Friday was sort of like a school “field trip” day for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin. The two men visited the site formerly occupied by the Rossiya Hotel, just off Red Square.
The prime minister had asked the Moscow mayor to consider building a park and recreation area in place of the former Rossiya Hotel. Mr. Putin feels that the current proposal for a parliamentary centre and business/hotel complex would create an additional congestion in the centre of Moscow. “Nearly all parklands in the centre of Moscow have been destroyed in the past decades. There are hardly any left,” Putin said as he toured the proposed construction site with the mayor. “There are certainly less in the centre than anywhere else,” Sobyanin added.
Mr. Putin suggested that a park next to the Kremlin area would be a better idea and Mayor Sobyanin conveyed support for the idea. The Prime Minister instructed Mayor Sobyanin to discuss the proposal with Moscow residents, the Moscow City Duma and the Moscow Government.
While Sobyanin seemed to like the proposal, a park would scuttle plans for a commercial project which includes a new headquarters for both houses of the Russian Parliament.
Built in the 1960s, the old Rossiya was at one time the largest hotel in Europe with 3,200 rooms, 250 some odd suites, a movie theatre, and held multiple restaurants along with a post office, gym/spa and the State Concert Hall with 2500 seats. The Rossiya could host over 4,000 hotel guests easily. It was demolished in 2007.