Retailers gunning for Gdansk Young City

4 retail heavyweights, ECE Projektmanagement, TK Development, Segece and another un-named company, are all involved in the pre-development phase of the 'Gdansk Young City' project's c. 10-hectare retail section. The involvement of any of these companies would provide a shot in the arm for this ambitious mixed-use urban regeneration project in the Gdansk Shipyard.

The sheer scale and ambition of Synergia 99's 'Gdańsk Young City' urban renewal scheme, plus the fact that it isn't in Warsaw, has given strength to those who believe it won't get past the drawing board. But behind the scenes progress is ongoing, says Janusz Lipinski, President of Synergia 99, the project's co-ordinator. ,We are already in detailed discussions with four big names in retail" he confirmed, although he refused to reveal who these companies were. Eurobuild, however, has learnt that Denmark-based TK Development and Germany-based ECE Projektmanagement are certainly involved, and a consortium led by France-based Segece - a subsidiary of French shopping centre owner/operator Klepierre, which has one shopping centre in Central Europe, in Bratislava - is the probable 3rd participant, although Eurobuild was unable to get confirmation of this. We have not been able to discover the identity of the 4th participant.
TK Development revealed their design proposal, by architecture firm Aukett Polska, at a workshop organised by Krakow-based architect Romuald Loegler for Synergia 99 in mid-February. London-based architects Chapman Taylor were scheduled to reveal their design on behalf of Segece at the same workshop but didn't do so, although it has since been handed to Synergia.

Groundless worry

One concern all the retailers have voiced is the worry that they will be going ahead on their own should their proposal be accepted. This worry, says Lipinski, is groundless. ,We are expecting to progress with 3 flagship projects simultaneously. These will be the retail section, the office section and the hotel and conference section. We may also go ahead with an apartment project," he said. In total Synergia 99 claims to be currently speaking with 16 groups for the entire scheme, which is divided into 27 plots. At an early stage an architect or architecture firm was pencilled in for each of the sections, with the names of prominent architects Lord Foster from the UK and Richard Meier from Germany put down for design of 'Solidarity Square' and the 'Solidarity Centre' respectively. Many of these 27 plots will not be tackled until the early parts of the project are underway. The retail plot, located on the southwest edge of the 'Young City' (and the largest of the plots), can progress independently of the rest of the project due to its accessibility to the city and access to essential utilities.
Local masterplan approval needed
The most problematic element in the near future is gaining approval for the new local masterplan, which will soon be presented to the Gdansk city council. Lipinski is confident this will go through without serious opposition, but with nationwide municipal elections coming up, probably in September, the timing is out of his hands. As well as this, the draft of the local masterplan must be sent to municipal departments for authorization, and the impact analysis for the retail section must be completed. A possible time framework for progress, says Lipinski (although he admits it errs on the optimistic side), could be as follows: Draft of local masterplan received back from municipal departments - May 2002; LM-P offered to public viewing - July 2002; LM-P approval - end of 2002; first building permit granted - end of 2003; construction start - beginning of 2004; opening - before the end of 2005.

Local support

According to journalist Maciej Goniszewski of local paper 'Głos Wybrzeza' (Voice of the Coast), the 'Young City' project enjoys public support, although for more practical reasons than its organisers might wish: ,People are keen on this project because it will make it easier to get from one part of the city to another. But people tend to think it is a long way off in the future. Nevertheless, people are positive about it - they don't regret the passing of the shipyard, which we call the 'cradle of Solidarity'.