Over the past twenty years, urban experts who assessed the development of major cities in Russia have sounded the alarm regarding social infrastructure. The rate of housing construction in almost all cities with a population of one million people dramatically outstripped the growth of social and engineering infrastructure.
That is why elementary classes with 40 or more students and daily traffic jams. In these, hundreds of thousands of people are forced to burn their time in the morning and evening, something that has unfortunately become an ordinary phenomenon in new neighborhoods of dozens of cities in the country.
However, the situation did not develop into a full-fledged communal disaster. Somewhere along the line, the local authorities found internal resources to smooth over the emerging infrastructure deficits, in which they managed to extract necessary resources from developers in the form of new roads, schools, and utility lines. Nevertheless, the acuteness of the problem did not lose and regularly appeared in the media and on the authorities’ agenda.
Furthermore, there are signs that the state and businesses have been able to work out a mutually acceptable practice of participating developers in developing the residential environment in emerging neighborhoods. So far, it concerns only one point in St. Petersburg and the neighboring towns and villages of the Leningrad region, but there is no doubt that in the case of strategic success, this practice will quickly spread to other areas. This is because they are also waiting for examples that can be reproduced in their country.
The conference Development of Building Complex of St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region, of which took place on the 19th of October in the historical park Russia, becoming the brightest display of such practice formation.
Without a doubt, the main event of the conference was the signing of an agreement between several key developers working in the Leningrad region: Setl Group, GC Samolet, and CDS Group. All of these companies have had shared responsibilities for the planning and construction of the tramway, which would provide transport links between the Nevsky district of St. Petersburg and the Vsevolozhsky district of the region.
Experts are already saying that this interaction experience marks the beginning of a qualitatively new stage in urban infrastructure development. Everyone will benefit from the changed conditions: the authorities, residents, and developers.
The authorities’ motivation is clear, with the availability of roads, kindergartens, and schools largely determining the residents’ behavior in the elections. It is no coincidence that quite recently, at the platform of the All-Russian Forum Strategic Planning in Regions and Cities of Russia in early November, the Governor of St. Petersburg, Alexander Beglov, acknowledged the problems that have been seen in this area. As it was noted back in 2014-2015, the total shortage of schools in the northern capital was about 100 institutions, and kindergartens more than 200.
Since then, enormous efforts have been made to achieve profound results. There have been 44 more schools, and the number of kindergartens has also seen a significant increasing, going up by 127. However, as we can see, this has only slowed the problem, not solved it.
Moreover, at the same venue, Beglov himself warned that after 2024, according to the available funding plans, the pace of construction of children’s and educational institutions will slow down. This means that the gap between needs and possibilities may again begin to grow. Despite this, the active involvement of developers in solving the problem can provide a strategic turning point for the better.
|The largest developers in the Leningrad region, according to the portal ERZ, 01.09.2022|
|Ranking place||Builder||Under construction, m2||ERZ Rating|
|1||CDS Group, St. Petersburg||575 785||5|
|2||ISG MAVIS, St. Petersburg
|4||Euroinvest Development, St. Petersburg||232 009||5|
|5||Polis Group Group, St. Petersburg
|6||Arsenal Real Estate Group, St. Petersburg
|7||KVS Group of Companies, St. Petersburg
|8||LenOblAIHK, St. Petersburg
|9||SK PETROSTROY, St. Petersburg
|10||SK LenRusStroy, Leningrad region||112 144||5|
All the Best for Children
In the development of public-private partnership institutions, St. Petersburg business has something to learn from. There is a construction company in the city and the region which has been actively investing in the social infrastructure of the territories, in which it implements its development projects for several years. This Euroinvest holding is suitably headed by Andrey Berezin.
Berezin praised the agreement between Setl Group, Samolet Group, and CDS Group. In his opinion, such deals not only facilitate the dynamic development of the new districts of the St. Petersburg agglomeration, but they also work to create a comfortable and affordable living environment. He referred to his own company’s experience, which also demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach.
When Berezin spoke at the holding, he spoke on the signficiace of the companies’ contributions – “We also have a positive experience of such cooperation. Murino Management Company (a division of investment company Euroinvest) once coordinated the efforts of developers and transport services in the Leningrad region to construct the interchange between Western Murino and Ring Road.” This interchange helped to relieve the traffic on major urban highways. According to many experts, this generally made the quality of its design and construction speed of the interchange become, in many respects, a model for successful development for road and transportation networks.
However, not only the competent realization of this particular project by Euroinvest is important. It is also essential that the company has had a lot of such projects in recent years. The experience it has gained is used by the holding in implementing more ambitious initiatives, one in particular – the construction of a new road. The four-lane highway that will be acting as an extension of Piskarevsky Prospekt will pass through all of Yuzhnoe Murino and then come out to the road St. Petersburg – Matoksa. Its launch will not only become an excellent help for tens of thousands of citizens of the satellite city, but it will help to harmonize the work of the city road network significantly.
Euroinvest intends to take an even more active part in developing the social environment, emphasizing the needs of families with children. For example, all the necessary work is being completed before the commissioning of the kindergarten in Kudrovo, which is expected to receive the first groups of children before the New Year. In this case, the company completed the construction and finishing works ahead of schedule to help the city improve the situation in the social sphere.
