The last 18 months have been turbulent for every nation across the world, and even Russia, the largest country in the world and one that is considered a potential superpower has had its difficulties. But now Russia and its accompanying CIS members are beginning to look towards the future and a clearer trajectory of sustainable recovery. Here, RLI zooms in on some of the key completed and developing projects across the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The Commonwealth of Independent States is a regional intergovernmental organisation of nine (originally ten) members, plus two founding non-members, post-Soviet republics in Eurasia. It covers an area of 7,864,422 square miles and has an estimated population of 239,796,010.
As for Russia, the country where the origins of the CIS countries began, is a country that spans Eastern Europe and Northern Asia, is the most populous country in Europe and its capital, Moscow, is the largest city in Europe.
According to the ‘Influence of Macroeconomic Trends on the Commercial Real Estate Investment Market in Russia, Q1 2021 Results’ report by CBRE, the Russian economy will recover to the level of 2019 no earlier than 2020. GDP growth forecaster for 2021 was in the range of 2.5-3.8 per cent and 2.6-3.8 per cent for 2022 and that there is a positive outlook heading into next year.


In terms of the retail market in Russia, Moscow of course remains the key location, and in the first three months of 2021, the retail real estate market in the Moscow region was replenished with two shopping centres – Gravitacia with a GLA of 18,500 sq m and Solis with a GLA of 11,000 sq m, highlights Colliers’ report ‘Retail Market: Russia, Moscow, Q1 2021’.
The report goes on to say that four international brands have entered the Moscow market at, including Shikkosa from Italy, Northland from Austria, The Frankie Shop from the US and Ecco, which opened its first Ecco Kids children’s clothing store in Moscow.
CBRE’s report suggests that the increase in the volume of real estate investments in Russia in Q1 2021 (71bn RUB versus 68bn in January-March 2020) shows that slowly but surely, confidence is beginning to return to not just Russia, but the other eight CIS countries.


Projects across Russia
After the launch of a new Hotel Transylvania attraction this spring, Europe’s largest indoor theme park, Dream Island in Moscow, is almost complete. The presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of the park’s launch ceremony last February signalled the cultural importance of this privately backed, $1.5 billion project. However, it traded for just 18 days before a Covid-19 enforced closure. The park reopened last July with limited capacity and now Dream Island’s operators are planning future expansions. Dream Island offers more than just a theme park. Beneath its seven glass domes, the 300,000sq m building also houses a large shopping mall, multiplex cinema, concert hall, restaurants and cafés. The split is roughly 50:50 between entertainment and retail. In addition, the wider 100ha site features an outdoor promenade with family recreation zones. A 4-star hotel, children’s yacht school, plus some more teen-friendly attractions are on the way in phase two.
One of the latest openings as part of ADG Group’s collection of 39 Neighborhood Centers, Neighborhood Centre Rassvet opened its doors in Octover and was designed to help revive public life in residential areas in Moscow. Located in the lively part of the Koptevo district, Rassvet is a destination for families with children that come nearby every day and will be pleased to discover new leisure, educational, retail and F&B experience. The architectural concept of the Neighborhood Center was created by the famous British architect Amanda Levete, the author of the reconstruction projects including second stage Victoria and Albert Museum in London and was adapted by Russian designers.
The Planeta shopping centre in Perm by developer MallTech opened its doors on 22nd April this year and has become the first high-quality shopping centre the super-regional format in the Perm region. Set on a space of 150,000sq m and a GLA of 83,105sq m over two floors, the site is home to 2,900 parking spaces, more than 200 stores and over 30 cafes and restaurants. It is located at the intersection of two major transport arteries of the city – shosse Kosmonavtov and Mira street. Convenient access to the centre is provided by the transport interchange.


