- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 April 18, 2003 

Old Erivan, New Yerevan: "Gateway" of North Avenue enterprise opens for business

The first business on North Avenue uses antique cars for  picking up guests.The first commercial enterprise has opened for business at the northern "gateway" of North Avenue in Yerevan.

Old Erivan restaurant held its grand opening a few weeks ago in the five-story building that is the anchor of the urban renewal project.

North Avenue will eventually be a pedestrian promenade linking Republic Square with the Opera House, realizing the vision of architect Alexander Tamanian when he drew up plans for the city 80 years ago.

The restaurant complex currently is opened on three levels of the Tumanyan Street front. The different eating halls are named for different periods of Yerevan history: "Erebuni-Yerevan", "Old Erivan" and "New Yerevan" are open, seating a total of about 300 diners. The top section, "Yerevan Lights" is expected to open in about a month.

Director of the complex, Manvel Ter-Arakelyan, is optimistic his new site (the original restaurant was located on property that had to be demolished to make way for the new avenue) will become favored by locals and tourists.

"One of our first visitors was President Kocharyan," Ter-Arakelyan says. "And in my opinion it is the best indication of restaurant quality and service."

Ter-Arakelyan refused to say how much he invested into construction of the complex.

The North Avenue project is a municipal initiative, but is financed through private investment. It is known that one significant investor is a Russian Armenian who bought the prime location that is now the restaurant.

Business interests have paid from $350 to $600 per square meter for developing store-front property. More than half of the property - stretching from Arami to Tumanyan streets has been sold.

Construction of North Avenue, initiated by the City Council and headed by Yerevan chief architect Narek Sargsyan, started at the end of 2001. The avenue which will finally cover about 50,000 square meters is not expected to be completed until 2010.

Ashot Alexanyan, chief engineer and architect of the project, says the work is generally going well and that most problems have to do with investors.

The multi-tiered restaurant seats about 300."The Government can not manage such a huge investment to build the avenue and then sell it," Alexanyan says. "We face different problems maybe because we still are not used to dealing with investors. Some of them want to make a design in one manner; others may wish to construct a 10-story building. But we try always to find a compromising solution."

One problem is in constructing a single underground system for water, sewerage, ventilation and heating. Investors, Alexanyan says, expect the Government to finance such services as well provide communication systems.

But such amenities, Alexanyan says, would run the purchase price up to as much as $1,000 per square meter.

The internal decoration of the building will be up to the investors, he says. But the design of the building should correspond to the general plan, including a limit of six stories on any North Avenue business. Exterior designs must also conform to the color requirements of white, rose, and apricot colored tuff and bright granite.

Once completed, North Avenue will be 27-meters wide by 450 meters with restaurants, shops, apartments and offices on each side.

Eight streets will intersect with North Avenue, but motorized traffic will cross only at Pushkin, connecting to Abovian.

A two-storied underground parking garage will accommodate 800 cars.

"North Avenue will harmoniously unite Yerevan architecture," Alexanyan says. "It will combine the modern and traditional element of architecture and will add a fresh image to Yerevan center."


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  Photo of the week
  Spring Rites
Click on the photo above to enlarge

Spring Rites

April 13 was "Tsaghkazard", known in other places as Palm Sunday, the week before Easter, marking the day Jesus entered Jerusalem. Here, part of the commemoration includes making wreaths from branches which are worn by young people and then placed in homes. The day is also the seventh Sunday of the Great Fast, as observed among the Armenian Apostolic Church.



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