September 22, 2021

Ukraine Breaking News

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Demolition or renovation for Khrushchevky of Kiev? What to do with Soviet-era apartments?

demolishing khrushchevkas in kyiv

Legal basis of this project

The conditions for obtaining a new apartment from displaced owners are determined by Article 12 of the Law of Ukraine, “On the complete reconstruction of the obsolete housing stock” which clearly states that the resettlement of tenants will be subject to the prior provision of another apartment equal in size and number of rooms and in the same general location. In addition, the law provides a coefficient of 1.5 for the reimbursement of the living area, meaning that an owner with a 50m2 apartment should be reimbursed with a 75m2 apartment.

Obstacles to the implementation of the project

The main problem is that the aforementioned law was adopted in 2006 and stipulates that 100% of the tenants in each building must agree with the plan. Real estate market analyst, Viktoriya Bereshchak, says it will be difficult to convince 100% of apartment owners in Khrushchev that this idea is feasible and will not leave them without any property. The government must carry out a large-scale information campaign involving not only government representatives but also independent development and real estate experts who will carry out the verification of the houses and explain the consequences of living in the obsolete building in modern and simple language. It is also necessary to ensure that the resettlement plan is very safe for the current owners, with a transparent bidding process for investors who are expected to participate in the project.

There are efforts underway to do this reduce the percentage of owners which requires agreement from 100% to 75%. However, as forced resettlement is fraught with moral and legal issues, this reduced percentage could only be used in cases where authorities declare a building to be condemned on the basis of safety and on this basis to proceed with demolition and resettlement without 100 % agreement. But even this is not that simple, as to qualify for conviction the physical degradation of the building must be 81-100%.

Undoubtedly, if the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine leave the old rule of the 100% agreement on residents and until the single mechanism is developed, the city council will not remove administrative obstacles and, most importantly, will not create the tool for the protection of owners, the comprehensive reconstruction program of the old housing stock will be implemented very slowly or will stop altogether.

However, there are also many outdated homes in Europe. So what can we benefit from the European experience?

For example, Poland has focused its efforts on improving such buildings by adding better insulation and making drab buildings look more aesthetically pleasing, but in the UK many paneled apartment buildings have simply been demolished. Germany had the most realistic position in the reconstruction of the five-story buildings. In 1990, Germany launched a state restructuring program to make improvements to paneled residential homes. As part of this program, the Khrushchevkas were renovated and modernized. Where possible, elevators were installed and the buildings were clad with modern panels of different colors, redesigned, refurbished and the foundations reinforced, which involved a radical transformation. The restructuring program lasted about 20 years and took place in several phases. They even used construction waste from demolished buildings to build roads, while they also used this opportunity to improve infrastructure networks and better organize public spaces. In East Germany, the five-story Khrushchevkas were transformed into 3-4 storey buildings, with large terraces and more attractive architecture.

It would be unfair not to mention the fact that some developers in Ukraine have already managed to start with pilot projects, having won the support of the residents of the houses. However, not everything works so well as activists, city authorities and bureaucracy slow down the process from time to time.

So it is up to everyone to decide whether or not to believe in the successful development of this project, but what is clear is that there is no time to postpone the decision on Khrushchev. Over the next few years we will see what form the redevelopment will take and, eventually, perhaps Kiev will set an example for other cities and towns to follow.