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The Warsaw Voice » Real Estate » April 23, 2008
The Real Estate Voice
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Verity's Passion for Poland
April 23, 2008   
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Ali Dadressan, chairman of Verity Development, the Polish arm of international real estate concern Verity Group, talks to Agnieszka Domańska.

Verity Development is a springboard for many investors including Middle Eastern investment funds, banks and even the Saudi royal family to invest in Poland. What brings investors with such huge financial potential to Poland when they have the whole world to choose from?
We advise many different investors, including some Middle Eastern banks, whose shareholders comprise the most senior members of the Saudi Royal family.

We feel privileged to advise such important clients, particularly when you take into consideration the number of leading global advisors who compete to provide investment advisory services to such clients.

We continually strive to find excellent investment opportunities for our clients and as a part of this process, back in 2005 we analyzed the Central and East European real estate markets and decided to focus on Poland due to the country's economic potential which is driven by Poland's dynamic and educated workforce, and the significant demand for housing, retail and office space. Accordingly we established offices in a number of cities in Poland three years ago and our experience here confirms our earlier assumptions: Poland's talented and enterprising population will drive this country forward and we feel honored to be a part of that process.

I would also like to point out that we have offices in Belgium, Italy and Germany and we are active in those markets already. Within the next month we will be opening our office in Turkey and will soon expand into the Ukraine.

Were other Central and Eastern European markets also considered when Verity Development was looking to expand?
Our market research focused on a number of countries but we were seeking a market with potential for the long term and we believed then, as we do now, in Poland's long term future. This is reflected by the size of our presence here, which numbers over 150 professionals.

Are you thinking about expanding your operations into other countries in the region?
We are presently researching the real estate markets of the former Soviet republics and as stated above we plan to start investing soon in Ukraine.

What segments of the Polish real estate market is the company expanding into?
Verity Development develops luxury residential, commercial and retail projects. Seventy-five percent of Verity's projects here, covering 350,000 sq m of floor space, are concentrated in the high end residential sector but we are already active in all sectors of the real estate market other than the industrial and logistic sectors.

How would you assess the various segments of the Polish market in terms of investment opportunities and overall potential?
We believe that if you deliver location and quality there are opportunities across all real estate sectors, although given the significant amount of capital that has flown into Poland, profit margins have undoubtedly eroded and it is more important than ever to understand the market and create the right product, especially given the high level of sophistication of the end users.

Most foreign companies investing in real estate here first descend on Warsaw as they see it as Poland's most attractive city with the greatest demand and therefore the greatest opportunities for sizable profits and rapid expansion. Verity Developments, though, decided to start with Wrocław...
And Cracow. We took an entrepreneurial approach to our acquisitions upon our entry into Poland. We were able to acquire important central locations in Wrocław and Cracow. Warsaw has an extremely bright future and we intend to play a significant role in Warsaw's real estate market. We have established ourselves as a leading player in the Wrocław and Cracow markets and within the next two years we will match these accomplishments in Warsaw.

I would like to point out that Poznań and Lódź are also important markets for us.

Apart from those larger cities, is Verity Development planning any projects for medium-sized cities like Białystok, Zielona Góra, Konin or Łomża?
We are seeking opportunities in these cities, and while we are focused on delivering some important projects in the larger cities, we hope to acquire projects in these smaller, but nevertheless, important cities.

What sets Verity Development's housing projects apart from what other developers have on offer?
If I were to summarize I would say that our relentless focus on location, design and build quality set us apart from our competitors.

We cater for demanding purchasers looking for beautiful, high quality apartments in prime locations. Our target clients like to enjoy their cities‚ rich cultural life and make the most of their leisure time. We believe city center living will become more desirable in Poland due to the heavy demands of careers on modern day professionals and the regeneration of city centers as locations of leisure. All our projects enjoy excellent locations, and this can be either city centers or the most desirable residential locations such as park or riverside positions. We fully understand that some people may choose to live in more quiet surroundings, maybe next to rivers and parks and our portfolio of locations reflects this as well.

Design is of the utmost importance to us and accordingly we work with some of Poland's leading architects, including Professor Kuryłowicz, Mucha and Bulanda and Grupa 5 from Warsaw and Zbigniew Maćków from Wrocław. We also work with the world famous German architect, Professor Hans Kollhoff on the regeneration of Szkieletor, a high rise steel and concrete structure that has blighted the wonderful skyline of the beautiful city of Cracow since 1981. Kollhoff has previously designed high-rise projects in Berlin's Potsdamer Platz and indeed across the world.

With regards to design, both the physical appearance of buildings and the functionality of the interior layouts are key issues for us. We believe that we have a responsibility to create buildings that compliment, blend in with and enhance their surroundings and a great deal of thought and planning goes into that objective from our own experienced architects, as well as these leading external firms that I have mentioned above.

Our focus on location and design, and our acquisition of some wonderful locations in the Old Town districts of Poland's leading cities have resulted in a responsibility that we greatly value and relish, the revitalization of Poland's important historic city centers. Our aim is to create the perfect marriage of the classical and the modern and our efforts focus on creation of buildings that will be paragons of great architecture, buildings that will blend in seamlessly with their historical surroundings.

With regards to build quality, I am referring to such factors as the quality of building materials, the workmanship that goes into creating our buildings and the level of technical characteristics of our projects. We fully appreciate that buyers have choice and that we must deliver the right level of quality to attract clients.

There are other characteristics of the firm that sets us apart. We value the rich heritage of Poland's historic architecture and this is reflected by our acquisition and renovation of a number old tenement houses and historic buildings. We bring life back to these wonderful neglected masterpieces by creating new luxurious residential apartments and by providing highly designed retail space with original character within these historic buildings. We have already started renovating tenements in Wrocław, Cracow, Poznań and Łódź. We are creating something really hard to come by in these cities - beautiful, completely refurbished, high-ceiling apartments in old tenements. It is still rare for a single investor to own an entire tenement building in Poland and to completely renovate it so that residents can enjoy freshly restored stairwells, properly arranged courtyards, garages and common areas in a building that has state-of-the-art infrastructure like elevators, air conditioning and monitoring to ensure comfortable and secure living standards. We want to show the value of living in a magnificent historical tenement in a central location without sacrificing anything in terms of comfort and finishing quality. Renovating old buildings is something of a passion for us and we want to use it to speed up the redevelopment of previously neglected city center locations and save historic buildings from decomposition.
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