Treasure Island

Wyspa Spichrzów (Granary Island), one of the best-located parts of old Gdansk, is currently a mix of ruins and shrubs. Moves are underway, however, to turn it into a buzzing riverfront area with two hotels, elegant flats and a marina. The investors are WSC Investment and Mennica Invest.

The Americans in Gdańsk

Seven years ago, when an American company called Genesis Hotels came to Gdansk and said they wanted to build a hotel on Wyspa Spichrzów, the city authorities were euphoric. Together with the local borough, Genesis established a joint purpose company called 'Genesis Hotels Gdansk' to build a hotel on the 7,200 sqm plot, of which 4,900 sqm belong to the Americans, and 2,400 sqm was an in-kind contribution by the city authorities. Unfortunately, however, Genesis didn't have the required deep pockets. Deadlines came and went and finally the would-be investor put the land up for sale and it has remained so ever since

New money

A few weeks ago, however, Polish company WSC Invest bought a 92% stake in Genesis Hotels Gdansk. The remaining 8%, which belongs to the borough, is about to be purchased by Mennica Invest after it won a tender organised by the Gdansk authorities. How much Genesis charged for their shares is not public knowledge, but it is known that the city sold its plot for PLN 2 million, or c. USD 200 sqm. On the site the new investors intend to develop two hotels, one of which will be upper range and the other two-star, as well as residences, small retail developments and a sailing marina. ,The marina is very important to the authorities so we will certainly finance it, although it won't be very profitable for us. But it will enliven the whole neighbourhood", declared Sławomir Ambroż, President of WSC Invest. The whole investment, believes Janusz Ciesielski of MI, may be worth between EUR 130 to 150 million. To accomplish the scheme Mennica Invest and WSC Investment have set up a development company called 'Wyspa Spichrzów', and, as the name suggests, the ownership of the whole island is their aim. ,We are conducting advanced negotiations with the city concerning purchase of the remaining 33,000 sqm of the island," said Ciesielski. ,The land belongs to the city and other parties, but we have actually come to an agreement with them".

Political support

Ryszard Gruda, vice-president of Gdansk, says he is happy that a wealthy Polish investor will be behind the island's re-generation. ,Although neither Mennica nor WSC are experienced in this type of project, they do have necessary funds, and that counts", says Gruda. Representatives of various political parties have set aside their differences and are supportive. Eugeniusz Węgrzyn, an SLD city counsellor, agrees with the vice-president. ,The most important thing is that the island shouldn't frighten people anymore".