The first residents preparing to move in to the Skolkovo innovation city’s brand new housing met with Skolkovo Foundation president Victor Vekselberg on Thursday to discuss their future community.
Marina Stepanova, the first person to sign a rental contract, shows off her robocat. Photo: Sk.ru.
The future Skolkovians - primarily staff of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), as well as employees of the Skolkovo Foundation’s resident startups and partner companies - drank mulled wine and ate plov at a small street party arranged amid the brand new townhouses, where they had the chance to ask Vekselberg questions about their new neighbourhood.
Marina Stepanova, the first person to sign a rental agreement, was presented with a pink robocat to mark the historic moment.
Stepanova, the deputy chief accountant of Skytrack, a resident startup of the Skolkovo Foundation that has offices on site, said she was looking forward to not depending on transport to get to work - and take her children to school. Two of her three children are already enrolled at the Skolkovo Gymnasium, she said, adding that the youngest is only three.
The offices of Skytrack, a software producer, are housed in the same building as the gymnasium, meaning Stepanova can combine the school run with her five-minute journey to work.
“Where we lived before in the Moscow region, it was taking us an hour-and-a-half to two hours to get to work,” she said, adding that in the absence of a real cat, she thought her children would be excited to get a robotic feline.
The first residents are due to move in at the beginning of next year. Currently, the finishing touches are being put to the interiors of the buildings, which range from low-storey apartment blocks to detached three-storey townhouses.
Of 160 residences being completed now, nearly half have been reserved by Skoltech for its teaching staff, many of whom come from abroad, said Yekaterina Vertyeva, head of the team managing Skolkovo’s residential accommodation. The rest have been rented out by people working at Skolkovo's partner companies and startups, she said.
One entrepreneur who has taken the leap of moving both his business and home to Skolkovo from next year is Georgy Ternovsky, marketing director of K50, a resident of the Skolkovo Foundation’s IT cluster.
He has signed a contract for an 80-square-metre apartment and is due to move in in February.
“It will be convenient, as we’re renting an office here from November,” he told Sk.ru.
“At the moment I work on the Arbat [in central Moscow], I pay 15,000 rubles ($235) a month for parking, and then [when I get there] there is no parking space anyway, and it takes 20 minutes to walk to the office. Here I’ll be able to walk to work in five minutes - and the surroundings here are nice as well,” he added.
Victor Vekselberg, left, answers future residents' questions during Thursday's event. Photo: Sk.ru.
Vekselberg, who told the future residents that he would be their neighbour as he will also have a residence on-site, asked those present to share their suggestions and requests.
Iskander Akhatov, a professor at Skoltech who lived in the U.S. for many years, said he hoped the English-language programme at the Skolkovo Gymnasium would be launched soon, and also that the security of residents would be taken into account. He also expressed a desire for residents to be allowed to plant flowers in the surrounding land plots.
Other feedback included a keen desire to see the housing finished on time, and for more infrastructure to be added for residents’ use.
When the first residents move in, cafes and restaurants are due to be open for business, along with bike and electric car rental facilities. Several parks surrounding the accommodation have already been laid out, along with children’s play areas.
By 2018, sports facilities are due to have opened at Skolkovo, along with the International Gymnasium, which is currently housed in another building on site while its purpose-built site is being completed. A transport hub with trains to Moscow’s Belorussky Station is also due to have opened by then, along with the first facilities of the Moscow International Medical Cluster.
By 2020, a whole host of other facilities are due to open, including a music theatre and open-air swimming pool.
The housing cannot currently be bought, as it is being built to house people currently working at the Skolkovo Foundation and Skoltech, but Vekselberg said that that position could be reviewed in the future, so long as accommodation remains available for those working on the project.