Tiles and granite: Moscow’s “redevelopment”

The frenzied, absurd, profligate “urban redevelopmentunderway in Moscow under Mayor Sergei Sobyanin fills me with a low-grade, drone-like dread of what’s to come. Throwing money to the wind seldom if ever resolves itself into respectable austerity: abject misery is the default outcome.

It started relatively innocently with the now-infamous sidewalk tiles. Now it’s a spending spree of obscene proportions amidst a stagnant economy.

What irks me particularly is the mayor’s fascination with granite. His team wants to have granite benches in the city center. Not just hard but also cold – in a city where winter lasts for eight months.

They are also replacing regular concrete street curbs with granite ones – everywhere, it seems. Granite looks better, no doubt, especially the pink granite I’ve seen in some parts of Moscow. Also, Washington, DC, has granite curbs – 70% more expensive than concrete but supposed to last for five decades or more. By the logic of Moscow city officials, this means that public funds are best spent on total curb replacement.

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