Issue 4, 2011. August-September

   

FROM DOWNTOWN TO OUT OF TOWN: A SHIFT TO THE SUBURBS

A new suburb at Lisi Lake might boost broader interest in suburban living - a trend that is slowly catching on in Tbilisi.

Maia Edilashvili


Just ten minutes from downtown Tbilisi, Green Town Lisi could jump start a new demand for suburban living, developers believe.

Projects like Rakeen's Uptown Tbilisi (scheduled to open later this year) and Tbilisi Diplomatic Village - a development of 45 American-style houses - are also tapping into a new desire to move out of the city.

The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi was one of the first to move to the suburbs.

With multifunction recreation zones and modern architecture, Green Town Lisi, a 355 hectare project, will aim to create a health-spa suburban experience complete with walking trails, sulphur baths and a spa center.

Out of town developments are increasingly part of Tbilisi's broad development. In an earlier interview, Tengiz Bendukidze, commercial director with Rakeen, said that the Uptown Tbilisi project is "creating a destination" outside the city.

"This is a psychological moment," he said. "We are creating a destination, not just shopping. People can go there all day."

Nikoloz Urushadze, the general director of Paragon, a Tbilisi-based real estate consulting company, said residents of Tbilisi who want the quiet life of the suburbs have previously opted for Tskneti or other villages that border Tbilisi.

"What happened in the big industrial cities many years ago, is now taking place in Georgia," Urushadze told Investor.ge.

"Projects like Lisi will spark even greater interest towards this new trend."

"Construction has started on the first phase, which will take one year and end by July 1, 2012," said Mariam Zaldastanishvili, the marketing and artistic director of Lisi Development. According to her, sales are "quite intense."

If the project generates enough demand it could be an impetus for new building projects in the suburbs and downtown, Urushadze said.

"[This project] will increase competition with the buildings downtown and at the same time increase the need for high quality projects," Urushadze said.

The group purchased the land in 2007 for $182 million.

The initial investment cost of the project is estimated at over $100 million, and is being financed with assistance by the US Development Bank OPIC and the Netherlands entrepreneurial development bank.