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Warsaw at MIPIM 2014

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Between 11 and 14 March the Capital of Poland will for the 16th time showcase its potential during one of the major international real-estate exhibitions. Warsaw will present itself as a rapidly changing city which has evolved over the last 25 years to become the modern metropolis it is today.

The main theme of Warsaw’s presence in Cannes this year will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the historic Polish elections of June 1989. Warsaw’s stand will present the extent of the changes that have taken place since that time. The MIPIM fair is an excellent opportunity to publicise the post-1989 projects which have already changed the face of the city, and those being implemented or planned that will shape its skyline in the future.

“Twenty five years ago we started by filling in the gaps in the infrastructure and building new structures so that we could function normally. Today our development efforts are aimed at shaping various areas of the city to lend them a whole new character. Clearly, one such city-forming project is the Warsaw Metro, which is readily visible in the Młociny and Wola Districts, but also, to my great satisfaction, more and more in the Praga District. These days we also put a lot of emphasis on investing not just in places but also in our residents to consistently enhance their quality of life,” said Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Mayor of Warsaw.

 

Warsaw, like the whole of Poland, has in the last few decades struggled to leave behind its complicated history and catch up with other major cities in Europe and on other continents. Most of the differences have been overcome. The Capital of Poland is increasingly seen as a model Central-European metropolis with an established position on the business map of not just Europe, but also the world. This metropolis is visited by thousands of people every day, from Poland and abroad, with a huge numbers of commuters from its suburban areas taking advantage of the integrated transport system. Warsaw is host to significant events and a venue for major decisions – it has hosted the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, EURO 2012, and the COP 19 Climate Change Conference.

“We see our visit to Cannes as more than just an opportunity to exhibit our real-property package – for us it’s primarily a tool for building and disseminating the perception of Warsaw as a modern and open city – a good place to live and work in,” explained Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz.

Over the last 25 years, after substituting a centrally planned economy with a market economy, Poland and its large urban agglomerations have undergone a dramatic change. From the very outset, Warsaw set high standards that have accompanied these changes. It has been and remains a leader in East-Central Europe.

Office space

Following the revolutionary wave of 1989, Warsaw lacked high-quality office space. At present, however, the capital’s commercial property market has some 4 million square metres of office space available[1]. The new trend, involving “green” construction, is becoming ever more established. In this respect, Warsaw has become the largest construction site in this part of Europe, with as many as 400 thousand square metres of “green” space. Once these projects are completed, Warsaw will become a regional leader, overtaking Prague in terms of “green” office space[2].

Demand for modern office space has been considerable for years, encouraging developers to undertake new investments. Within the next three years, available modern office space should reach a level of 5 million square metres[3].

This growing supply of office space has had a positive impact on rental prices and market competitiveness. Only last year 17 buildings, with a total area of 294 thousand square metres, were commissioned. Warsaw has overtaken other countries in our region and is now placed 11th on the European list of the most attractive commercial property locations, prepared by PwC and the Urban Land Institute[4].

Storage space

Warsaw’s macroeconomic and political stability, as well as its central location in East-Central Europe, encourage investors to opt for this region when it comes to building warehouses. Warsaw’s commercial zones already have 2.6 million square metres available, the largest area of storage space in this part of Europe[5].

 

Business services

Along with a rapidly developing property market, Warsaw also offers high-quality business services. Thanks to its excellently trained human resources and the flexibility of the Warsaw market in adjusting to business needs, the city has been placed as the fourth most business friendly city in Europe[6]. The latest Tholons ranking, classifying top outsourcing destinations, features three Polish cities, including Warsaw. As many as 3.4% of all outsourcing/off-shore sector jobs worldwide are located in Poland, which places us first in East-Central Europe, second in Europe and sixth in the world[7].

Warsaw is open to change and boasts qualified personnel, considerable development potential, and excellent office and logistics resources. It is the only European capital with such vast investment areas in the immediate city centre. Furthermore, a favourable price-standard correlation with regard to office space constitutes yet another advantage of this city. There are many things we can be proud of, including the highest relative safety level, the largest sales market in Poland, the highest percentage of people with a higher education, and also Poland’s best public transport system. In addition, business costs here are competitive when compared not only to those in London and Frankfurt, but also Budapest, Prague and Vienna.

The revitalisation of further areas

The more than adequate supply of attractive building plots and the increasingly sophisticated requirements of tenants searching for a unique package all contribute to the increased attractiveness of the city’s historic structures. Renovated older buildings are a guarantee of success, owing to their attractive location, unique atmosphere and prestige. This applies not only to office space, but also shopping centres. Some examples of such successful projects – completed, in progress or planned – are Fort Sokolnickiego, the Koneser Warsaw Vodka Distillery, the apartment house at 7/9 Próżna Street, the Warsaw Motorcycle Factory at 25 Mińska Street, the Ufficio Primo building at 62 Wspólna Street, the renovation of the Powiśle - Copernicus Square power plant, Art Norblin and the renovation of the Szuchów Family Palace[8].

For almost a decade now, Warsaw’s local authorities have been applying a systematic approach to the question of revitalisation. In 2005-2013, based on a thematic program, this revitalisation process encompassed more than 11% of Warsaw’s total area, home to nearly 31% of the city’s population. At that time, the sum allocated for revitalisation projects amounted to PLN 369,208,572. Twenty such projects have already been completed, and 37 more are being carried out. 2013 saw the inclusion of 80 projects for external benefactors.

