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edition 10 (224)
October 2017
Investment & finance

Time for a little developing

Interviewer: Ewa Andrzejewska

Time for a little developing
How the student flats developed by Probuild in Wrocław will look

Probuild has announced that it is planning to build the Pin Park office complex in Wrocław. Does this mean the project management company will now be concentrating on development?

Jacek Trybusz, president of the board of Probuild: A generation change is taking place at Probuild. Firstly, from a company with one shareholder we have become a company that has a number of investors; secondly, we want Probuild to become a developer with its own place on the market in Poland and to grow organically rather than in a revolutionary manner.

What sectors are these projects in?

Actually, it’s not just the warehouse sector we work in. We are also continuing with our development operations in the office and residential sectors (following the successful completion of the Odkrywców estate with 220 apartments) and we are starting to work on student halls. We can draw on our long-term experience of the hotel market as well as our knowledge of the residential sector because they are quite similar businesses. We’re focusing on a group of clients that has not been very well looked after institutionally until now. In Wrocław alone there are 130,000 students, around 60,000 of whom come from outside the city. Around 15-20 pct of visiting students can be accommodated in the student halls of the universities and colleges. In Poznań things are similar. Only around 15-20 pct of visiting students can be accommodated by student halls. Our first project is in Wrocław and it will have over 200 rooms, 100 of which are to be in the first stage. They are being developed in a converted tenement house. Over 100 more rooms are to be in a new building. The first stage will be completed in October 2018 and the second one a year later. The general contractor is Castellum of Wrocław.

In what way will these halls stand out on the market?

We have a slightly different approach to student halls than other commercial players do because as well as micro-apartments with a bathroom and a kitchenette we also offer quite a large number of two-room units with an area of around 40 sqm, which share a bathroom and a kitchen. Also, each room can accommodate two people. Our rooms are meant to be suitable not only for VIP clients but also for the less affluent. There are a lot of students from Ukraine in Wrocław, who cannot afford to spend PLN 2,000 on accommodation but would still like to live in a nice place, surrounded by young people. Going back to the plan of the student hall – as well as rooms there is going to be a laundry and a café where cultural events can be staged, but we do not want to introduce additional services because the student hall will be in the city centre, which has plenty to offer. It will be managed by an operator called LAS or Living And Studying.

Are you planning to build hotels?

I’m not ruling that out but if we do, it will be based on our current practices, in other words we will act as the project manager – just like in the case of the Długi Targ in Gdańsk, a small hotel which we are building for Von der Heyden Group and which is to be completed at the beginning of December. However, we don’t want to be a hotel operator.

The company is preparing for a bond issue. Will the funds be used to finance student halls and perhaps even office buildings?

The funds we raise will be used to support Probuild, which means all of its projects: apartments, student halls as well as the construction of the Pin Park office complex. The financing of the first stage of the student hall has been secured with our equity as well as with a loan granted by Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego.

Where are the next student halls to be built?

Our student hall in Wrocław is the first but it won’t be the only one. We want to build another in Poznań, where we are headquartered. We’re also looking at the TriCity, where there are a lot of Scandinavian students. Then there is Kraków, Warsaw and perhaps even Bydgoszcz and I’m not ruling out another facility in Wrocław. We have a plot near Pin Park, opposite the WSB University. It might include a co-living project, in other words a student hall that’s not just for students. This would include small apartments with areas ranging from 25 sqm to 30 sqm as well as some communal areas. We came up with the idea because of the plot is located in Wrocław’s western business zone, where currently around 20,000 people work. And such accommodation might interest them. We are working on the design together with APA Wojciechowski.

What stage is the construction of Pin Park at?

We chose Strabag as the general contractor. We are preparing the plot for the launch of the construction work and we are negotiating the lease conditions with the anchor tenant, which comes from the IT sector. The construction work will probably start at the end of the year.

Will there be another residential estate after the first one you mentioned earlier?

We have a two-stage project called Wysoki Brzeg in Poznań, on the very banks of the river Warta in the Starołęka district. It is planned to include around 250 apartments. We have a building permit for a project designed by Insomnia of Poznań. It includes compact apartments with from two to five rooms. At the end of the year we want to start the apartment sales and construction of the first phase. The second stage should start one year later.

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