Berezin’s holding is also working towards designing and building its residential complexes based on the same social priorities. The most favorable conditions are being created on the territory of the Euroinvest residential complex for mothers with children. Playgrounds and sports grounds are built in such a way that children of different ages would find them interesting. In the meantime, however, there are children’s entertainment rooms inside the buildings with various exciting contents.
Moreover, the developer has recently been actively introducing a new concept of the organization of life in its residential complexes, a part of which is the support of the club format of the leisure time of the dwellers. Activities in the public areas of the complexes are regular; film screenings, master classes, and lectures that help people go beyond the boundaries of their apartments and help in finding new friends and expanding their social horizons.
It is mainly due to this approach to the organization of the social environment of the residential complexes that the holding regularly receives awards from the professional community. The most recent award was the title of the most client-oriented developer in the Leningrad region. It was awarded to Euroinvest by the regional union of construction associations and organizations according to the results of the contest held this year.
The Lyceum as a Response to the Industrial Revolution
Whilst all that has already been said could be called important, the actual measurement of success and the effectiveness of Euroinvest’s social activities is measured primarily by their systemic nature.
The support of education by the holding and its managers is a successive process in which one action arises from another and is part of a broader strategy. An example is the recent re-equipment of the Gymnasium in Gatchina, with the expenses afforded by Euroinvest. It is not just about the replaced furniture, because with the new furnishings in the classrooms came modern health-saving technologies, including approaches developed by the Russian scientist V. Bazarny.
Berezin’s holding also works similarly to support young talents. There are several initiatives that form a general environment of support and assistance. Some are based on cooperation with partner organizations, including Leonhard Euler International Charitable Foundation for the Support of Mathematics and the World Club of Petersburgers, headed by Mikhail Piotrovsky. With the first, the holding has held more than one educational forum for young mathematicians. With the latter, it organizes the annual Prometheus Star award, celebrating the achievements of novice scientists, artists, and athletes.
This summer, Berezin and his colleagues have taken another step that will bring the systemic nature and the scale of the holding’s social activities closer towards fulfilling their long-term goals. The construction of a new educational institution for gifted children in St. Petersburg – Governor’s College – has been started.
The project of a new educational center is already worked out, and the place of its future building is determined on the shore of Lake Bolshoye in the Kaselevo neighborhood. On this territory, several buildings will appear at once, allowing placing both classes, laboratories, creative space, and even living quarters. This will enable those involved to organize the work of the Lyceum in the boarding format, providing good living conditions for students. In addition, the construction program includes a large sports complex and its own beach with a pier.
Even such big plans to build new facilities would not have meant so much if Berezin’s group did not begin to solve the problem of forming the future pedagogical staff for the academy. It not only started solving these issues, but it also managed to achieve significant success; the information about the signed agreements with the teachers of one of the best schools of physics and mathematics in the city who agreed to strengthen the academy’s staff was made accessible to the public.
Berezin emphasizes that social activity, especially in the educational sphere, is not just an attempt to create a responsible image for his company. Instead, it is about a much deeper understanding that only the support of intellectual capital can ensure the future of both Euroinvest Holding and Russia.
Berezin spoke about the holding’s intentions in an interview a couple of years ago – “There is now a fourth industrial revolution taking place in the world. All the old stories when markets were important, then raw materials, are receding into the background. Now, brains are important, and it is where they are concentrated that there will be a breakthrough. This is what is of value today. And all the rest is markets; raw materials will be self-sufficient and will not go anywhere. We see that raw materials are being sold. But we are not the ones selling it. And from the point of view of markets, it is the same: if you can’t produce anything, you will be buying. It is brains that will become the key competence of any successful project in the foreseeable future, and that is why it makes sense to invest in them.”
In the end, it turns out that a relatively small company, especially compared with real giants of the country’s development market, managed to set an example of diligent, consistent, and systematic work in social activity. Projects initiated by Euroinvest are already helping to make life in St. Petersburg and its satellite towns more comfortable and focused on human development. If this experience is noticed by other market players or even the Russian state, the effect will become much more powerful.
Andrey Berezin was born in 1967 in Leningrad. In 1990, he graduated with honors from the Leningrad Ustinov Mechanical Institute. He graduated with honors from the Leningrad Ustinov Mechanical Institute in 1990 with a degree in automatic control systems engineering.
In 1993 he took part in the creation of the North-West Fisheries Company.
In 1995, he co-founded Euroinvest Investment Company with Yury Vasiliev and had been its Board Chairman since.
Today Euroinvest is a diversified holding company, which includes companies and projects from different economic sectors.
One of the directions of Euroinvest work is legal and engineering support for developing land plots and territories in St. Petersburg, the Leningrad region, and other regions.
At the end of 2017, Euroinvest Group created its construction division Euroinvest Development, which is engaged in the construction of housing and other objects, thus forming an entire cycle development business.
A relatively new direction for Euroinvest is the agro-industrial sector. Agrocluster Krasnoye Znamya in the Pskov region specializes in producing grain and fodder for livestock.
In May 2017, the management of the Euroinvest investment company established the Euro Venture fund with an initial amount of € 10 million. Priority areas for investment are innovative developments in the scientific and technical sphere, as well as projects in the creative industry.