Yerevan’s Kentron District Kindergartens: 14 Closed and Sold Since Independence; Some to Former Government Officials
Since Armenia's independence in 1991, 14 public kindergartens have been liquidated and closed in Yerevan’s Kentron District.
Many wound up in the hands of government officials and their friends.
This investigation took longer than expected due to the governance crisis in Yerevan last year as a result of the “Velvet Revolution”.
Government responses to Hetq’s numerous queries were often repetitive and non-informative.
Nevertheless, Hetq managed to find out that after their liquidation, the kindergartens became the property of former officials and other citizens. Ex-mayor of Yerevan Gagik Beglaryan, for example, still owns four kindergartens.
There were 35 kindergartens in the center of Yerevan in 1996, while now, as a result of their liquidation, only 21 kindergartens function in the Kentron administrative district.
The property of the kindergartens was sold in 1996-2009, when Ararat Zurabyan (1995-2002) and Gagik Beglaryan (2002-2009) served as the Kentron District heads in the years noted.
The properties sold were mostly residential areas of multi-apartment buildings. Two of them had a separate building with a garden. Community Council members justified their decisions to sell the property by pointing to the lack of enrollment.
As of September 6, 2018, the number of children in queue for pre-school educational institutions in the Kentron District was 1231; in 2017 – 1364; and in 2016 - 1631. As of February 2019 , the number was 822.
The artificially increased number of children registered last year was because parents could register a child at several kindergartens simultaneously. Once the registry became electronic, this has been no longer possible.
Kindergarten #140 - Property of Gagik Beglaryan's Son
Until 2008, Kindergarten #140 functioned on the first and ground floors of the building at 3 Tamanyan Street.
Today, the territory of the kindergarten houses the Paulaner Beerhouse. In 2010, the Kentron District Municipality sold the territory of the kindergarten to Tigran Ghazaryan, who sold it to Beglar Beglaryan, the father of then Yerevan Mayor Gagik Beglaryan, a year later.
After Beglar’s death, Hrant Beglaryan, Gagik Beglaryan's son, inherited the territory and remains the owner. The site is now leased to Olympus 95 LLC, which operates the Paulaner Beerhouse. 15% of company shares belong to the former director of the All-Armenian Fund Ara Vardanyan.
Kindergarten #61 - Property of Gagik Beglaryan's Assistant
Kindergarten #61, located at 38 Tumanyan Street, was liquidated in 2003. It was housed on the first three floors of the building and occupied 600 square meters. Before the liquidation, in 2002, the community property of the kindergarten was leased by Radian LLC, after which it was sold to the same company.
After replacing Ararat Zurabyan as Kentron District head, Gagik Beglaryan appealed to the courts and returned the kindergarten’s territory to the community in 2003. Two years later, the district administration leased the territory and then sold it to Artyom Nersisyan. In the same year, Nersisyan sold it to Hamik Mkoyan, Gagik Beglaryan's assistant. For a while, it served as a Republican Party of Armenia headquarters.
Kindergarten #50 – Owned by Gagik Beglaryan's Assistant
Kindergarten #50, located at 37 Sayat-Nova Avenue, was united with the former Kindergarten #47 of the Kentron District in 2004. In the same year, the kindergarten's territory was leased to one Edgar Sargsyan, who purchased it later on. Edgar Sargsyan's property was then transferred to Hamik Mkoyan, Gagik Beglaryan's assistant.
Kindergarten #60 - Bought and Sold by Gum Market Director
Yerevan’s Noragyugh neighborhood also had a kindergarten, #60, which was liquidated in 2000. Today, the kindergarten's territory is fenced in. Satellite photos show that the kindergarten building no longer exists.
In 2010, the kindergarten's territory was purchased at an auction by Yerevan's No. 2 Market Director Vazgen Nahapetyan. According to press reports, this market, known as the Gum Market, belongs to Gagik Beglaryan, who was the mayor at that time and planned to resettle Noragyugh residents to create a business center in the district.
Beglaryan's intentions for buying a land plot were clear. Nahapetyan sold the territory to Arsen Ghalumyan later on.
Kindergarten #48 - Former Minister's Property
Kindergarten #48 operated at 8 Tpagrichneri Street.
The kindergarten was liquidated in the summer of 2000, and the property of the kindergarten was transferred to the district municipality.
Today, the office of Max Oil LLC and another private firm are located in the building, divided into two parts.
