‘Historic buildings become mixed-use projects in Poland’

One sign the Polish real estate market is maturing is the attention being paid to heritage and period buildings, delegates heard at the ‘Revitalisation Projects – Generating the return on investment’ panel at the recent CEE Summit in Warsaw, which was organised by Poland Today and Real Asset Media.

‘The trend was to demolish existing structures and build a shiny new tower block,’ said Kinga Nowakowska, Member of the Management Board & Operations Director, Capital Park. ‘Now there is an interest in preserving and conserving historic buildings’.

One example is Norblina Capital Park in Warsaw city centre, which will bring new life to a 200-year old factory, restoring ten listed buildings and the old machines which will be housed in a special museum. The complex, which is set to open in 2021, will have retail, offices, a cinema, a rooftop restaurant and pedestrian walkways open 24 hours a day to become an integral part of the city.

The plan, said Nowakowska, is to create a leisure and entertainment destination and ‘find little brands that can’t afford to be in the big shopping malls, which attract people looking for something different’.

Another example is Monopolis in Lodz, where an old vodka distillery is being transformed into a mixed-use district by developer Virako. ‘There are offices but the heart of the project is retail, not a traditional shopping centre but more of a culture and leisure destination,’ said Anna Celichowska, Member of the Board and Leasing Director, Virako. ‘Historical buildings are an asset with great future value’.  

Scarcity of land is another reason behind the new trend, said Tomasz Trzóslo, Managing Director Central Europe, JLL: ‘People struggle to find land for development so investors will look more and more at rebuilding, refurbishing and repositioning existing buildings’.

There will be more mixed-use projects in the future and most of them will involve a residential element, be it apartments or student housing, he said: ‘Resi will become an increasingly important part of these schemes’.

People respond well to restoration projects, said Sean Tompkins, Global Chief Executive, RICS: ‘Residents like to live in a city with a story and a history and the built environment can tell that story, bringing new life to old structures’.

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