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‘A changing but buoyant market’

In the buoyant real estate market in Poland traditional sectors like retail are changing while alternative sectors are emerging, experts agreed at the CEE market – Unlocking the opportunities panel at the recent CEE Summit in Warsaw, which was organised by Poland Today and Real Asset Media.

The residential sector, for example, is set to change with the introduction of PRS (private rented sector) accommodation. ‘We see great demand for institutional providers of apartments for rent in Poland,’ said Peter Noack, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Zeitgeist Asset Management. 

‘We want to introduce resi for rent on a big scale and we have to develop the product because it doesn’t exist, so we are buying old buildings in good locations and converting them,’ he said. The sector is so promising that even the notoriously risk-averse German pension funds are investing in it. 

The banks are adopting a wait-and-see attitude, said Justyna Kedzierska-Klukowska, Head of Warsaw Office, Berlin Hyp: ‘The market is changing fast, but we need a certain critical mass and track record in order to invest in a sector, so we wouldn’t lend for PRS or student housing yet. Office, retail and logistics remain the core sectors, which we remain positive about’. 

Investor sentiment about retail may have changed, she said, but consumers have disposable income and are happy to shop.

Being successful in retail today involves constant change, said Leszek Sikora, Managing Director Poland, ECE Projektmanagement: ‘We manage 200 shopping centres and we believe they will still be there in 20 or 30 years, but we need to keep reinventing them and look beyond short-term trends’.

The changes involve combining online and offline, transforming the shopping centre into an experience platform, adding services and also adding a mixed-use element. 

‘We have created co-working spaces at the heart of our shopping centres in response to customer demand,’ Sikora said. ‘This attracts people to the centre and provides a customer base for our tenants. We call it intensifying the use of the space’.

In the best locations residential could be added to the mix. ‘We are open to incorporating resi schemes in shopping centres,’ said Noack. 

Student accommodation is another possibility, said Samuel Vetrak, CEO, Bonard: ‘We have done a student housing project in a shopping mall in Spain, but it is quite unusual. However, the sector is up and coming in Poland because of growing demand in the many University cities there are’. Another positive, he said, is that ‘zoning in Poland is much easier than in Spain or Germany’. 

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