A $150-million-plus Chinese real estate and tourism deal that is slated for a suburb of Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, is creating a quandary for many Georgians. The project is feeding a long-standing desire for foreign investment, but it is also stoking wariness about foreign influence.
Set against a broad backdrop of crumbling, Soviet-era apartment blocks, the project -- run by the Hualing Group, a privately owned, Xinjiang, China,-based company with banking, timber, and hotel investments in Georgia – is projected to remake about 420 hectares of land in the working-class district of Vazisubani.
In the first, $150-million phase, housing will be built on four hectares for the European Youth Olympic Festival, an event of young athletes from 48 European countries that Tbilisi will host in 2015. A subsequent step is expected to include a retail and residential area, to be built at an unknown cost.
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Molly Corso is a freelance journalist who also works as editor of Investor.ge, a monthly publication by the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia.