Estonian entrepreneurs Oleg Ossinovski and Marcel Vichmann are constructing a new district for the wealthy on a hill towering over Tbilisi the luxuriousness and western air of which offers stark contrast to the situation and architecture in the capital.
The future district called Tbilisi Hills that lies on 331 hectares already has an 18-hole golf course stretching six kilometers that has been included among the 27 best courses in the world by the international golf tourism association.
There is also a modern golf academy building, the hill has 2.5 kilometers of water pipes with pumping stations, and power lines. The Georgian climate allows one to play golf from March to November, while snowfall is possible in other months.
President Kersti Kaljulaid attended the opening of the Estonian investors’ golf course last fall.
The main courses are for professionals, while the complex also holds training and warm-up courses, executive manager of the development, renowned golf course maintenance specialist Perry Einfeldt told Postimees. There are six Estonians working on the development, with the rest of the workforce hired from among locals. The newly completed golf academy building offers professional training for amateur golf enthusiasts.
The Tbilisi Hills district will offer some 3,000 dwellings, including 250 residences and 2,500 apartments. At the height of 700 meters, Tbilisi Hills offers fresh air, pinewoods, and a charming view of the Georgian capital. Investors are busy constructing a hotel, restaurant, and even a schoolhouse. There will also be a helicopter landing pad for an air taxi to the Tbilisi airport.
The Georgian capital lies in a bowl between mountains – the air hardly moves and is polluted, and the capital is stiflingly hot eight months out of the year. Owner and chairman of the supervisory board of Skinest Rail, Oleg Ossinovski, said that the greatest value of Tbilisi Hills is clean and human-friendly environment where houses and apartments will not cost more than those in Tbilisi’s elite Vake district.
True, the highway currently leading from downtown Tbilisi to Tbilisi Hills in 20-30 minutes needs renovation. The Georgian government and the municipality of Tbilisi have promised to build a new road.
“Our concept is this: sell your apartment in Vake and spend the money on a house in Tbilisi Hills. In addition to the fresh air, it will have favorable logistics and the possibility to get to the center of Tbilisi in ten minutes. Traffic jams make it impossible to go from Vake to the city in ten minutes,” Ossinovski said in an interview he recently gave to Postimees.
Ossinovski said that Estonian investors have already placed more than €30 million in the project. He put the total cost of the project at around €1 billion. That is four times the Estonian state budget from 1993 and 10 percent of the current state budget. The Georgian GDP for this year is estimated at €13 billion.
Estonian entrepreneurs have invested in Georgia before. They are active in the field of tourism and have a factory making nut butter for European cosmetics companies.
Estonian investors who tried their luck near the Azerbaijani capital of Baku did not fare as well. The Seaside Residence Baku project went bankrupt, investors lost money and found themselves embroiled in criminal investigations and trials that have not been concluded to this day.
Oleg Ossinovski said he has no interests in Azerbaijan. “I try to be active in countries that have a functional judicial system and where one can take investment risks,” he said. Georgia is the most democratic, westernized, and least corrupt of the three Transcaucasian countries.
Azerbaijan, rich in oil and natural gas, is ruled by presidential authority to which the parliament, courts, and local governments are subject.
Armenia finds itself in a difficult foreign policy situation between two historic enemies, Turkey and Azerbaijan, which is probably one reason why the country is a Russian ally today. Armenia is the only country in the South Caucasus that has Russian military bases.