Ten years is the first big anniversary of our cottage community. It's time to go back and recall how it all started. Volodymyr Tymochko, curator of this project, managing partner of Dragon Capital, who stood at the origins of Green Hills, told us about it in interview below.
How did you come up with the idea of an American cottage community and why did you choose this concept?
Managers of Dragon Capital came up with this idea in 2008. As travelers they noticed that there are no Western style cottage communities in Ukraine at all.
American neighborhoods look very cozy and have a number of benefits. First, neighbors communicate often because there is no high fences between sites. Secondly, residents feel more secured. Thirdly, there is plenty of space for a joint rest of children. This was Green Hills’s "unique selling proposition" in addition to other benefits: high level of service, developed infrastructure, quality and construction rates.
Such concept was very courageous. We did not know how Ukrainians would perceive it. In the end it became a kind of filter. We really enjoy the portrait of the Green Hills resident now. They are business owners and top managers, families with children and with true family values, travelers and people with active lifestyle.
This concept became even more understandable and popular over the years. Other companies on Ukrainian market developed similar cottage communities. So we are happy to influence on the entire Ukrainian property market.
What difficulties did you encounter when implementing the project?
At the beginning we did not know how much difficult the implementation would be. We did not realize that absolutely everything would have to be created from scratch: infrastructure, engineering, service, landscape.
For example, in order to provide the required amount of water for houses and sufficient watering of large common areas we developed a whole network of wells located throughout the town and created a system of water purification, which made water drinkable and sufficiently clean for technical needs. It required huge investments.
Green Hills had no analogues in Ukraine at that time. Our contractors did not know how to work with some needed solutions. The implementation of Western technologies was also complicated. There were often no certification and service of such equipment in Ukraine. Therefore, we searched for a balance between efficiency, modernity and realization. The decisions were taken by the project team, and the relevant contractors who were familiar with international standards and advanced technologies were involved as consultants.
Tell us about the investment in Green Hills and the pace of project implementation.
British company Dragon-Ukrainian Properties & Development plc (DUPD) is the project investor. The company invested in Ukrainian projects from 2007 to 2010. The manager of DUPD is Dragon Capital.
In 2013, DUPD adopted a new investment strategy, which stipulates the completion or sale of all started projects in Ukraine. The company allowed the manager to reinvest all sales proceeds in order to continue the implementation of the initiated projects. Thus, the sales in Green Hills determines the pace of building the cottage community and its infrastructure. Sales increased threefold after the opening of the Britannica School. DUPD invested in Green Hills more than $30 million and did not received dividends from the project at all.
How do you rate the position of Green Hills on Ukrainian market?
There are several projects in Kyiv region similar at their level to Green Hills. But we do not feel the competition and this is a problem. Firstly, Ukraine economy is still in a state of recession. Therefore, there is a lack of investments in the country, as well as a lack of investors and low competition. Secondly, the solvency of population is low.
Green Hills won the prestigious EE Real Estate Project Awards in the category Cottage Complex of the Year 2017. The best recognition is that almost 50% of new buyers come on the recommendation of our residents.
How was the Service Company created?
It was hard to create an appropriate high level service. The quality of living in a cottage community largely depends on how comfortable your daily life and household processes are. It is important to know that your family and your home are in good hands.
First we tried to find a private service company. But it appeared that there were no contractors on the market. The business of independent service companies is more complex and less profitable than development. Also it is secondary, as it develops when a large number of developer projects appear.
Finally we created our own service company. We knew that it would not be profitable for the period of implementation. So we annually sponsor the service company, develop our staff and hire the best professionals. I think the service company will improve its work and become financially autonomous in the future.
What are the plans for the development of the city in the coming years?
We opened the second building of the school In September 2018. The fitness center with a spa-zone and 2 swimming pools is in progress. We consider the possibility of building a car wash and cozy restaurant on the territory of the cottage community. We hope to complete Green Hills in 3-4 years.