By Kate Tabatadze
Those who love urban comfort will find everything they need in “Dirsi” city, which is being built over an area of 46 hectares. AS Georgia – the subsidiary of AS Group Investment, one of the most powerful development holding companies in the region – has invested up to $200 million in the construction of Tbilisi’s largest residential complex since 2011. Property Georgia spoke to the company’s Director General, Besik Jikurauli.
Large-scale projects require great effort, particularly when they are implemented for the first time. The magnitude of your complex is unprecedented for the Georgian market. How successful has the ‘city within a city’ concept been for you?
- “Dirsi” is the largest project on the Georgian real estate market. Up to $200 million has been invested during the first stage of development alone. We plan to develop an area of 46 hectares, of which only 8 hectares have been used thus far. Completed buildings will be delivered in ‘white frame’ condition, together with the appropriate infrastructure. 11 apartment blocks consisting of 22 buildings have been completed during the first stage of construction over a period of only 2 years. Needless to say, the project has been successful. Housewarmings have already begun at our complex, and more residents are moving in on a daily basis. Half of the 2600 completed apartments have already been sold, and up to 1000 families are currently residing in “Dirsi.”
Who are the residents in “Dirsi”?
- The first and second stages of construction of the “Dirsi” complex have delivered approximately 5200 economy-class apartments. Our residents mainly come from Georgia, although there has also been significant interest from abroad, particularly from citizens of Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Iran. With regards to Azerbaijan, we are thinking of creating interrelated products together with our parent company. This will allow us to sell the parent firm’s Baku apartments from Tbilisi, while in turn, the sales of Georgian properties would pick up in Azerbaijan.
What are the advantages of living in “Dirsi” city?
- Large space, a 5 km walking path, a 12 km circular running route, bikeways that do not intersect with roads used by motorists, secure playgrounds for children, public squares and rides, cafes and shops – “Dirsi” has everything that ensures comfort for our residents. Here you can be certain that no new buildings will be constructed between the blocks, and nobody will be able to look into your apartment from neighbouring balconies. Today, the focus is no longer on the cost of the project, or whether the construction takes place in the center of the city. Real estate buyers from developed countries are particularly interested in the infrastructure, the recreational facilities and the quality of the building materials. Approximately 20% of the territory in “Dirsi” will be taken up by the largest park that has been constructed in Tbilisi over the last 15-20 years, covering 8 ha of space. These are the lungs of our capital city.
What led to the Azerbaijani company AS Group Investment first deciding to invest in the Georgian real estate market and building the ‘city within a city’ at this particular location?
- The investment climate in Georgia has become attractive for foreign investors in recent years, and the real estate sector is no exception. The Azerbaijani company explored several projects in Tbilisi prior to settling on the ‘city within a city’ concept, which turned out to be the correct decision. The area now occupied by “Dirsi” was lying empty. A space of such magnitude, located only 5 km away from the city center and 15 minutes away from the Tbilisi Airport, was of interest to investors. Together with economic growth, each large city’s development is conditioned by the distance to the airport.
When we are dealing with a large-scale construction project, we often have to ask how solid and secure it is.
- All apartment blocks in “Dirsi” are built on solid rock. We completely removed the soft soil. The buildings are designed to withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake. The blocks are made of monolithic concrete. We are using the best inert materials. I would also like to add that we produce our own building materials. Our Azerbaijani parent company has invested $40 million to this end.
All safety standards are maintained in our city. The “Dirsi” apartment blocks are equipped with a centralised fire security system, as well as backup water and power supply systems.
Aside from a firm and secure environment, “Dirsi” also offers its residents energy efficiency. In 2011, when we started the construction process, energy efficiency was hardly on anyone’s mind in Tbilisi, while we already had it considered for our project.
Do you plan to expand your development activities into the premium segment?
- We are likely to begin the second and third stages of construction in “Dirsi” simultaneously. The first and second stages involve constructing 23 to 26-storey, economy-class apartment blocks. The two sets of buildings will mirror each other, and will each occupy an area of 210 000 m2. A three-level parking garage with 1500 parking spaces will be located in-between them. We are also thinking of building several multifunctional skyscrapers, a hotel and an aparthotel. However, we have not yet made a final decision in this regard.
Stage 3 of the construction process will see the development of the premium segment in “Dirsi.” Here, the buildings will have no more than 12 floors, and will be aimed at people with higher income. Additional space will be used to construct further premium-class facilities, including 3 and 4-storey residential homes and villas. This process is due to start in approximately 5 years.