A City Within A City
The Azerbaijani company AS Group Investment has been positioned both on the local and the international markets for 15 years. Through a combination of proper management and ambitious planning, the company has managed to expand its field of activity from the production of building materials into construction, and then into development. Its progressive vision and financial growth has led AS Group Investment’s leadership to consider geographic expansion, and by now, the company has carried out up to 40 successful projects outside of Azerbaijan worth $700 million. Many of these investments (worth a total of $200 million) were made in Georgia, where the company has undertaken an ambitious plan to build a micro-city within a city in the shape of “Dirsi.”
The construction and subsequent development of the Dirsi residential complex in Tbilisi was conducted under the guidance of AS Georgia. The company entered the Georgian market with ambitious plans, and the project authors never thought about taking the easy route. The location was chosen not based of its prestige, but based on its practicality and modern trends. The first stage of construction of the micro-city began in 2011. Located in the historic part of the capital, in-between the airport and the tourist center, the project’s inspiration came from an innovative concept. The implementation of the initial concept, as well as the construction of recreational and educational zones, the boulevard and 11 residential blocks, cost a total of $150 million and took almost two years to complete, providing employment for 5,000 people in the process. An area of 210,000 m2 was developed into a multifunctional complex that fulfils people’s everyday needs. International quality standards, flexible and comfortable service - all of this is brought together in the same space.
In order to implement the construction process more effectively and in a shorter period of time, the company immediately established a building material production plant on the premises of the complex, investing up to $40 million in its construction.
“The plant produces concrete, carcasses, blocks and reinforcing cages, which are used for the ongoing construction projects. Setting up a local plant, which is equipped with modern technology and machinery, has enabled for the smooth implementation of the construction process, full quality control and the optimization of costs. The plant employs a total of 250 people. Prior to the commencement of the second stage of construction, we were only selling the building materials produced here to various partner companies that we are successfully cooperating with,” explains AS Georgia’s General Director, Beso Jikurauli.
There are no plans to halt the production process over the next few years. In fact, there are still several other projects for AS Georgia to implement as part of the Dirsi development process. Three additional stages of construction and development lie ahead. Similar to the first stage, the second stage will focus on the construction of residential blocks. The construction process will start in late 2019, and will see high-quality apartment blocks erected on an area of 8 hectares – the same as during the first stage. The company director also reveals that the transitional period between the first and second stages will include the start of construction of two skyscrapers with helipads on their rooftops. As mentioned previously, AS Group Investment’s subsidiary company in Georgia has ambitious plans and high standards of execution, and the planned skyscrapers are an example of this. At a time when the construction of apartment blocks leads to a decrease in oxygen levels across the city, the establishment of a forest park in Dirsi is both an interesting and a necessary step. Moreover, in addition to the forest park, the third stage involves the construction of an amusement park, which will offer various activities and rides that can attract visitors from all over the city. The aforementioned development plans for an area of 8 hectares have already been approved, up to 600 saplings have been planted, and the company will only need another six months to decide on the final concept for the forest park.
As for the fourth stage of the project, it also involves constructing residential blocks, though these will be smaller in size compared to the first and second stages, and will fall into the luxury category.
“We did not plan to invest money into a project, achieve a profit within approximately five years, and then return to Azerbaijan. Quite simply, this is the largest development project in Tbilisi. It is so massive that it will take at least 10-15 years before its completion allowing us to benefit from it financially,” Beso Jikurauli explained, while using a miniature model of the residential complex to show where, when and how Dirsi will be developed over the coming years.
Development, construction, service, fit-out and building materials – all these elements are now united under a single brand and company name. According to the company, the expansion of its services took place in accordance with the needs of existing and potential residents. Creating maximum comfort for the residents and ensuring that they live in a healthy, safe environment is a principle that is followed by the company’s 250 employees on a daily basis. Since its inception, the company has actively promoted a healthy lifestyle, which manifests itself in busy sports fields, children’s playgrounds and green spaces. Soon the complex will boast a 12 km long circular cycling path, which will be periodically used to host various marathons.
Will a rapidly growing company such as AS Georgia limit itself to remaining in the development industry, or is there a field that interests the company from the point-of-view of future development? Logically, this question persistently came to my mind during the interview with the Director General. Clearly, the company is oriented towards progress and growth, and it is not planning to slow down. “
From a business development point-of-view, the only other sector that is of interest to us, and where we see great potential, is agriculture. We are thinking about developing the greenhouse industry. To this end, we will be working with both our Azerbaijani owners and Chinese partners,” Mr. Jikurauli reveals.
A total of 46 ha of land is already in use. Some of it has been developed and is visible, while other parts of it are still only presented in the layout and are waiting to be materialized. When asked about the Dirsi project’s main competitive advantage, Jikurauli does not have to think long:
“This is more than just a commercial location. This is the best example of spatial development, and of a micro-city that is already ahead of its time, deals with all modern-day challenges, and will continue to do so until we have developed the whole 46-hectare area, which, as you will agree, is a massive space.”