Based on the experience gained during implementation of the previous program, a 2014-2020 Integrated Revitalisation Program is now being developed for Warsaw. In the upcoming years, funds and measures intended for city-wide revitalisation projects will focus on those areas included in the “City of Warsaw Development Strategy to 2020”, and the Local Revitalisation Program, these being in line with the city’s local planning policies. These areas include two zones – the city centre and Warsaw’s right-bank, i.e. sections of the Praga Południe, Praga Północ and Targówek districts.

In addition, more than PLN 6 million from sales of alcoholic beverages (the so-called cork tax) has been allocated for local support systems under social revitalisation in the period from 2013 to the first half of 2015.

Residents ask and decide

Last year the city launched more public services, engaging residents in the city’s affairs. Since November, Warsaw residents have been able to call the new Contact Centre on 19115. By dialling just one number, they can make enquiries on applicable procedures, report faulty street lighting or uncollected waste.

Thanks to participatory budgeting, this year Warsaw residents can for the first time decide on spending by particular districts. Under this scheme, residents can submit proposals for local projects, i.e. projects concerning the needs of selected areas within their districts, and also district-wide projects that address the needs of more than just one territorial area of the city. These projects can address many areas: health, sports, leisure, education, culture, public transport, environmental protection, social welfare, public spaces, green areas, etc. The projects in question can involve investments, such as the construction of a cycle route, a playground, installing street lights or may be of a nature not related to investments, e.g. extracurricular lessons, street fairs, etc. Warsaw’s junior residents can also submit their ideas for changes to their surroundings – simply by attaching the consent of a parent or legal guardian to the proposed project.

Local initiatives are yet another form of cooperation between local government and residents. These consist of joint implementation of public tasks for the benefit of the local community. When residents have an idea for a specific and important endeavour to be carried out in their neighbourhood, they can file an application with the city authorities and the idea may be carried out jointly.

Modern, sustainable transport

Promotion of public transport has been for several years one of the fundamental principles of the Warsaw Transport Strategy. The capital was the first Polish city to introduce hybrid vehicles into its fleet, with the first one being put into service on Warsaw’s streets in 2012. Last year saw the testing of other vehicles powered by alternative energy sources. The capital has already placed an order for 35 LNG-powered buses, and a tender for the supply of 10 electric vehicles is underway. Since 2007, the city has purchased a total of over 800 state-of-the-art buses.

The city metro and high-speed rail service (Szybka Kolej Miejska) are fast and convenient means of transport. Half a million passengers use the underground every day. At the MetroRail2012 Conference in March 2012, Warsaw’s Metro was awarded a distinction in the Best Pro-Ecological Initiative category.

In August 2012 the Veturilo Warsaw Public Bike System was launched, and since then has enjoyed tremendous popularity, with as many as ca. 1.8 million rentals being recorded. Warsaw offers its residents nearly 312 km of cycle routes, which make travelling by bike and sightseeing a breeze. What’s more, the city is also preparing a system of public car rentals. The main premise behind this idea is to encourage city residents to forgo maintaining their own cars and use open-access car rental points. Those using this system will be exempt from parking fees within metered parking zones. Initial forecasts anticipate that the users of the system will be able to take advantage of several or even several dozen types of vehicle.

New space by the Vistula

Over the last seven years, the banks of the Vistula have changed drastically. Once desolate and unattractive, they have become a popular and frequented place for leisure and fun. The city’s previous strategy concerning this area has been deftly combined with investments worth several million, such as modern boulevards constructed on the left bank, along with those of lower value, but equally successful, including the right-bank educational path and municipal beaches that have been furnished with deckchairs and sports equipment. Currently, there are already four such beaches in the city, featuring free sports equipment rentals, deckchairs and roofed wicker beach chairs. Canoes can now also be rented at specially designed mooring piers. During the summer season, an open-air reading room full of interesting publications connected with Warsaw is also open. From spring to autumn, approximately 20 coffee houses operate on the Vistula’s banks. This year will see the opening of a new venue on the right bank, just next to the National Stadium – a new café will be opened in a modern pavilion that affords breathtaking views of the river all the year round. The Czerniakowski Port, which in recent years has undergone complete renovation, is another new area opened to the public. Many indispensable works have been carried out, not only increasing the convenience of those using the area, but also ensuring the safety of its visitors. The port’s basin has been dredged and deepened to dock various vessels. Also the embankment, badly damaged by high water levels in 2010, has been braced. Also the berths for vessels have been connected to basic utilities, including water and sewage systems. This coming season new piers will become available to facilitate docking. It is also worth mentioning that a Veturilo public bike rental station has been opened in the port’s immediate vicinity.



[1] A WRF Report summarising Q4 on the capital’s office market.

[2] “Going Green In Eastern Europe”. A report by Jones Lang LaSalle

[3] A report by Savills

[4] “Emerging Trends In Real Estate Europe 2014”. A report by PwC and the Urban Land Institute

[5] The Q3 2003 report by Jones Lang LaSalle

[6] “European Cities & Regions of The Future 2012/2013”. A report by FDI

[7] “Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore: Unsure?” A report by Jones Lang LaSalle

[8] The “Commercial history” article on propertynews.pl

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