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MOSCOW, November 14. /TASS/. Moscow’s central Tverskaya Street used to be the most crowded and illuminated avenue in the city, to glow neon several years ago when one had to elbow the way in it but nowadays this “hallmark of the capital” is emptying day after day.
Signs “For lease” can be seen in the windows of buildings there as boutiques of jewellery Pandora, of women’s luxury underwear Dikaya Orkhideya (Wild Orchid), and of expensive watches Omega have been closing one after another along with other brand shops.
Fashionable offices of Masterbank have remained vacant after the Central Bank revoked the bank license. Goodman, and Filimonova and Yankel restaurants are closed for visitors, too.
So Tverskaya Street has seen 19 shops and restaurants abandon their premises this past year and the sites are still vacant.
Fewer and fewer tourists and residents of Moscow are eager to walk up and down the historic street and even professional beggars abandoned it, though law enforcers had failed to cope with this task before.
Retailers, restaurateurs and banks used to believe that it was prestigious to have the flagship office in the street and just a couple of years ago it was good luck to find a vacant one as having a shop in Tverskaya still remains an argument in talks with suppliers.
Now tenants are fleeing the street en masse, referring to high rents or leases that are skyrocketing due to the rouble's decline, low incomes and economic instability along with revocation of licenses from banks and a ban on smoking in cafes and restaurants, as well as absence of parking zones.
In the early summer, one square metre of an annual lease cost nearly $6,500, going down to the current $3,500, the bottom line the owners do not want to go below.
No new customers are at hand to fill the gaps - main players are gone and minor ones are unable to pay the demanded money, in addition in dollars.
The owners of glamor restaurants have been serving fewer and fewer customers. Banks are emptying as a result of the Central Bank’s policy of cleansing the financial sector. In 2013, 30 banks were deprived of licences while at least 70 have lost them since the beginning of 2014.
A painful blow was delivered to parking banned in Tverskaya Street at the end of 2010, with traffic slimming by 25% afterwards. Distances are lengthy on the street from one metro station to another, while customers and shoppers think only a five-minute-long walk to be comfortable.
A slump on Moscow’s office market has added to the negative situation, given a decreasing demand from foreign companies amid the unstable geopolitical and economic situation.
Besides, elite real estate market in the capital has shrunk because of the outflow of foreigners who fancied living in this prestigious street.
St. Petersburg faces a similar tendency. Thus, the Fotanka.ru website has counted at least 20 vacant premises offered for rent or purchase. Both economic instability and the declining rouble have compelled clothing shops to shut their doors.
“People are mostly concerned about what they will eat rather than about what they will wear,” the site quotes London Real Estate manager Igor Gorsky as saying.
The Moscow City Government was swift in its response to the situation promising to work out a concept of Tverskaya’s development. The task is really ambitious and it is to bring more visitors to Moscow’s main street than New York’s Fifth Avenue or London’s Oxford Street typically see.
“We can stimulate by economic means the development of the city’s priority sectors so that the central street would be replenished with restaurants and shops which would become centres of attraction to Moscow residents and tourists,” the RBC daily said citing head of trade and services Alexey Nemeryuk.
Moscow authorities plan to stimulate the growth of needed formats by introducing differentiated land rent fees, for instance.
The Actualnye Novosti (Actual News) website says citing the head of the Colliers International street retailer, Yekaterina Podlesnykh, who is quite doubtful about it mentioning that market participants are pressured on all the sides.
Sanctions, shortage of certain goods, and foreign clients’ outflow have a negative impact on lease providers.
“The authorities themselves complicate the situation in Moscow’s central streets by new demands to shopping signs and by implementing an anti-tobacco law and other not very convenient novelties, although that situation has never been simple before,” she said.
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