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What awaits St. Petersburg’s abandoned buildings



Anton Tsouman, reporter: “Obvodnyi Canal, 116-A building 2. The recently declared object of cultural heritage. A wooden building of the late 19th century, built for railroad workers. For the past several years it has been almost entirely abandoned. Abandoned is the key word here. If you try to make even an approximate estimation of such places in St. Petersburg, you will find that there are dozens of those”

Central city, intersection of Voznesenskiy and Rimskiy-Korsakov prospect. Tschelishev’s building. Three-storied mansion dating back to the 18th century – rebuilt to be a profit house by architect Poirot. Now, the numerous labyrinths of its corridors only have scattered pieces of today’s lifestyle mixed with the remnants of the luxurious past.

Anton Tsouman, reporter: “Back then there used to be either the dance hall or a spacious guest room here. Now it only has mold, pieces of wooden floors and large windows, boarded over back in the Soviet days. And, according to experts, this is not as bad as it often gets.”

That’s why three years ago residents were re-located from this hazardous building. Now there’s a search for an investor – who could bring order to this 7-thousand-square-meter property, while not harming its wooden ovens. Those receive special attention here. According to Property Fund’s press-secretary Valeria Gerus, investors are interested – but no one has made a move yet.

Now the building is prepared for another auction. Starting price is 270 million rubles. The price of an elite three-bedroom apartment in central Moscow.

The Property Fund’s auction hall. A piece of land at Sestroretsk with a vacated wooden building has just been sold. Such auctions are held here several times a week. But even having such seemingly effective mechanism is not enough. And crumbling cultural objects can now be rented out. Literally, for a ruble. And one of the first ones to be rented out is Tsarskiy train station in Pushkino.

The main condition is restoration of the historic object. A hundred years ago, trains carrying members of the Emperor’s family and foreign dignitaries arrived here. After the revolution it was reshaped into a factory dormitory, after that – into agrarian institute’s warehouses. Historian Vyacheslav Tarasov – who worked there in the 1990s – recalls the enthusiasm about giving the second lease of life to the station.

All such projects were shelved due to red-tape barriers. Since then, the train station has decayed and even had several fires. Now it has been brought to a relative order and prepared for an auction – due to take place this year.

Konyushennoe establishment. Several years ago investors’ plans to re-model it for residential needs were discussed by the whole city – which entailed re-shaping the historic blueprints. Now the city has officially scrapped these plans. But, according to experts, the long search for a compromise between preservation and re-modelling of historic buildings is a huge risk, from a business point of view.

But finding a “golden mean” is possible. Nikolskiye rows in Kolomna. This is how badly those looked just 7 years ago. There were plans to build several more floors and put two business centers in the backyard. Debate raged for all these years. And now, after the reconstruction, it looks like it used to look on photos from early 20th century. Even the old pavement in the backyard has been preserved.

All this is just a small part of such problem spots in St. Petersburg. Zmigorosky’s dacha in Sestroretsk is still waiting for salvation. Turchaninova’s mansion at Vasilievsky Island is waiting for the reconstruction plans to be formalized. Former card factory at Obukhovsky is slowly falling apart. There are many ways to breathe a new life into forgotten, conserved, abandoned buildings. The main thing is to save those in time.