Fifty-one-year-old geologist Davit Kobakhdze has lived with his five children in a Khrushchevka on Tbilisi’s Aleksandre Kazbegi Street since 2004. The residence originally was intended for police employees, he says.
“This building is so old that I would not mind [giving it up], considering that it could be a great offer,” says Kobakhidze. “One has to be a fool not to agree.”
That said, most of his neighbors rejected a similar such offer several years ago, he adds.
Multiply such refusals on a larger scale and it’s plain why tearing down Tbilisi’s Khrushchevkas would be a daunting task, cautions urban planner Nino Gventsadze, who oversees the Georgian economy ministry’s construction policy department.
“Imagine that there’re three families on each floor in an apartment complex, with four to five floors in total. These families [may] not give up their house for the same [kind of] space. First, so many people have to be transferred, then the business [the development company] must make money . . . it’s a bit of a complicated process to get going.”
Elsewhere in the post-Soviet sphere, Moscow’s own resettlement program for inhabitants of its city-owned Khrushchevkas illustrates that point.
For some, though, the difficulties of getting rid of Khrushchevkas are no reason to hang on to them. Art expert Tskhadadze, who charges that the residences “disfigured people’s existence,” insists that “it’s impossible for people to feel happy there.”
But Mzhavia says she understands the desire to stay put in a small building where the neighbors know each other. In the Soviet period, changing houses was not the norm.
“We grew up together. Some of us even became relatives; we became each other’s best men and bridesmaids.”
“If I had lived in a multi-storey building, it wouldn’t have been the same . . . “ she says.