A New Voice in the Development Sector

A New Voice in the Development Sector

To add a new chapter to the urban biography of the city, the Wissol Group founded the development firm Biograpi. The highly experienced management team entrusted the leadership of this new commercial real estate company to young Vasil Pkhakadze.

“I won’t deny that this job comes with a lot of responsibility, but I can rely on my strong team. Their professionalism and experience strengthen me. Naturally, I try to learn as much as possible from these people,” says Vasil Pkhakadze. Within the business group owned by his father, Levan, and uncle, Soso, Vasil is a business leader of the new generation.

Vasil Pkhakadze manages Wissol Group’s development firm Biograpi, which is currently working on three projects: the multi-purpose complexes Sakeni and Matiani and the multipurpose settlement Hisni.

Vasil is 27 years old. During our meeting, he is wearing a plain white t-shirt and blue jeans, embodying a generation of managers who stand above consumerism. He is open but concise, using only the exact words needed to convey his thoughts. He values his own and other people’s time. He knows what he wants and has analyzed every path that leads to his goals.

It is no coincidence that Vasil chose Bentley University in Boston to enhance his growth in the field of business and development. Bentley is famous for using teaching methods based on a combination of business, arts and science to develop business leaders with critical thinking and practical skills.

After spending five years in Boston working for the influential hedge fund Crossover Capital Partners, the business analyst felt that he had accumulated enough knowledge and experience to return to Georgia and launch a career in business.

Vasil Pkhakadze returned to Georgia in 2020. “Two years ago, I launched the project that I am overseeing right now.” According to Vasil, he has been interested in business since childhood. He describes himself as a practical person rather than a gambler. “The drive to succeed, compete, develop, enter different industries, set new goals and achieve them – this is what I have always been interested in.”

Additionally, he closely followed his father and uncle’s business fortunes. “They created many enterprises from scratch, gradually growing them into large businesses. I watched it happen with my own eyes, and I realized that this was not only possible but also an immensely emotional and satisfying process. I am not only talking about my personal well-being but also that of our country. Many new jobs, tax revenue for the budget… these are emotions that I have always wanted to experience,” Vasil explains.

Vasil was also attracted by Georgia’s economic development trends and market potential. “When people ask me why I moved from the U.S. back to Georgia, I tell them that I see far more potential here. That may sound strange, but it is simply a matter of fact that developing countries have great development potential. Of course, risks are also involved, but I always found it appealing to be in a place where risk meets opportunity.”

Although Biograpi only appeared in the saturated development market a couple of months ago, the team has been put together over the last two years. Wissol Group conducted a market analysis and laid the groundwork for diversifying its business operations.

According to Vasil, the idea was borne out of the good prospects in the sector. A niche was seen in the development market for quality-oriented customers, and Vasil took it as a signal to enter the industry. Another key reason was Wissol Group’s long-term commercial real estate activity. “Against the background of these operations, our business group accumulated several strategically appealing locations for residential development,” says Vasil.

Finding a suitable plot of land in central Tbilisi is becoming nearly impossible. Biograpi owns several exclusive and unique plots across the city. According to Vasil, these plots were purchased over several years.

The business group acquired all three locations earmarked for Biograpi’s first multi-purpose projects many years ago. For example, the former site of Hotel Abkhazia on 25 Vazha-Pshavela Avenue, a dream location for many developers, has been owned by Wissol Group since 2011.

It is universally known that doing business requires pragmatic decisions. Feeling when is the best and the right moment to take certain steps is crucial to a successful business philosophy. “We were guided by market analysis and our group’s multi-layered experience of successful operations, which shows that you should not enter the market too soon or too late. We concluded that now is the right moment,” Vasil insists.

Biograpi has a long-term vision. “Each one of our projects must be completed to the highest standards. Our customers must receive what we promise them: quality, comfort, and a healthy multi-purpose environment.” Vasil is keen to provide details about the company’s first three development projects – worth $300 million in total – which will enhance Tbilisi’s urban tissue. These are Sakeni, Matiani, and Hisni.

