March 10, 2014 4:56 pm

The challenges of moving offices in Moscow

MEBE One Khimki Plaza

Built to spec: MEBE One Khimki Plaza is the first high-grade office building in Moscow’s Leningradsky district

Over the past seven years, two office moves have had a radical effect on the culture and ultimately the development of MEBE.

In 2007, we made the first significant move when we took an entire floor in the business centre of the historic Stanislavsky Factory in Moscow, which includes the restored theatre where Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard was first performed.

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As the main contractor on the residential part of this redevelopment, it was beneficial for our team to occupy a building on a project with which we were so closely tied to, as well as to obtain first-hand experience of the benefits of a mixed-use development.

Until that point, MEBE had been located in a small administrative building on Krasina Street, near the Belorusskaya metro station. We were quickly outgrowing the offices in terms of space, but had also realised that, the office did not reflect the ambitions we had for the company.

With Stanislavsky, we were able to fit out the building according to how we intended to use it and, as the ultimate tenant of the space, our team was able to gain valuable insight from the “client” perspective. If we made a misjudgment, we had to live with it. That makes you learn quickly about how to improve.

Obviously, having a relationship with the building owner influenced our decision, but one of the most important reasons for choosing our office was transport links. The Stanislavsky building is well located within walking distance of four metro stations and the Garden Ring road that encircles central Moscow.

We need the best people and it is always easier to attract them to an area that is easy to get to.

On to the second move. I am a civil engineer and since the very beginning of MEBE, I always dreamt of constructing and owning my own office. I wanted a building that could be built to my specifications and be a great place for our team; somewhere that was elegant but also comfortable and cosy.

When we began, this was just a dream. But in early 2013, we started building our own headquarters – MEBE One Khimki Plaza – and are currently in the final fit-out stage before our 200 staff relocate in May. The building is located in Khimki, a dynamic and rapidly growing international business district just northwest of the city, with excellent accessibility to both international and Russian business markets (7km to Sheremetyevo International Airport, 20km to central Moscow).

Not only is this building our first “own home”, but it is also our first commercial real estate development project. It is a 19-storey office topped by a helipad. The building offers immediate access to a range of services, including: chauffeured limos, valet parking, charging units for electric and hybrid cars, a five-star concierge, canteen and café, beauty salon, florist and newspaper stands and bank machines.

Unusually for Moscow, it is also constructed in accordance with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold international “green” certification requirements. We wanted this building to be one of the greenest in Russia. All the business complex systems are designed to provide an ideal comfortable office environment: total sound and thermal insulation, “smart” heating, cooling and ventilation systems.

A complimentary MEBE shuttle bus transfers staff between the complex and Rechnoy Vokzal metro station and by sidestepping the general congestion of Moscow traffic, some of our staff are cutting 15 hours off their weekly commute.

MEBE One Khimki Plaza is our first experience of major development – as opposed to construction – and the first high-grade office building to grace the area of Leningradsky. With new infrastructure earmarked, on the back of nearby fast-growing Sheremetyevo airport, we hope it will be the first of many developments in the area.

Whatever happens, we will have had the satisfaction of being able to move into an office built with our very own hands.

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Mustafa Bilek is president of MEBE, a Russian construction and development company

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