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Standing tall with the giants

Tomasz Szpyt-Grzegórski 06 November 2019

Tomasz Szpyt-Grzegórski

Deputy editor in chief, journalist

+48 22 356 25 21

Tomek is a journalist and editor with many years of experience. He has been covering the real estate market since 2006. His main fields of interest are the investment and office markets as well as urban development. He also edits the magazine’s Facebook and twitter pages (@TomaszSzpyt). His articles have appeared, among others, in Dziennik, DGP, GazetaPrawna.pl, Forsal.pl, Dziennik.pl, Newsweek.pl, WSJ Poland and The City. In his free time he likes reading, cinema and rollerblading

Standing tall with the giants
Anna Celichowska, the leasing director at Virako, talks of the changes on the Łódź office market

POLAND We talk to Anna Celichowska, the leasing director at Virako, about operating on the Łódź office market, its prospects and the developer’s plans.

EurobuildCEE: How does a local developer compete with companies that operate nationwide? Anna Celichowska, the director of leasing at Virako: I am happy that large companies operate in Łódź, especially because they are often international players. This proves the city is attractive and signals to investors that Łódź is a location that they can consider for their new projects. There is something else to consider and it’s not just about the specifics of the Łódź market. I am talking about the way local companies create trends. I can see that they pay much more attention to how they set up their projects; they have a feeling for the location, the actual needs of residents and the identity of the city. These are factors that are of key importance in developing successful projects. These days office buildings are not just simply built but it’s more that workspace is created. In this regard I can see the advantages local companies have over large players. For example, ten years ago it was Virako that delivered the first A-class office building in Łódź – Forum 76, which was built when no developers with nationwide coverage were operating in the city. Despite the times being quite difficult, the building was leased and sold.

The entry of large developers, however, has resulted in an increase in the supply of office space. Is this now a problem in Łódź?

Indeed, we are now dealing with a huge jump in the supply, which has resulted in the vacancy rate rising by several percentage points. However, looking at the development of the market gives no cause to worry– developers are watching the sector and have always had some control over the levels of future supply by changing delivery or construction launch dates. You also need to bear in mind that the market in Łódź is not very big – it’s around 500,000 sqm, so even the vacancy rate that we currently have of around 12 pct does not mean that there is a large amount of free space.

Coworking companies that provide flexible workspace are responsible for the high demand on the office market in cities such as Warsaw. Is it the same in Łódź?

Yes, this is a growing trend across Poland, including in Łódź where both local as well as national companies now operate. There is no turning back – flexible space reflects a change in our lifestyle and is a response to the expectations of many teams for greater flexibility in their work so it is definitely desirable to put aside a part of a project for this kind of space. However, it is worth thinking about what the limits are and how much space should optimally be designated for coworking. Such space is still a new phenomenon on the market and time is needed to see what will happen in a changing market.

Virako is now completing construction work on its Monopolis project. When is the opening planned and how have potential tenants reacted to this project?

We are about to finish. The first tenants are going to move in this December.

Does that include Clariant?

Yes. I don’t think this is a surprise. Clariant is a company with a modern corporate culture, which follows the latest lifestyle and work trends. It is a company that wants to create a friendly workplace for its employees – not only through design but it also wants to create a space that supports its employees in their own development. Monopolis is very much fits in with this philosophy. It is also no coincidence that this is a Swiss company and so it pays a lot of attention to many different things including office rental.

Did they have any special requirements as to the final appearance of the office?

You will see soon. Right now, I can say that it is going to be a unique space and will be one of the most elegant, not only in Łódź but also in Poland. The project is being coordinated by a reputed design studio that is known for its art deco style. The industrial interior of the building also allows for unique office arrangements.

Clariant has leased 5,000 sqm of office space. What about the rest of the building?

As for the office space, around 70 pct is leased while the retail, service and food areas are about 50 pct leased. We are still in negotiations and the leasing levels will rise with the completion of the first stage of the project. The first stage is to include the former factory buildings and a total of over 10,000 sqm, including a three-storey building with ​​7,200 sqm of office space.

But Monopolis is not just about offices...

That’s right. We are creating a place that is to be open to all Łódź residents. We are focusing on two areas – the food space, where we will have a tenant mix that will create a pleasant atmosphere and a culinary experience for those who spend their time. We are going to invite potential tenants with original concepts and various types of food so everyone will be able to find something for themselves. The second section is to be the entertainment and recreation space, which is not often included in office projects. The heart of this zone will be the theatre in a converted warehouse building formerly used for storing rectified spirit. Renowned Łódź actor Kamil Maćkowiak and his troupe will take up residence there. There will also be small concerts, cinema screenings and other events, including business conferences and company meetings. The area will also include a museum – it will be a place dedicated to the history of rectified spirit and the people who created it. A section will be taken up by a gallery – a public space to exhibit works of art including posters, photographs, paintings and sculptures. This place is meant to be alive so a new exhibition is to be put on every month.

When will the second stage be launched?

The project has another two stages and we will announce each one when the time comes. Currently we are focusing on finalising the first stage and we are in negotiations with more potential tenants for the complex.

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