As mentioned earlier, the multi-purpose complex Sakeni will be located on the grounds of the former Hotel Abkhazia at 25 VazhaPshavela Avenue. Named after the Sakeni River in southern Abkhazia, the project ensures that the location’s history is retained. “If you look at the floor plan, each apartment has a name linked to Abkhazia: Ritsa, Bzipi, Gagra, Anakopia and others. This is our way of paying respect to this region; we are very proud of it. The feedback has been excellent,” Vasil says.

The branding of the company’s development concept was done by a British firm, which also incorporated elements of the location’s history in the foundation of the new residential ecosystem.

“We are using a similar approach for the Matiani project, located at 45 Akaki Tsereteli Avenue, opposite the Pantheon. The third location at 69 Queen Ketevan Avenue in the Isani district also incorporates a historical concept. The project’s name is Hisni, which is the old name of Isani and means castle in Arabic,” Vasil explains.

Construction of Sakeni has already started and is due to be completed in 2027. Construction of Matiani will begin this autumn and finish in late 2027. Hisni will launch next spring and be completed in several phases due to the scale of the project. The sale of apartments in Sakeni has already started. All properties will be delivered in a green-frame state.

Sakeni and Matiani are designed as multi-story tower complexes. The total area of the Sakeni project is 80,000m2, and that of Matiani is 60,000m2. The Hisni complex will stretch across an area of four hectares. It will incorporate several apartment blocks and two hectares of inner recreational space with unique plant species.

All three projects focus on multi-functionality and panoramic views. The multi-story buildings will offer impressive views of the city. Most importantly, these will be protected views: the projects are being implemented in existing built-up areas where large new buildings are unlikely to be erected to obstruct the views in the future.

“We do our best to adapt to the environment at the building location rather than crudely force ourselves in. At the same time, we must acknowledge that urban renewal is inevitable,” says Vasil. The demands associated with the growing scale of construction projects and modern living standards are changing the appearance of the city. “We want to play our part in Tbilisi’s refinement and urban renewal.”

The multi-functionality of the projects means that each complex will incorporate facilities allowing tenants to take advantage of various services without leaving the premises. These will include fitness rooms, swimming pools, grocery stores and co-working lounges. Commercial spaces will be occupied by premium brands such as the delicatessen ‘Gastronome’, the Italian restaurant ‘Bistro by Gastronome’, the ‘Oktopus’ fitness center and a 25-meter swimming pool, the French restaurant ‘Paul’, the American quick service restaurant chain ‘Dunkin’, the healthy food chain ‘Ska’, and others.

“One of the greatest inconveniences today is the time lost moving around the city. By creating a comfortable environment for our tenants, we save them time and money, making their daily lives easier,” says Vasil. Factors such as energy and heat efficiency or sound insulation are essential to creating comfortable living conditions for customers. “Unfortunately, many developers in Georgia neglect these details. The same applies to parking. We always pay special attention to the issue of parking spaces, as it is impossible for commercial facilities to function without them. The Sakeni project includes 500 secure parking spaces, which is plenty.”

Vasil believes that Sakeni, Matiani, and Hisni will soon become notable urban and architectural landmarks of Tbilisi. In his own words, “Such projects contribute to the growth of economic activity in the surrounding area and increase the price of real estate. Thus, I think we can bring great benefits to the city and the country’s economy in general.”

Vasil began paying attention to multi-story residential complexes during his time in Boston. The environment extended far beyond the apartment door in the building where he lived: it was a place for socializing, establishing friendships and having new experiences. The building administration would organize movie screenings, and people regularly gathered in common areas, which they collectively looked after themselves. “I would like to implement those living standards in Georgia. The common areas in those buildings were very well maintained. There was strong interaction and respect between neighbors,” Vasil recalls.

In Vasil’s mind, people who choose to live in Sakeni – a complex that brings private and commercial spaces under one roof – are modern individuals who value comfort and the latest technology, maintain a healthy lifestyle and attach importance to a central location. Nevertheless, the project does not target a specific segment as a client group.

Through the first three projects, the development company Biograpi is starting to implement the best practices of urban coexistence in a modern living space. This will be the first independent experience of great importance for Vasil Pkhakadze, the successful implementation of which will give him the ambition and confidence to take on further large-scale projects in this field.

Photo Credits to Khatuna Khutsishvili / Forbes Georgia

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