WBJ: You've been in the Polish market for nearly 15 years. Can you share some insights into the key changes you have observed in the real estate market during this period?
Since our debut on the Polish real estate market in 2009 with our first project – the multi-phase project Cztery Oceany in Gdańsk's Przymorze district, we have witnessed dynamic growth in the residential sector. Growing demand for housing in urban centers and on the outskirts has been driven by urbanization, demographic shifts, and improving economic conditions for Polish citizens. Over the past decade, it's been hard not to notice changes in architectural trends and the application of new construction technologies, which are evident in more recent projects (such as Wola Libre and WolaRe in Warsaw, where we pioneered innovative ground remediation work preceding the construction of new buildings). The Polish real estate sector has matured significantly, and customers now increasingly emphasize energy efficiency, sustainable materials, and smart solutions in their homes. Quality of execution and real estate-related services have become increasingly important to clients, motivating us to elevate project standards and customer service. Infrastructure development, including investments in new roads, communication networks, and the expansion of public transport, has increased the value of real estate in various regions of Poland. This, in turn, has prompted us to expand our operations to other Polish cities. We are already developing our second project in Wrocław since completing Bulwary Książęce – the Czysta 4 apartment building. In Poznań, we have completed the environmentally friendly Vilda Park development and are now building two new investments - Panoramiqa and, with our partner Revive, the multi-stage Cavallia project on the site of the former military barracks. With regard to changes in the Polish market, it is also worth mentioning that modern Polish cities are generating demand for sustainable mixed-use projects that combine residential, retail, and office functions. Examples of such an investment include the Cavallia project in Poznań or our latest project in Warsaw - Chmielna Duo, consisting of apartments and a green retail and service arcade connecting Chmielna Street with Złota Street.
Regarding your customer base, are Polish buyers and investors your main target audience, or do you also attract international buyers?
Investments carried out by BPI Real Estate Poland have garnered interest from a diverse group of buyers, both from Poland and abroad. The trend of market recovery observed in the last quarter of 2022 continues. Economic stabilization and the geopolitical situation have increased customers' confidence, including investors, in investing capital in the real estate sector. This, in turn, has contributed to increased interest in our investments. Currently, more than 95% of our clients are individuals purchasing properties with cash. This demonstrates their confidence and trust in the quality and investment potential of our projects. However, recently we have noticed the impact of the introduction of subsidized loans on the real estate market, including on the sales of apartments in our projects. This is particularly noticeable in the case of our Panoramiqa project located in the Starołęka district of Poznań. This positive change heralds a promising sales growth trend for the third quarter of 2023. Our offerings also attract investors and apartment buyers from abroad who recognize the potential and development prospects of the Polish real estate market. We are creating unique projects that deliver value for residents and the entire neighborhood.
With increasing emphasis on ESG regulations and sustainable building investments, how do you incorporate these aspects into your projects? Can you highlight some specific initiativesor features?
Principles of sustainable development lie at the heart of BPI Real Estate Poland's business strategy, and adhering to them forms the foundation of every development investment in our company's portfolio. We have already achieved significant milestones in this area. We are undoubtedly helped by the fact that BPI Real Estate is part of the Belgian CFE Group. In the previous year, our company (operating in three European markets: Belgium, Luxembourg, and Poland) utilized 17,795 tons of recycled materials in our investments, initiated the revitalization of premises spanning 25,535 square meters, and obtained permits for construction and constructed a total of 81,085 square meters of space without using fossil fuels. BPI Real Estate Poland's residential investments are a testament to our company's commitment to realizing ambitious plans here in Poland. In all our new projects, we implement eco-friendly solutions, such as green roofs, photovoltaic panels, ample bicycle parking spaces, and a rainwater harvesting irrigation system. Whenever possible, we preserve the majority of existing trees or plant new ones on our development sites. And also incorporate solutions such as nesting boxes for birds. Two of our recent investments, Chmielna Duo in Warsaw and Bernadovo in Gdynia, are being developed in accordance with BREEAM environmental certification at the Very Good level. In our Wrocław project, Czysta 4, we focus on recycling construction materials and reusing a portion of materials salvaged from demolishing a former shopping gallery historically located at that address, including elements of the stone façade. Elements that couldn't find a new purpose were recycled during demolition. Meanwhile, in the Cavallia project in Poznań, we are revitalizing former military barracks buildings, seamlessly integrating them into a unique multifunctional project.
