first commercial enterprise has opened for business
at the northern "gateway" of North Avenue
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
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.
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
But such amenities, Alexanyan says, would run
the purchase price up to as much as $1,000 per
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