An Orthodox Vatican will be built in Russia

The Russian Orthodox Church asks Putin to support the concept of turning the city into the capital of Orthodoxy.
The Strelka Consulting Bureau, by order of the state-owned company Dom.RF, has prepared a development strategy for Sergiev Posad, a Moscow-based city with a population of about 100,000, where one of the main Orthodox shrines is located - the Trinity-Sergius Lavra. Vedomosti was able to familiarize itself with the document, which is a 300-page A3 format book, which describes large-scale plans for the transformation of Sergiev Posad - from transport infrastructure to construction of medical centers and new museums. City authorities estimate the cost of the project at 120–140 billion rubles. For comparison: the entire program of improvement of Russian cities in two years from the federal budget was spent about 50 billion rubles.

300 million rubles. for strategy

“It’s wrong to argue about the prospects of development of Sergiev Posad and not to find out the opinion of the most holy patriarch” - this is how the State Duma deputy Sergey Pakhomov (in the past - the mayor of Sergiev Posad) signed the photo from the meeting with Patriarch Kirill. It was in 2017, at the meeting was attended by another native of Sergiev Posad - Mikhail Men (at that time headed by the Ministry of Construction of Russia). “The patriarch supported the idea of ​​recreating and developing the historical part of Sergiyev Posad as a spiritual, cultural and tourist center,” Pakhomov now recalls.

In December 2017, news appeared on the site of the Ministry of Construction that the Ministry, together with the Agency for Housing Mortgage Lending (AHML; now - Dom.RF) and Strelka Design Bureau, will develop a concept for the development of Sergiev Posad. AHML ordered Strelka to develop documents on the development of the city, including the Spatial Development Strategy until 2025.

In April 2018, at the meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, Pakhomov presented a concept for the development of the city. After that, the ROC appealed to President Vladimir Putin with a request to consider and support the concept of turning the city into the capital of Orthodoxy, a government source said and confirmed by an interlocutor close to the ROC. As a result, in January 2019, a working group on the development of Sergiev Posad was set up by order of the government. Now this group is forming a list of facilities that require “budget financing for repair, rehabilitation, construction and installation work,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Economic Development said.

For the strategy and a number of other documents, Dom.RF paid 300 million rubles to Strelka, a source close to one of the parties told Vedomosti (there was no official comment on this figure between Dom.RF and Strelka). However, this document has never appeared in public access.

What will change in Sergiev Posad

The project developed by Strelka implies an almost complete restructuring of the city center and its division into two parts: the spiritual and the administrative. The centers of world religions today function according to an open model, the authors of the concept write, without opposing the spiritual center and the secular part of the city. Examples include the Vatican, Jerusalem and Mecca.

“The concept is a kind of textbook for an ideal city in terms of improvement, the work of all engineering communications, road infrastructure,” says Mayor Sergiyev Posad Mikhail Tokarev. “It’s about how to unite the spiritual center, tourism and the interests of local residents in one place.” The transformation, he said, will affect the city center with an area of ​​about 400 hectares (the entire city covers about 1,200 hectares).

“Today, the environment around the Trinity-Sergius Lavra is burdened with the legacy of the Soviet period, which is decaying and becoming unsuitable. All this needs to be either restored or changed, ”explains Archpriest Leonid Kalinin, head of the church council for art, architecture and restoration.

The cultural-representative center will appear on the avenue of the Red Army around the monastery. It will include a museum of Orthodox art, a youth Orthodox cultural center, a patriarchal theological library, a congress center, a hotel, a high church court, a corps of synodal institutions, a missionary corps, a patriarchal reception house, representative offices of autocephalous churches, and an Orthodox media center. “It is necessary to gradually unload the monastery, redirect tourists to new museums, to a 3D cinema, to take them so that they spend less time directly in the monastery, because it is very difficult for monks to live in such a noisy place,” says Archpriest Leonid. In 2018, Sergiev Posad was visited by about 2 million tourists. The priest believes that after the rupture of relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Patriarchate of Constantinople (in January, he provided the autocephaly of the new Orthodox Church in Ukraine), Russia becomes "the main outpost of Orthodoxy in the world."

To accommodate new facilities, all state institutions will be transferred to the administrative and business center (along Simonenkova Street, in the end of the city opposite to the laurels). It is planned to accommodate 23 state and municipal institutions: the administration, the BTI, the social security department, the court, the investigative department, the prosecutor's office, the bailiff department, the pension fund, the UFSB, the fire and rescue unit, the Federal Tax Service inspectorate, the union of cultural workers, the health department, the military commissariat and MIA.
It is proposed to transform residential areas - to build 11 district and 20 local centers (the total area of ​​residential construction will be about 800,000 sq. M.). The regional center should combine a supermarket, a cinema, a sports complex, a diagnostic office and a center of public services, and a local center - a school, a kindergarten, a pharmacy, a shop, a public transport stop and a sports ground.
“Sergiev Posad is a city of one street, 36,000 vehicles pass through the center of the city every day,” the strategy says. To remove the transportation problem, it is proposed to build a New East Detour (at the end of 2018, a Western bypass was built around the city), to build a transport hub that will unite the railway station and bus station, and also to build new and modernize old helicopter platforms (five in total). And on the basis of the airfield "Vortex" will be created the airport of the same name. This will provide a logistics infrastructure for events of all-Russian and international level, taking place in Sergiev Posad, the strategy says. The maximum airport capacity will be 1 million people per year. “Regular flights from such an airport are out of the question. Private aviation and business jets will be able to fly from it, ”says Oleg Panteleev, head of Aviaport agency analytical services.

The concept is fully consistent with the city’s general plan adopted in 2017, so no changes are required in it, Tokarev said.

How much is it

Strelka did not estimate the cost of work. Tokarev believes that the implementation of the whole concept could cost 120–140 billion rubles. According to him, approximately 90% are planned to be financed from the federal budget, the rest - money from the Moscow region. Colliers experts, at the request of Vedomosti, calculated that investments in housing, schools, cultural and educational facilities can cost around 85–100 billion rubles. (excluding transport and engineering infrastructure).

Now the Moscow Region Government has been given recommendations for finalizing the list of objects, a representative of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation reported. The final decision, including the amount of funding, will be made by the federal government. The working group at the Ministry of Economic Development should form a list of specific measures for this project, until then decisions on the size and sources of funding can not be made, said the government official.

“The entire consolidated budget of the Moscow Region is 672 billion rubles,” says Natalia Zubarevich, a professor at Moscow State University. “I think they are hoping for the piety of high leaders.” This is a rational grain. But the Moscow Region has a lot of other unresolved issues: roads, garbage problem, shortage of kindergartens and schools. ”

From the point of view of tourist attractiveness, Sergiev Posad is special, so it makes sense to divide the tourist, spiritual and secular, administrative centers, says Nadezhda Kosareva, president of the Institute for the City's Economy. “This idea itself is not bad and not good, it all depends on the elaboration and implementation. But we need to make a balanced decision on administrative buildings - whether they really need to be demolished and built new ones, ”she believes.

“This project can be an example of an iconic project for the development of a whole city, the project can be implemented in the long term, with the involvement of professional developers and total support from the city and the state,” said Olga Zemtsova, director of strategic consulting at CBRE. An important condition for success, in her opinion, will be the development of transport infrastructure, such as the creation of high-speed electric trains to Moscow, to increase the comfort and attractiveness of the city for current residents and new residents.

The press services of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Strelka Design Office did not respond to the Vedomosti request. A representative of the Moscow Region government declined to comment.