Cavallia is the largest investment in your portfolio so far, yet it's not being carried out solely by your company but also in partnership with Revive Poland. What sets this project apart?
Indeed, the project stands out due to its scale – it's currently the largest endeavor by BPI Real Estate Poland, but its complexity also marks it in terms of multifunctionality. After all, on a 5.5-hectare site, in the center of Poznań, there will be modern office buildings and over 8,000 sqm of service and relaxation zones. Of course, the residential buildings with 850 apartments will form the most significant part of the investment. One of the critical aspects that makes Cavallia unique is the skillful integration of modern architectural buildings into the historical fabric of former cavalry barracks. Three historic buildings on Grunwaldzka Street will be revitalized and repurposed as well-designed office spaces. The stables and indoor riding arena will become cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and other public facilities. The investment comprises a total of 10 residential buildings. The first phase is currently available for sale, including four buildings with 269 apartments. This phase also includes two intimate buildings on the side of Matejki Street with apartments of a higher standard.
The land on which Cavallia is being developed, acquired in collaboration with Revive Poland, was once home to the renowned 15th Poznań Uhlans Regiment's cavalry barracks. To incorporate the history of the area, we launched the historiawartapoznania. pl project, which included, among other things, a series of films with historical reconstructions. This online platform showcases the heritage of this area that is so important for the residents of Poznań while also highlighting the remarkable energy of the place.
As you plan for further expansion and continue to invest in land acquisitions, are there still promising opportunities available in the big urban cities of Poland? How do you identify and evaluate such opportunities?
Poland remains a key market for BPI Real Estate. We are currently developing five ambitious projects that will deliver a total of more than 900 modern residential units to the market. We see the current pace of sales as confirmation that our projects enjoy the trust of our customers. It is a clear signal of the attractiveness of our properties to people looking for high-quality housing in convenient locations. There are still promising investment opportunities in major Polish cities. We aim to identify these promising areas through careful market analysis, trend research, and insightful assessment of customer needs and preferences. We have ambitious plans for the second half of the year. We are focusing our activities on acquiring new plots in the top end of the residential market in Poland and have applied for a building permit for another premium development located in Mokotów, Warsaw. We aim to start construction work on this prestigious project in Q1 2024. We are confident that our continued expansion and consistent investments in land acquisition will further strengthen our presence in the Polish real estate market while providing customers with exceptional living spaces that satisfy their expectations and aspirations. BPI Real Estate Poland's slogan "Urban Shapers" signified a strong vision for your company's projects. Can you elaborate on the actions or strategies you employ to bring this vision to life and positively impact the urban landscape? Our corporate motto is deeply rooted in the philosophy of BPI Real Estate Poland. As "Urban Shapers," we focus on actively
shaping urban space. An essential element of this vision is the concept of the 15-minute city. Investments like Chmielna Duo in Warsaw and the Czysta 4 project in Wrocław align perfectly with these principles. Future residents can conveniently and swiftly commute to work, school, or shopping. Executing thoughtful and functional projects in city centers contributes to the density of the urban fabric, which also positively impacts the environment. In the case of the Cavallia project in Poznań's Łazarz district, nearly all residents' daily needs can be fulfilled within the investment itself or via a 15-minute stroll. Similarly, the Bernadovo project in Gdynia and Panoramiqa in Poznań reflect our mission to create attractive living spaces through innovative, sustainable, high-quality development projects.