The Ukrainian Montmartre – Andriyivskyy Descent is going through not the best times: the sidewalks are occupied by sellers of Soviet rubbish and poor-quality embroidered shirts, and historic buildings in the doldrums, exist in “not yet hazardous, but already dangerous” state. Between them, there are empty lands, which for two decades can’t be managed due to misunderstandings between activists, officials, and businessmen. How Andriyivskyy “stuck” between development and decay – in the text by Opinion.
Andriyivskyy Descent starts from the same name temple. On the way down there are old houses of Kyiv merchants and businessmen. On the sidewalks, there are endless tables of vendors who sell Soviet gas masks, hats, and next door there are Ukrainian embroidered shirts, necklaces, and T-shirts with patriotic prints. Descent is a landmark of local and national significance (along with Castle Hill in Lviv). The entire street as an object of world heritage is protected by UNESCO. And further, behind the touristic scenery, you can see empty gardens – construction sites, which for decades haven’t been able to work properly. Although attempts have been made and they continue to this day.
“We are trying to put the street in order since 2010 when at Andriyivskyy there were not only architectural sites, but wooden huts with plywood mansard roofs and ravines, where several-meter layers of household waste and sewage sludge were swarming with rats. As I received the architectural and planning task, for five years, I was trying to attract investments for the project of a modern hotel building that would fit into the architectural space of Andriyivskyy. And when the money was found when all the documents and permissions were approved, and when we almost completed the landslide mitigation, problems had started. According to the plan, we had to complete the construction in March next year; however, the attacks of the unknown on the site and a constant change in the mood of officials only delay the process. As if they need wasteland, not an improvement,” said the CEO of the construction company Markon Valerii Pavlyuk.
Since 2015, the construction site has been blocked several times: they were trying to break the fence and threw explosive packages at the building. Sometimes, the Andriyivskyy Descent resembled the place of hostilities, not the main historical street of the city. This way, the activists tried to show that without their permission, the process won’t start. After a long-lasting interference of Kyiv City State Administration (KCSA) in 2018, they decided to put pressure on the developer.
“This project should be considered by the Town Planning Board. We will invite experts, representatives of the civil society, everything will be open. Only then we will decide on the prospects for this building. Therefore, I demand to stop the construction. Without experts’ conclusions that this project meets all the necessary norms and aesthetic appearance of the ancient Podil, without compromise with the public – there will be no construction works there,” said Mayor Klitschko back then.
After that, along with the activists, municipal workers from the Communal enterprise Blahoustrii came to the site. They cut the frame of the fence with a gas cutter, and the metal sheets were removed by the manipulator. The next month, police officers arrived at the construction site at 4 o’clock in the morning and sent all workers to the district police department “for document verification”. During that time, the municipal workers dismantled the construction crane and took it away in the unknown direction. It was virtually impossible to finish the construction. In the courts, entrepreneurs have collected folders of positive decisions, but they can’t work until young people block the work of the builders.
“The District Administrative Court of Kyiv abolished the decision of the Department of Urban Improvement and Environmental Protection of KCSA, which blocked the construction of an 8-story hotel in the historic center of Kyiv. By decision dated on October 29, 2018, No. 826/17303/18, the court unblocked the construction of the hotel at Andriyivskyy Descent, 14-16 (maximum construction height cannot exceed 12 m here). In addition, the court forbade to interfere with the work of the construction crane,” the decision of the District Administrative Court of Kyiv reads.
A similar story happened with the construction of the Theater on Podil. The building had also been staying unfinished for 5 years, activists were against it. However, as a result, the authors of the project managed to complete the construction and prove that new buildings may appear on the Andriyivskyy Descent, and they won’t interfere with the historical status of the area.
“UNESCO’s recommendation states that in order to emphasize the historical identity of the building, it is impossible to build a new one in an old fashion way. Everything that is newly built should be fundamentally different, so as not to blur the historical set of the city,” Pavlo Ryabikin the adviser of the mayor Klitschko noted. By the way, the permit for the construction of the hotel Markon was issued on March 23, 2018, by the Ministry of Culture. The developer adjusted the design of the building at the request of officials, but they still blocked the work of the site.
“Together with a crane that costs 300,000 euros, a diesel generator of 200,000 euros worth was taken away from the construction site. Despite the fact that the court’s decision came into force, dismantling was carried out in the presence of Valentyn Mondryevsky, deputy head of the Kyiv City State Administration, and Taras Panchiy, First Deputy Director of the Department of Improvement of the Kyiv City State Administration, whom I personally informed about criminal liability for non-enforcement of court decisions,” says Valerii Pavlyuk.
On November 29, the executive body of the Kyiv City Council ordered the developer to completely clear the site within 30 days, and return it its “authentic look”. Obviously, it is about the demolition of three floors of the building, dismantling of engineering networks and 200 m of retaining wall. As a result, Kyiv authorities actually require opening the Descent, where the threat of a landslide exists every day. In this case, not only the construction site will be demolished, but a half of the Andriyivskyy Descent as well, which will be impossible to restore after such a disaster.
By Borys Metliov