Some of Kiev’s characteristic landmarks are the scores of unfinished buildings both ringing and right in the city. Ukraine’s economy collapsed in the aftermath of 1991′s independence, with economic growth plummeting to a terrifying near 23% reversal in 1994. Yet by 1999, that was down to a mere 0.2% fall, and in the 2000s the Ukrainian economy began to become somewhat of a powerhouse, posting double-digit growth.
Allied to the Orange Revolution, which made many in Ukraine and beyond see the country’s future as prosperous and in the EU, money began pouring in. Much of this went into construction, as investors sought to transform the former Soviet state into a modern European city, and grab themselves a piece of the action. Ukrainians meanwhile saw an opportunity in the proliferation of new-builds to upgrade their living from Communist-era apartments, with all kinds of attractive offers available to entice aspirant homeowners, added to a feeling that soaring property prices may preclude similar future possibility. Ukrainian cement consumption was up 19% in 2004, and 16% in 2005, as the housing completions in 2004 were 15.5% up on the previous year.
Yet it didn’t last, the Orange Revolution was headed by those whose only competence lay in criminality, and the Ukrainian economy was sinking even before the 2008 credit crisis delivered its blow. Now, 5 years on and the economic outlook for Ukraine is improving, forecast to be near 3% next year by the IMF. But the abandoned buildings remain. Some are ‘dolga stroyatsa‘, long construction, others are destined never to be finished due to bankrupt companies and complex ownership structures which often involve unfinished sites technically owned by hundreds of would-be homeowners or investors.
There’s no denying these husks / shells / edifices form part of the special atmosphere that is modern Kiev. Here’s a look at a few:
The Construction Site – many buildings were abandoned in the early stages, complete with cranes
The Shell – Some structures never got to cladding, and their see-through nature casts quite spectacular streams of shadows when the sun rises
The Nearly Finished – some had their exteriors almost totally done, and from a distance can look like working buildings
The Could-be-Finished – This proposed partner to completed Business Centre Parus is still owned by Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash, and could be finished any time. Yet, it’s potential around 50,000 metres of office space would collapse office rents across Kiev.
Some Get Finished, Some Don’t – All across Kiev you will find pairs of buildings, of which there was only enough capital to complete one, leaving the other standing forever looking on at its lucky sibling as it degrades.
The Regenerations – This building would have given a huge business centre to Kiev’s still rather left-out-of-things left bank. Yet, it will likely never be.