Max Oil is owned by Susanna Minasyan. The other part of the kindergarten, as a result of several transactions, became the property of Rafael Bagoyan. Bagoyan was the Minister of Social Security, Employment, Population and Refugees in 1995-96. Bagoyan received the property as a gift from his wife.
Kindergarten #127 - Today’s Mimino Restaurant
Kindergarten #127 was located at 7 Aleq Manukyan Street. By a decision of Kentron District Head Ararat Zurabyan, it was united with Kindergarten #47 (currently #8) in 1997.
Kindergarten #127 was then liquidated, and the property registered in the district balance sheet. In 2000, the Kentron District Council sold the kindergarten’s territory to Tauris LLC, which still owns the property.
Grigor Sukiasyan, aka Gloria Grisha (he had a casino named “Gloria”) is the sole shareholder of this company. Sukiasyan has leased the former kindergarten's premises to G N SPROOT LLC, which operates Mimino Restaurant at the same site.
Kindergarten #46 - Turned into a Private Pre-School
Kindergarten #46 used to function at 21/21a Sayat-Nova Street until 1997.
It was privatized by the Kentron District and sold to Ertman LLC in 2002. It’s since been owned by many individuals. Today, it houses a municipality-managed social assistance center and the Balu Pre-School where the fee for children's development programs varies from 30,000 to 70,000 drams.
Kindergarten #64 – Declared Public Domain Site
The dilapidated building of Kindergarten #64, located at 33 Leo Street ,is just behind the Covered Market on the Mashtots Ave.
The territory is fenced off and the gates are locked. The kindergarten building and densely constructed houses next to it were proclaimed “public domain” by a February 2009 government decree. The former building of the kindergarten has become the property of Armenia.
Kindergarten #36 – Today’s Ibis Hotel
Kindergarten #36, located at 15 Pushkin Street, was liquidated in 2003 by a decision of the Kentron District Council.
Two more kindergartens were liquidated by the same decision.
In 2007, the government declared the territory as “public domain”. It is impossible to find the former kindergarten today. The Ibis Hotel now stands at the site. The demolition of the kindergarten was inevitable, since the kindergarten's territory was included in the North Avenue construction project.
Kindergarten # 24 – Private Property Now Leased by L’Orange Café
Kindergarten # 24, located on the first floor of the building at 8 Moskovyan Street, lacked adequate enrollment in 1997.
It was on this basis that Kentron District Head Ararat Zurabyan decided to join it with Kindergarten # 40 on Mashtots Avenue. Afterwards, the Kentron District Administration divided the kindergarten's property into two parts and sold it. In 2008, Kima Poghosyan became the owner of the kindergarten area, united on the basis of the contracts of sale. The territory is now leased by L’Orange Café.
Kindergarten #162 – Private Property Under Lock and Key
Kindergarten #162 was located at 20 Saryan Street. It was liquidated in 2000. The kindergarten's territory was privatized and later leased. Doors to the site have been locked for several years.
Kindergarten # 53 - Turned into a Private Kindergarten
Eltaroz, a private nursery school specializing in foreign languages, now operates on the former kindergarten’s site located opposite the entrance to the National Assembly on Demirchyan Street.
The monthly tuition starts at 90,000 drams. In 2002, the government privatized the kindergarten and Eltaroz LLC purchased it.
Yerevan Brandy Factory Kindergarten
A kindergarten belonging to the Yerevan Brandy Factory used to operate in the Kilikia neighborhood of the Kentron District during the Soviet era.
It was also affectionately known as “Mrs. Nora’s kindergarten”.
It operated out of the first and second floors of a five-story building (Kilikia #3) in the neighborhood’s residential area.
Part of the land was privatized in 1995. By a decision of the Executive Committee of the Shahumyan Regional Council, it was registered under the name of former Managing Director of the Yerkrapah Volunteer Board Manvel Grigoryan. In 2001, Manvel Grigoryan sold the property.
The Yerkrapah Volunteer Unions (YVU) NGO territorial subdivision is now located at 20/4 Paronyan Street (the kindergarten’s former site).
In 2012, the Yerevan Municipal Council transferred the publicly- owned real estate to the YVU for free for five years.
When Hetq inquired about this real estate, the Yerevan Municipality launched a process of taking back the property from the Yerkrapah Volunteer Union.
Here, we have written only about Yerevan’s Kentron District.
Kindergartens have been closed in all the administrative districts of the Armenian capital over the past years. The same logic has been used to justify the privatization of the properties.
Hetq will continue to focus on the story of Yerevan’s closed kindergartens. In upcoming articles we’ll take a look at other Yerevan districts and see who owns the properties and what they’ve become.