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Armenian Businessman Escaped Taxes By Constructing Apartment Building ‘At Citizens’ Request’

Residents of the old apartment buildings at 23, 25 Teryan St. and 37 Lalayants St. on Northern Avenue in downtown Yerevan marched on Thursday, July 23 toward the RA Presidential Residence; the citizens passed on a letter to Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan demanding authorities not to demolish their buildings. In addition, they submitted the 18,043 signatures in support of their demand, gathered during a month-long petition

These buildings were the first skyscrapers in Yerevan; more than 50 famous intellectuals had lived here, Vardan Geravetyan, resident of 23 Teryan St. and spokesperson for the residents' concerns, told reporters at the beginning of the march. Therefore, according to him, the buildings represent historical and cultural value.

Geravetyan recalled that Samvel Mayrapetyan, owner of Local Developers company, has filed a suit against the residents asking the court to oblige the citizens to leave their apartments on Northern Avenue within two months as the Armenian Government has announced the territory eminent domain. The residents, in turn, have filed counter-suits demanding recovery of their right to private property. 

Although investigation into a number of cases still continues, Armenian courts have already issued several verdicts in favor of the company. The court, as stated by Geravetyan, has allowed a number of violations. Particularly, Arpine Zargaryan, the judge handling Geravetyan's case, has denied his motion to involve a lawyer. 

Samvel Mayrapetyan, Geravetyan said, has also violated obligations towards the residents prescribed by law: the owner has delayed the construction process, giving the citizens the right to sell their apartments to other buyers. However, the people have been deprived of this opportunity: they have received letters saying that they could not sell their apartments to anyone except Local Developers company.

“Since 2007, Mayrapetyan has been given exclusive rights to construction. He could have finished the entire process from March 1, 2007 to January 1, 2009. Decision deadlines have expired twice. In addition, Mayrapetyan claims Pushkin 30/1 apartment building has been built at our request, specifically for us. Later, it turned out that there was a very serious subtext: thanks to this, he was relieved of paying taxes. Based on our calculations, Mayrapetyan failed to pay about AMD 200 million to the city budget,” Geravetyan said.

According to the project, the spokesperson stressed, the building should have had 12 stories; instead, a 14-storey building was built, while some of the residents were dissatisfied with the housing conditions and did not want to get an apartment there.

Citizens are also dissatisfied with the price offered by the developer for their apartments: "According to law, they have to pay the market value plus 15% in compensation. Excluding the 15%, the average price is USD 750 per square meter. This is unprecedented. My 81 square-meter apartment, for example, has been estimated at AMD 35 million drams (USD 71,000),” Geravetyan stated.