Top level tenant

Office & mixed-use development
Bars, restaurants and clubs on the roofs and top floors of skyscrapers are usually among the most popular entertainment attractions of a city. And more have recently started to appear in Warsaw. But do they make good tenants?

There are a few ‘top level’ clubs in Warsaw, such as the View in the Spektrum Tower, Level27 in Millennium Plaza and the Panorama Sky Bar in the Marriott hotel. A roof restaurant is to be opened in a building that is to be developed by Karimpol at the Rondo Daszyńskiego roundabout. Skybar, a restaurant and bar with an area of 798 sqm, is to be located at a height of 165m. So far we have not had a typical restaurant in the clouds. But this is about to change. There are plans to create such a place in one of the skyscrapers under construction in the centre of Warsaw. However, the investors behind the project are unwilling to disclose any further details at this time. So let’s wait and see.

High-rise pioneers

Wherever sky bars have already been opened this has only been possible thanks to the building having the right structure. “In order to open a bar on a uppermost floor or on the roof of an office building, you not only need to provide dedicated transport to the top, but you also have to make sure that it has all technological aspects in place. Such a project is extremely costly, but this is not driving interested parties away,” comments Renata Kamińska, a senior real estate negotiator at CBRE Poland. The View was opened in a building on ul. Twarda in the city centre that used to be owned by Telekomunikacja Polska. The president of the company had his office on the 28th floor and there were separate lifts leading to it, while there were also separate lifts between the roof and his study, where a helicopter landing pad was located (which is said to have never been used). After the building changed hands and was rebranded as the Spektrum Tower, it turned out that this was the ideal place for a club: separate transportation and two levels: the roof on the 31st floor and the former study on the 28th floor. Things were similar in the case of Millennium Plaza – a separate entrance from the side of the office building that leads to lifts that go to the roof. It was the ideal setting for a club that would (usually) open after office working hours. Level27 leases an area of over 300 sqm from the owner of the building – Atlas Estates. The View is even a better tenant, leasing almost 1,000 sqm. “The demand certainly exists for such locations. The View has been successful and the owner is still looking for premises where it could open new clubs in Warsaw. It is easier to prepare an area in an existing building because when there is no infrastructure ready, the problem is preparing it and sorting out the technological and technical, logistical and security aspects,” explains Renata Kamińska of CBRE. The openings of these clubs in the summer of 2015 had such an impact on the sky bar market that the Panorama Sky Bar in the Marriott hotel, which has the highest location in Warsaw, decided to renovate its interiors and spruce up what it had to offer.

For the benefit of clubbers only?

“Clubs in office buildings are nothing new. The Cinnamon club located in the Metropolitan office building on pl. Piłsudskiego was the pioneer in this field. Despite the fact that the club closed down a few years ago, it is still remembered as one of the trendiest places in the capital at that time,” says Piotr Capiga, a negotiator in the office department at Cushman & Wakefield, who goes on to add that club operators are now focusing instead on having spectacular views. “Both sky clubs in operation decided to rent space in buildings in the centre of Warsaw with very convenient access to the public transport,” he remarks. “Opening a restaurant or a bar on the roof of an office building has a few advantages for their owners. The office building can come to life after hours. Such an approach also extends the range of services and catering in the property and thus can contribute to promoting it. It is a convenient place for business and integration meetings for tenants,” points out Zuzanna Kowalczyk, a consultant in the office space leasing and tenant representation department at JLL. This is why the owner of Millennium Plaza took the decision to lease out its roof for a club. “The Level27 club adds value to the building and for its tenants as well as local residents. Tenants appreciate the availability of the café and shops on the ground floor of the office building and the opening of a new club on the roof complements the catering offer of Millennium Plaza. It could serve as the ideal place for business or private meetings accompanied by a cup of coffee,” explains Marcin Liberski, the sales and marketing director of Atlas Estates. The View was opened almost at the same time as Level27. “The View is the first club in Warsaw situated higher than the viewing terrace of the Palace of Science and Culture – The View has a height of 122m, while the Palace’s terrace is 114m,” says Paweł Bieńkowski, the club’s spokesperson. The creators of The View have also opened in New York and Miami. “We are definitely open to people. Our guests are from all over the city,” claims Paweł Bieńkowski.

