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Moscow’s oldest hotel Metropol to be auctioned off

August 30, 2012, 1:50 UTC+3

Moscow’s oldest hotel – the Metropol Hotel – will be auctioned off on Thursday

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MOSCOW, August 30 (Itar-Tass) —— Moscow’s oldest hotel – the Metropol Hotel – will be auctioned off on Thursday.

Moscow’s department of property said the architectural monument of Russian Art Nouveau style, which is situated not far from the Kremlin, arouses interest from Russian and foreign investors. The city authorities will start the auction with the price of 8.7 billion roubles. The hotel’s price was fixed by an independent appraiser based on its profitability. Experts forecast the final price would be at least 30 percent higher. The auction lot includes the very six-storey building of about 40,000 square metres and the land it occupies – slightly over one hectare in the very heart of Moscow. The competition will feature international leading chains, funds and banks.

As the legendary hotel is privatised, it will retain its status. A future owner will be responsible for keeping the historic heritage. The owner will receive the building and interiors, but all the antique furniture and pictures /about 700 objects/ will remain the state’s property. Some parts of the interior, panels and bas-reliefs may be restored only.

The hotel was reconstructed in 1991. Its facades, interiors and objects inside the building were restored according to old sketches and plans. After modernisation, Metropol will rank for “Five Stars.”

Metropol was built in 1899-1907 in Art Nouveau style. It is notable as the largest extant Moscow hotel built before the Russian Revolution of 1917, and for the unique collaboration of architects William Walcot, Lev Kekushev, Vladimir Shukhov and artists Mikhail Vrubel, Alexander Golovin, Nikolai Andreyev. In 1901, the topped-out shell burnt down and had to be rebuilt from scratch in reinforced concrete. Kekushev and Walcot hired a constellation of first-rate artists, notably Mikhail Vrubel for Princess of Dreams mosaic panel, Alexander Golovin for smaller ceramic panels and sculptor Nikolay Andreyev for plaster friezes. The hotel was completed in 1907. However, it is nowhere near Walcot's original design. In 1898, Savva Mamontov and Petersburg Insurance consolidated a large lot of land around the former Chelyshev Hotel. Mamontov, manager and sponsor of Private Opera, intended to redevelop the area into a large cultural centre built around an opera hall. In 1898, professional jury of an open contest awarded the job to Lev Kekushev, however, Mamontov intervened and assigned it to English architect William Walcot, who proposed a refined Art Nouveau draft codenamed A Lady's Head (implying the female head ornament repeating in keystones over arched windows). Nowadays, Metropol has 365 rooms, and each is different in shape or decoration. It is located in the city centre opposite the Bolshoi Theatre and within a three minutes’ walk from Red Square and the Kremlin.

Moscow has certain experience in selling its assets to private owners. Several years earlier, Hotel Ukraine was sold for 250 million dollars, and in December of past year – the National Hotel was sold for 4.7 billion roubles. Now, the two hotels are ranked Five Stars.

Moscow’s government plans to keep as municipal property only the assets, which are necessary for state needs and for providing state functions. A hotel is an object for private businesses, which the city is not involved in. The selling of Metropol is the first step in selling secondary assets of the hotel business. Later, the government will sell the Gostiny Dvor and airport Vnukovo. An objective of privatisation is to bring revenues to the city budget and to gain new effective and responsible owners.

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