Lately the government has renewed efforts to destroy yet more historic areas of the capital city, instead of preserving and turning them into tourist sites. Most of the residents of area called Kozern live in private homes, which for some reason were never privatized in their own names after the collapse of the Soviet Union
, therefore they are not the “legal” residents of their own homes in which they have lived for decades. As usual, the tenants are not being promised the prices for the properties they reside on that are commensurate with the current real estate prices of Central Yerevan
. The mayor of Yerevan, Yervand Zakharian, who as his predecessors were appointed by the President and has been careless with not only preserving historic landmarks but failing to give evicted residents proper compensation, promised to address their concerns over a week ago when several of Kozern’s residents visited his office in City Hall.
Kozern is located in an area considered to be Central Yerevan, although it is not exactly located in the city’s downtown area. As a matter of fact, I could not pinpoint the exact location of the neighborhood, as all articles I have read so far regarding the plight of Kozern’s residents seem to already assume that the reader knows where the place is. I found one line in an ArmeniaLiberty article that suggests where the district is located: “Karlen Hakhverdian has lived in the area [Kozern] close to the presidential palace in Yerevan for more than 40 years but is still not considered the legal owner of his modest house.” This means that the area is probably located high on the hill behind the Armenian University of Armenia building, where there are several apartment buildings and private homes. Or it could include the area located alongside Karen Demerjian Street, which runs perpendicular to Marshall Baghramian and is flanked by the Parliament building.
In any case, properties in the Central Yerevan district are currently selling for $1,000 to $1,500 per square meter. Undoubtedly, if these people are definitely required to relocate, they may be paid the same sums that the government paid residents living on Arami and Buzand Streets located near Republic Square and stretch as far as Mashdots Street. Residents there received only a few thousand dollars each, or else they were beaten when they refuse to vacate and were paid nothing, presumably ending up homeless. Even on the farthest outskirts of Yerevan you cannot purchase an apartment for less than $25,000 now.
A recent article published by Hetq Online claims that several old structures that were raised to make way for the grandiose, expected eyesore judging from some of the buildings half completed, the Northern Boulevard, will be reconstructed in “the area behind SIL Plaza, on Aram, Buzand and Koghbatsi streets.” If this indeed is the case then that’s at least something. Old Yerevan needs to be preserved at all costs, even if it means moving some of the buildings around to recreate a classic old neighborhood 80 or more years old. The ancient buildings that lined those streets as well as the ones on lower Abovyan Street, some of which still thankfully exist, were what inspired me to fall in love with Yerevan in the first place several years ago. Destroying them has crippled the city’s charm. But I hope after reading that article that Yerevan’s old magic will return to once again inspire new visitors.
You can read the article about Kozern here. The article about Old Yerevan can be found here.
Labels: Personal Experiences, Social and Cultural, Thoughts and Musings