Babasyan is among residents who say they're
getting a bad deal..
Hundreds of Yerevan citizens rallied Thursday
(January 29) to protest what they call unfair
treatment by authorities administering the city's
North Avenue project. The urban renewal project
which will connect Republic Square and the Opera
House by a promenade of upscale businesses, restaurants
and apartments, has forced many residents to move.
And while the government is offering compensation
for their property, residents complain that the
amount offered is often not enough to purchase
new homes of comparable size.
Residents of Pushkin, Teryan, Abovyan and Lalayants
streets are saying they support the idea of North
Avenue and understand its value, but:
"How am I supposed to buy a house at that
amount," cries Azghui Muradyan, a Lalayants
resident. The amount in question is the $8,000
the municipality has offered for her 29 square-meter
"It will not even by a one-room home on
the outskirts of Yerevan," Muradyan claims.
According to M & M real estate agency, prices
within central Yerevan have increased by 100 to
150 percent in the past two years. A one-room
apartment in the center goes for about $25-40,000;
about $14-23,000 in the Komitas area and about
$7-13,000 in Nork Massive and other outskirts.
Residents such as Muradyan say they are being
oppressed by North Avenue officials, but also
by the courts who hear their appeals and, the
residents claim, press them into signing unfair
According to laws on amortization, the municipality
has a right to buy out residential property if
the purpose is deemed a special case meeting legal
"It still remains unclear for us if the
construction of the North Avenue can be qualified
as a special case," complains resident Murad
Avetisyan. "If yes, why do we have to pay
a 10 percent tax to the government if our houses
are being destroyed for the sake of the city."
Residents contend there should be a new law to
apply specifically in the North Avenue case, otherwise
they should be exempted from paying taxes on the
reimbursement of property.
is part of today's North Avenue . . .
The construction of the North Avenue was warmly
welcomed by Yerevan citizens, who expect the promenade
to give the city a new image and a fresh appearance.
And it is in fact an 80-year old idea that was
part of city architect Alexander Tamanyan's overall
scheme for building the capital.
But it comes at the expense of 500 houses being
demolished. Many of the houses in fact are in
bad condition and it is likely that some residents
can find more suitable dwellings but only if they
are willing to purchase smaller places outside
the center of the city.
Generally, residents are being offered $250-400
per square meter of property, which will then
be sold for $1,000 per square meter for business
or residential property along the 24-meter wide
pedestrian avenue. Rights to commercial lots have
been sold at auction, and according to Yerevan
Mayor Yervand Zakharyan only one 2,100 square
meter lot remains unsold. The mayor also says
that the city will make a profit of about $250-400
per square from sales.
Residents of the area say the city's offers for
their property are outdated. Within a few months
after construction began in 2002, real estate
prices that had been stable for years, sharply
rose. If two years ago it was possible to by a
three-room apartment for $30,000 in the city center,
the same amount today would buy only a two-room
Officials say, however, that North Avenue construction
is not the cause of the rise in real estate prices,
but that prices instead are a sign of a general
improvement in the republic's overall economic
Still, residents such as artist Sona Banoyan
feel they are giving up too much for too little.
She lives on Lalayants Street where she is being
offered $60,000 for a 400-square meter property
that includes two houses, a studio, a yard, and
a wine cellar. She says she will agree to move
for no less than $200,000.
. . and this is how it's supposed to look
"All my life my husband and I were cherishing
our house," Banoyan says. "We worked
hard to renovate it to make it as it looks now.
For the money I'm offered, can I buy a property
of the same size with all the conveniences we
Banoyan is upset at city officials, but also
accuses the media of making residents appear greedy.
"The reporters show the half destroyed building,
the garbage and say that people demand fantastic
amounts for such property. Why has no one appeared
in my house to show that it looks cozy and modern,"
Vladimir Badalyan, a Parliament Member and liaison
to the North Avenue residents, says residents
are looking for their best advantage.
"North Avenue is not a project, it has become
a reality," Badalyan says. "The residents
demand to freeze the project unless the government
will reconsider prices. But the government also
has obligations to businessman who sign the contracts
and according to them the construction should
be finished in 2007. I agree that some mistakes
were made before starting the project, but now
we do our best to satisfy the residents' need."
Meanwhile residents say that those who refuse
to take money and leave their houses risk losing
both their property and the money because the
court is on the side of the city.
Some charge, too, that there have been occasions
when residents who didn't want to move have been
evicted and physically assaulted in the process.
Officials at the North Avenue project office refused
to comment to ArmeniaNow's questions about those
accusations. Nor would officials there give any
information on the current stage of the construction.
Quite another inconvenience is faced by disabled
Pushkin Street resident Rafik Hovanisyan. His
house on the ground floor is the only chance to
go out to the street. Now the family is being
offered $10,000. Hovanisayn says he does not want
money. He wants a house from where he can go out
and get in without someone's help. First-floor
units, however, are the first priority for businesses
in the center and are considerably more expensive
than higher units and not available for the amount
Hovanisyan would be receiving.