Tenant with its head in the clouds

Warsaw’s first restaurant in the sky will be situated at the top of Karimpol’s Skyliner building. “Skybar is still the working title of the rooftop bar of Skyliner. We have not chosen an operator or specific brand name yet,” reveals Harald Jeschek, the managing partner of Karimpol Group. “It will be on two levels and capable of being arranged in a variety of ways, for example, as a restaurant and bar, or as event or representative space for our tenants. We have yet to decide on its specific functions, but we are planning for this to be public space, which is why it will have public access with its own lift to the top of the building,” he adds. Questions over the profitability of the Skybar on its own are not the main issue for Karimpol. “What counts more is the level of service and the distinctive features we are able to provide for the tenants of our building,” he goes on. “Many clubs and restaurants like this should be appearing in the next three or four years in Warsaw. The market is currently developing, but it is still quite shallow when it comes to high-end restaurants. What is needed for the development of this market is an announcement that another similar bar on the upper floors of a building is planned. That would start a domino effect,” predicts Renata Kamińska of CBRE Poland. Caterers in office buildings represent added value for the office tenants and more attractive leasing conditions. “On the other hand, the fit-outs for such tenants are often a technical challenge, requiring, for example, smell penetration prevention systems. Another issue that needs to be addressed is the security of the office tenants and allowing them to use their offices undisturbed. Still, restaurants and bars that match the building’s profile are ideal for promoting it,” says Zuzanna Kowalczyk of JLL.

Top level eatery

“Apart from canteens, Warsaw office buildings are increasingly often featuring other forms of catering. Bars, restaurants and clubs should be as close to the end user as possible, thus an office building appears to be potentially the ideal location. However, there are a few issues that need to be taken care of. If a club or restaurant is to be opened on the roof or on the upper storeys, you need to pay particular attention to soundproofing the area in order to insulate tenants and residents from the noise. Due to their specificity and shorter opening hours, restaurants are less ‘demanding’ in this respect. Apart from adequate soundproofing, the security issues require the owner of the building to separate the restaurants and bars from the office space, such as by having a separate entrance. The point is for no unauthorised person to be able to gain access to the office floors,” explains Zuzanna Kowalczyk. Representatives of tenants agree with office building owners that for a project to be successful a good operator is needed for such premises. “The operator has to be a proven and experienced company. If it is to be a restaurant, I can only see two companies in Poland that could take on this job, but because of the confidentiality clauses, I cannot yet name names. There is quite a lot of interest in such projects in Europe. There are certain investors who only invest in roof premises. Perhaps those that eventually open will operate under licence to a foreign chain. The cuisine of such a restaurant must also be well proven, but not too exclusive. A number of well known chefs would certainly like to open restaurants in the clouds, but there would be no mass interest in such a concept – except when the restaurant is not purely designed for selected guests with deep wallets,” adds Renata Kamińska. CBRE is at the stage of advising one investor about the development of the roof in their newly-built building. “There really is a lack of such premises in Warsaw. They exist in all the capital cities of Europe and there is no reason why Poland should not follow that trend. And maybe we will also have such an attraction in the TriCity soon...” says CBRE’s representative.

Able to does not mean want to

There are buildings that could have a restaurant or bar on their roof, but the owners don’t want this. “The floors in our buildings are exclusively reserved for apartments. They are a private zone insulated from the hustle and bustle of Warsaw,” explains Magdalena Budnik, the marketing director of Tacit Investment, the developer of the Cosmopolitan building on ul. Twarda. Fortunately for enthusiasts of clubs and restaurants in the clouds, there are only two exclusive apartment buildings in Warsaw, but there will be no shortage of office skyscrapers in the near future, with several currently in the pipeline.