Grozny Mall is a new shopping and entertainment venue being built in the city of Grozny, Russia. Owned by Grozny Mall and being developed by Russian construction company Smart Building, it will be the largest shopping mall in southern Russia. The shopping facility will include new local and international retail brands in a 132,000sq m of floorspace. With a leasable area of 59,000sq m, it will house more than 150 outlets, including three double-level clothing department stores, home appliances, sporting goods, household goods and electronics. The grocery hypermarket at the mall will occupy an area of more than 7,000sq m. The new shopping mall project will boost the tourism potential and increase investment in Grozny, the capital city of the Chechen Republic. The project is expected to generate 2,000 new jobs upon completion. The family shopping and leisure centre is expected to be launching soon as it was expected to be completed in mid-2021.
Paveletskaya Plaza is a project formed by context. Located within the historic site of the Moscow Paveletsky Railway Station, the project functions as part urban park, part retail centre and following strict municipal guidelines, Paveletskaya codifies the historic and the modern into a unified vision, with every element acting in harmony with the next. Set over a building area of 73,000sq m and a site area of 33,000sq m, the new design’s primary role looks to re-establish this lost connection between the historic structure and the plaza. Designers 5+design on behalf of client developer Mall Management Group are working to complete Paveletskaya Plaza by summer this year.
Twelve Architects are working on an upcoming retail, leisure, mall and hotel project in the city of Perm. The 152,000sq m scheme will also feature an art gallery and conference hall and will create a landmark development for the regeneration of Perm’s promenade and esplanade. It will create a destination within the city for people to meet, shop, relax and be entertained all year round. The retail and leisure mall are arranged over 5 levels: the lowest predominantly housing car parking and perimeter retail. The hotel is positioned above. Situated next to Perm’s central park esplanade, the development will connect to a new tram stop as well as bus and cycling routes. Construction has commenced during the second half of 2019 with completion due in the third quarter of 2021.


Projects across remaining CIS countries
Located on land reclaimed from the Caspian Sea, Deniz Mall is a 120,000sq m entertainment, leisure and dining destination over five floors. Since its opening in June last year it has become Azerbaijan’s premier entertainment venue after designs by Chapman Taylor and development by Pasha Construction. The ‘flame’ tower is the centrepiece of eight star-shaped wings inspired by Azerbaijan’s national emblem. Chapman Taylor designed the original building as a congress centre in 2007, and now the building has been repurposed, keeping the same design, to become Azerbaijan’s premier entertainment venue. Their redesign for the interior was planned to harmonise with the exterior design, ensuring a single homogenous concept for the centre.
The building houses a family-orientated day-out experience, including world-class entertainment venues, serving a much-needed role for the city and the surrounding region.
Another collaboration by architectural design firm Chapman Taylor and developer Pasha Construction will see the 135,000sq m, office-led Port Baku Tower 2 come to fruition. The project was conceived as a sculptural completion of the wider Port Baku development in Azerbaijan. The new mixed-use tower is an evolution of the original Port Baku Tower 1 design, completed in 2011, forming a “bookend” to the eastern aspect of Port Baku. As well as office space, the second tower will be home to retail and leisure offerings and its sculptural, curving façades and inclined upper levels will create an elegant addition to the Baku skyline. The podium to the west of the tower mirrors the tower’s angled base and provides restaurant and retail offers to generate a vibrant circuit to draw people from the popular Fashion Avenue to the west. The final completion and opening dates have not yet been finalised.


Chapman Taylor has created a well-received concept design for a major new shopping centre in Atyrau, Kazakhstan, the first of its kind in the city. Atyrau Mall will offer 30,000sq m of retail, leisure and entertainment to the city, which is rapidly expanding due to the proximity of Kazakhstan’s largest oil field in the Caspian Sea. The exciting new destination, which doesn’t have a launch date yet, will be capable of accommodating more than 350,000 people, and will become a dynamic and popular venue in which people can spend their leisure time as well as shopping. With a mix of regional and international brands, the development will consist of a circuit of bright and colourful, naturally lit retail malls punctuated by dramatic domed atrium spaces which will host F&B, entertainment and exhibition spaces as well as offering spaces in which shoppers can dwell.
Chapman Taylor is designing the phased redevelopment and extension of UNIC shopping centre in Chisinau, Moldova, including the regeneration of the adjacent public square. Phase 1A, which is currently under development, creates a new mall in the existing lower shopping level, connecting via a new escalator to the upper shopping level. The lower shopping level is also being extended, while a new car park is being developed at the front of the building. The upper shopping level will host a range of new F&B offers to encourage people to dwell longer. Phase 1B of the project will also modernise the public square in front of the centre, providing a vibrant, open space for visitors and local residents to enjoy, as well as creating a new venue for events and pop-up offers. In addition, a new extension to the lower shopping level will be created at the front of the centre.
Developer Dana Holdings’ largest and most ambitious construction scheme to date is the biggest single development project in the whole of Europe: dubbed Minsk World, the multifunctional residential complex located in Belarus is a game-changer for the country’s economy. The main features of Minsk World are the international financial centre, the exhibition centre, a sports complex, a central park and a shopping centre. Minsk World today is a construction site spanning more than 340ha! More than three million square meters of residential and commercial real estate will be built here. While parts of the scheme are now open, the overall project completion date is 2027.