Polish exhibitors have been participating in EXPO REAL since its very inception. Poland is meanwhile leading the statistics of exhibitors from CEE countries. This is consistent with the country’s significance at the international level. Here are some fresh impressions of a trade fair and conference in Warsaw.
Investments in the capital, Warsaw, are still much sought after. Madison International Realty received much attention recently, when the company took a 50 percent share in the Warsaw Spire office tower. With the value of the tower, the highest office building in a CEE country, amounting to about €350m, this has been the biggest deal in Poland thus far this year. Helaba financed the spectacular tower together with two other banks for the Ghelamco property company, which developed the tower and still owns the other 50 percent.
At this year’s “Real Connect“ trade fair and conference, however, which was held near the Warsaw Spire at the Expo XXI exhibition center, Martin Erbe, Head of International Real Estate Financing Continental Europe of Helaba, also emphasized that the bank was focusing not only on Warsaw: “For example, Helaba also financed a shopping center in the city of Elblag in Warmia-Masuria.”
Investors are still focusing on the capital, but also increasingly engaging in regional centers. Here are just two examples of German investors: Union Investment Real Estate has invested in Warsaw and Poznan, but also in less well-known cities such as Konin and Rybnik. Warburg HIH Invest Real Estate has already acquired three properties in Wroclaw as well as one in Krakow. Matthias Brodeßer, Head of Transaction Management International, noted: “In Poland, apart from Warsaw, we have various ‘secondary cities’ on our radar and intend to make further investments there.”
Focus on regional centers
Wroclaw, Gdansk, Katowice, Krakow, Lodz, Poznan and Szczecin have become rather well known. In a workshop at “Real Connect”, however, three less prominent locations presented themselves: the city of Legnica, formerly Liegnitz, the City of Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki and an urban planning project from Warsaw in the immediate vicinity of the new national stadium in Praga on the right bank of the Vistula.
Nowy what? Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki is about 35 kilometers northwest of Warsaw center. Some people know the city without being aware of the fact. Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki boasts not only the Modlin fortress, but also the airport of the same name. This is the airport Ryanair uses for flights from and to Warsaw. Mayor Jacek Kowalski emphasized: “We are undergoing a transformation from a sleeping community to a city full of life.” This is also positive for the local real estate market.
Legnica, which has a population of about 100,000 and is thus one of the bigger cities in Lower Silesia, presented a number of projects, including the area of the former airport. After all, the city-owned grounds have an area of just over 100 hectares and are to be repurposed.
The capital is also polycentric
It is, however, not only the country which is polycentric, but also the capital itself. New centers have been and are still in the process of being created – e.g. in the Wola district on the Rondo Daszyńskiego. Piotr Sawicki, Deputy Director of the Department of Architecture and Planning of the City of Warsaw, presented some initial plans for the new use of an area right at the national stadium, which was built for the 2012 UEFA European Championship and is perfectly connected through one of the two Warsaw metrolines. It takes only a few minutes to get there from the old town or the Palace of Culture, where a new district with hotels, offices, retail stores and leisure facilities is planned on nearly 120,000 square meters. This will also include a multifunctional arena: The idea is to further upgrade the district of Praga.
It is already apparent how much Praga has changed. Not only the right bank of the Vistula has been made more attractive, but old industrial estates have also been converted. At the moment this includes the revitalization of the Koneser factory, which for many decades had produced vodka. Even before that, projects in Port Praski included residential properties. Another important topic in Praga is the revitalization of the old residential buildings, quite a few of which have been preserved.
Martin Erbe should be pleased, as he is currently closely monitoring not only office and retail properties, but also the residential property market. “In Poland, ‘resi for rent’, i.e. the construction of rental housing, is an exciting topic for the future, which is attracting the attention of more and more developers and investors”; says Helaba’s Head of International Real Estate Financing Continental Europe.