Embracing life to the fullestSmall talk
Tomasz Cudowski, ‘Eurobuild CEE’: The design work of your flagship project in Poznań, Stara Rzeźnia, is soon to be completed. How are you going to develop this historic quarter?
Roger Andersson, managing director, Vastint Poland: The design work on Stara Rzeźnia is still ongoing and we hope to finish the process at the beginning of next year. We estimate that construction will start before the end of 2021. The project has an interesting and balanced mix of office, residential and retail functions, including in the historic buildings. We plan to restore the buildings of the former meat factory to their former glory and transform the area of app. 5.5 ha into a coherent urban complex in the city centre characterised by interesting architecture. Our project will offer access to all the elements that help you to embrace life and live it to the fullest. The estimated area of Stara Rzeźnia, comprising office, residential buildings and public space, will come to app. 70,000 sqm. We believe we will be able to develop the entire quarter at the same time.
What are Vastint’s investment plans for the near future and which sectors will you be focusing on? The diversification of your activities is considerable already.
Our latest investment plans continue to be diversified and mixed in terms of locations and functions. At the beginning of 2021, we hope to start three new projects. The first of these will be the continuation of Gdynia Waterfront with two office and two residential buildings. The new complex will also offer the most unique experiences. Life will be focused upon and around the central piazza, a community space — with a cinema, hotels, galleries, restaurants and premium boutiques and stores, all with spectacular views of the Baltic Sea. Our second undertaking will be Nova Silesia, our first development in Katowice, consisting of two office buildings and a Moxy hotel. The complex will be developed in the city centre on the site of the former Silesia hotel built in the 1970s. The new buildings, which will provide app. 30,000 sqm of high-class office space and 150 convenient hotel rooms, will make up an elegant section of the western wall of Katowice’s main square. The project will significantly add to the existing volume of office space in Katowice as well as to the life of this part of the city. The third development is the continuation of Business Garden Wrocław, adding another office building to the complex and a hotel. With such a large number of companies located in the adjacent complex, the hotel will be perfectly located. In addition, we have six other projects, including Stara Rzeźnia, the construction of which could potentially start by the end of 2021. These are mainly residential and office projects in Warsaw, Poznań and the TriCity.
Do you think the pandemic will permanently change the real estate market? If so, which sectors and in what way?
Whatever happens in the months ahead, it seems likely that the experience of living through the pandemic will have had some impact on the real estate market. Each of us has already experienced changes in the way we work and the way workplaces function. It’s possible to imagine two obvious scenarios. Office demand could grow due to companies’ need for more space for safety reasons, or demand could decrease due to the increase in working from home. However, the demand for flexible and co-working formats will continue to grow. At the other end of the spectrum, short-term fixes aimed at reducing the number of staff in the office together with measure to provide employees with a greater sense of safety may not be sufficient in the long run. I believe that office tenants will ask for a healthier and safer approach. The comfort and the air conditioning of office space will become even more important and developments with outdoor areas will have an advantage. With so much uncertainty surrounding the market, it’s unlikely that major refits will be undertaken anytime soon, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of design upgrades and modifications that would make future office buildings more pandemic-resistant.
Were you able to rest this summer? How do you usually charge your batteries?
I usually spend the summer at my place in Sweden. I recharge my batteries simply by being with my family and playing golf. It’s an amazing game that requires skill and a bit of luck, so that helps me to unwind.
What is your favourite city in Poland? and would this be related to the company’s investments?
I have several favourite cities in Poland and, yes, they just so happen to be related to our projects. How can you not like cities like Sopot and Gdynia? That’s where we have two successful hotels in the best possible locations – by the sea. Gdańsk is also on my list. As a matter of fact, we have recently completed the development of our first residential project there, Riverview, close to the old town square. My professional duties often require me to visit the TriCity and it is a lovely experience each time. My other favourite places are Wrocław and Poznań with their beautiful old towns. It is therefore a great honour to be able to develop the Stara Rzeźnia project close to Poznań city centre.