residents of Khrushchovka buildings would be provided either with other apartments or be offered financial compensations:
“In Tbilisi, the so-called ‘Khroschovka’ era ended long time ago. People can’t live in the buildings with the lifespan that expired years ago-they are amortized and the building add-ons make them even more appalling. One of the major trends of our activity will be to get rid of that Soviet ideology and replace those buildings with the modern, stronger and more comfortable housing.”
Tbilisi Mayor’s Office and the mayoral candidates have been talking about replacement of ‘Khrushchovka’ buildings with the new apartment houses for many years already. There are about 700 Khrushchovka buildings in Tbilisi. All of them are amortizes and their lifespan expired long time ago. Thus, this is a rather beneficial issue for an election campaign.
Promises to dismantle ‘Khrushchovka’ buildings and form a new housing stock were issued back in the period of Gigi Ugulava’s term in office.
David Narmania, an incumbent Mayor of Tbilisi, was also making pledges to gradually pull down ‘Khrushchovkas’ and build new apartment houses. He promised to gradually replace 50 ‘Khrushchovka’ houses with the new ones. However, his pledges remained unfulfilled.
“As far as the ‘Khrushchovka’ project is concerned, all ‘Khrushchovkas’ should be replaced, since they’ve already exhausted themselves. Several dozens of ‘Khrushchovkas’ will be replaced during my term in the mayor’s office. It’s a great problem. So, at the first stage we are going to work out a plan for the development of ‘Khrushchovkas’, dangerous buildings and the housing, in general. We will announce a call for tender and will attract interested individuals,” David Narmania, a candidate for Tbilisi Mayor’s post, stated during the debates with his competitors, back in July 2014.
In March 2014, Irakli Shikhiashvili, the Chairman of Tbilisi Sakrebulo (City Council) concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Arab Emirates’ International Commercial and Investment Holding, under which the Arab company was expected to construct new apartment houses to replace ‘Khrushchovka’ buildings. As Shikhashvili stated then, the international company was ready to invest US$600million. The Arab company officials launched an active promo campaign in mass media. They participated in various TV programs, sharing their plans to replace five-storey ‘Khrushchovkas’ with 15-storey apartment houses with modern infrastructure. However, as it turned out later, no one in the Georgian government was aware of the project. After signing the Memorandum, nothing has been actually done as part of the project.
The Georgian Dream government members sharply criticized Shikhiashvili’s project, claiming it was unrealistic. For example, Justice Minister, Tea Tsulukiani , stated that it was inappropriate to implement such project at that stage, since Georgian didn’t have financial resources.
Tbilisi mayoral candidate Kakha Kaladze’s statement has been actively discussed on social media. The majority of Tbilisi residents believe that it’s yet another campaign populism, the authorities are creating futile expectations and that the country actually doesn’t have sufficient resources to update the housing stock.
According to the Facebook users, Kaladze has stolen this idea from the Moscow Mayor and President Putin (dismantling of ‘Khrushchovka’ buildings has been recently underway in Moscow and it turned out to be a very painful process-JAMnews).
Many people believe that the problem lies in the ongoing chaotic constructions that spoil the capital’s image, rather than in ‘Khrushchovka’ buildings.
Some people pointed to the ‘economic benefits, since expectation of construction of the new apartment houses could trigger a hike in prices on ‘Khrushhchova’ buildings.
- The local government elections in Georgia are scheduled for the last week of October. Other candidates competing for the Mayor’s post are: Zaal Udumashvili, a candidate nominated by the United National Movement; Elene Khoshtaria, an individual leader of the European Georgia and Aleko Elisashvili, an independent candidate.
- ‘Khrushchovka’ is an unofficial name of the Soviet, concrete-paneled or brick three- to five-storied, standard-design, apartment building. It’s usually 1 or 2-bedroom apartment, with a wall width-35cm; ceiling height -2,48 (on the ground and last floors-less than 20cm.). Khrushchovka was designed by Vitaly Lagutenko, a Russian engineer. The project was implemented on the initiative of Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The first ‘Khrushchevka’ was built in Kiev, in 1958; the last one – in Minsk, in 1970. The construction lasted for 12 years. Nearly 54% of the Soviet Union population, including in Georgia, were provided with housting. Their lifespan was estimated at 50 years. Those low-ceiling houses, that are outdated and shaky now, once played an important role in urbanization of the big cities. Each person was eligible for 8 sq.m. area. The architects expected that one and the same room would serve as a dining room and a study in the daytime, and as a bedroom – at night.
- Due to ‘Khrushchovkas’, 127 million people in the Soviet Union were provided with individual housing. Those poorly built houses also triggered a wide-scale urbanization process. In 1961, for the first time, the urban population rate in the Soviet Union exceeded that of the rural population.