New life of Old Tbilisi – exclusive interview with Beka Khoperia.

GEORGIA TODAY sat down with Beka Khoperia, founder of Apart Development, who built the company through his own experience in development and management.

Apart Development appeared on the market not so long ago and yet has already earned recognition and a high reputation. What do you think is the reason for the interest in your company, especially from foreign investors?

It is true that the company is only four years old, but a fairly experienced team has gathered in our management, and I think it is thanks to this that we have positioned ourselves correctly in the market. The construction and development market is really quite saturated, and we found the right niche and entered the Old Tbilisi location with new construction projects, which was difficult for many companies, who considered it not worth doing due to the low development ratio and, accordingly, profitability. However, especially from foreign customers, the demand for this location was high and our projects were justified.

We had our very first project on Bukhaidze Street in Old Tbilisi, which was sold in record time, followed by a second and third large-scale construction on the same territory. Today, we have 2 completed and 5 ongoing premium class residential projects in Old Tbilisi, and 1 shopping center on the Rustavi – Tbilisi highway. In total, that’s about 35,000 square meters of construction space. We boast 3 offices, up to 150 employees, and clients with substantial capital from different countries around the world.

Our remote service center is attractive and convenient for foreign investors, a place where we help clients go through the necessary procedures for buying an apartment without needing to come to Georgia: contact with banks, state structures, etc. On our site, a user can follow the ongoing construction process 24/7. We also offer a rental service where clients can make an investment and quickly receive a return on their money, so that they are minimally involved in it themselves – all these comforts are important to them. And as Old Tbilisi is a tourist center and the rental income here is much higher and more intense than in other areas, it is profitable for them.

Many are talking about your project, Old City Panorama. Tell us what makes it special.

One of our biggest and most important projects is Old City Panorama, the first phase of which is being completed in 3 months – we are preparing for the grand opening event in September. In addition to unique panoramic views, the complex includes interesting entertainment and leisure spaces, open and closed pools, spa, fitness hall, and cafe and co-working spaces.

How would you evaluate the renovation process of Old Tbilisi and the new initiative of City Hall in this regard?

I am happy with Tbilisi City Hall’s initiative to actively start rehabilitating dilapidated houses in Old Tbilisi and replace them with new buildings. Obviously, the project is accompanied by certain difficulties, for example, negotiations with residents, most of whom do not even have registered land and make irrelevant demands of investors. If in this part, City Hall has a complex vision and offer for the population, and we, the investors, will be able to start working on “clean” land, saving a lot of time and resources. The topic of the K2 coefficient needs to be taken into account [The K2 construction intensity coefficient is the ratio of the overall area of the floors of a building on a given plot of land to the overall area of the plot]. Increasing the construction intensity coefficient by paying a certain fee means that the construction company can add to the number of floors of a building], which is considered rather challenging in Old Tbilisi, while developers working in other areas enjoy certain benefits in this regard.

Tell us about Georgia’s construction standards. Have they improved over time? Does the EU Association Agreement reflect new standards that Georgian construction companies must meet?

Soviet construction standards are still in force in Georgia, although active work is underway to move to European standards. The main difference between the existing and Euro standards is related to seismic resistance, with buildings needing to be more earthquake resistant, safe, and of higher quality. We believe that most of the main construction spectrum is ready to build buildings designed in accordance with EU norms. Regarding the production of construction works, over the last 10 years, the construction process has significantly improved- a large number of companies have started producing basic construction documentation, and quality control directions have also been established.

How high is the competition in terms of construction quality on the Georgian market today?

Construction quality and requirements are definitely improving, which is accompanied by even stricter norms and standards to ultimately benefit our city and country. This process only serves to make us happy and strengthen us, as does the existence of competitors and their activities. The more interesting projects there are in the country, the more the general economy will improve due to new investments or tourism.

Batumi has the largest share of the development market after Tbilisi. Do you see prospects in other cities and are you planning projects outside the capital?

Batumi is definitely an interesting location for investment, especially for foreign clients, although it is also worth noting that when choosing between Batumi and Tbilisi, the capital is still our first choice. Unlike coastal cities, the capital is not characterized by seasonal rentals; long-term contracts, etc. are more common in Tbilisi. However, the pace and number of constructions in Batumi emphasize its attractiveness. That is why we also have plans for Batumi, which we will implement in the coming years, however, we believe we will maintain our niche and stay within the boundaries of the central, old part of Batumi.

What is your company’s strategy for further development?

We think that the market demands it and we are ready to offer our concept, quality and location advantages to a wider audience. I won’t go into the details of specific projects at this stage, but I will tell you that we have already made quite large investments in terms of land. Work is ongoing on premium-class complexes with large-scale development, 1000 or more apartments, in various districts of Tbilisi. Each new project concept will be unique and distinctive, tailored to the master plan of the city.

The management is preparing to take on big challenges. We are working with some invited business consultants to properly mobilize forces, because in the next 2-year plan, the scale of the company will increase not by 100 and 200, but by almost 1000%.

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