Sunday, 17 November

Another Piece of Old Yerevan Faces Uncertain Future

There’s a placard on the outside wall of the building at 4 Pushkin Street that reads, “Maintained by the government.”

Emma Kilikyan, a resident, says that the sign is merely for show and that the government is doing nothing to preserve the building built in the late 19th and early 20th century.

“They couldn’t give a hoot about this place,” said Kilikyan, who lives in the building along with her husband. The structure is included in the list of historical-cultural landmarks.

The resident says that an episode of the film Garegin Nzhdeh was filmed in the courtyard out back.

Kilikyan says that the building once belonged to the wealthy Tairov family and that the Kilikyans purchased in the late 1920s. She's been living there ever since and was married 55 years ago.

She says that the businessman Samvel Mayrapetyan is now pressuring them to sell.

The government has allocated the building at 2 Pushkin Street (the former fire engine station facing Sakharov Square) and adjacent structures to Mayrapetyan under an eminent domain order.

According to a 2008 government decision, Mayrapetyan’s “Local Developers” company in a project designed to rid Yerevan of dilapidated structures that were not seismically sound. The plan at the time was for the site to be demolished and a new multi-purpose structure to be built.

The government’s decision notes that the area contains landmark buildings which are in poor condition.

In its decision, the government also stated that the new owner of the site would be allowed to “restore and rebuild” the existing structures in a manner that would synthesize the old Yerevan architectural style with buildings now being erected.

As to what this means in practical terms is anyone’s guess. Even Mayrapetyan, the new owner, confesses that he hasn’t yet decided what to build at the site.

He knows that there are two landmark buildings at the site and claims that it is possible to maintain their former appearance, but that he will have to consult with architectural specialists. Mayrapetyan says that the Ministry of Culture will also have a say in the matter as to what can and cannot be changed.

Kilikyan says that Mayrapetyan has offered the family $400,000 for their 1,000 square meter property but have rejected the sum as inadequate.

She claims the market value is more like $1 million.

Most of the residents at 4 Pushkin have already accepted Mayrapetyan’s money and have vacated the premises.

One such resident, who didn’t wish to be named, said he accepted $70,000 for a 70 square meter apartment; an amount regarded as way below market for an apartment in the heart of Yerevan.

Mayrapetyan says he doesn’t know what course of action he will take regarding those who hold out for more money.

“The historical buildings require specific decisions and special attention,” said Mayrapetyan.

For the present, the status of 2 Pushkin remains in limbo.

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