Although it was put on the planning books in the earlier part of the 1900s, and no construction was allowed in this section of the city ever since, the actual plan was never implemented during Soviet times. A decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Yerevan decided to start building the avenue. The National Gallery and History Museum in Republic Square was never meant to be built where it was, according to original plans. Now the Northern Avenue will abut the building, rather than open up into Republic Square.
The cash strapped government could not afford to build the new avenue, so they decided to let private interests finance it. First the government bought up all the small properties along the route of the street, consolidated the land into larger, more buildable lots of land for high-rise developers, and auctioned those (now more valuable) lots off. This process was done section by section, and raised a great deal of complaints from the previous landowners who were not compensated at market prices - and whose land was being resold at much higher prices. They could not afford to buy the same sized homes anywhere near the center of Yerevan with the cash they were given. Coersion has been alleged, a lawyer for the previous landowners was arrested/held/then released, and some of the old landowners have promised to take the case to the European Courts.
Another controversial issue has been the dismantling of older buildings of architectural and/or historical significance. Many of these had their facade stone numbered and disassembled to be rebuilt elsewhere (most likely the first one or two storeys of high rise buildings on the Main Avenue - also under construction), but detractors maintain the flavor of the old city will be (or has been) lost forever.
The first section of the Northern Avenue, which is starting at the Opera, will be complete by the summer of 2006. The final section, next to the National Gallery in Rep. Square will be torn down in 2006 for construction to begin. The sections in between are in varying states of construction.