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The Warsaw Voice » Real Estate » March 4, 2009
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Breathing New Life Into The Capital
March 4, 2009   
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Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, mayor of Warsaw, talks to The Warsaw Voice.

What are Warsaw City Hall's plans in the short term for revitalizing the city?
Our plans include building a friendly urban space in the city center's strategic areas and in most Warsaw districts. We have defined crisis areas in individual parts of the city and priority initiatives aimed at re-creating, modernizing and strengthening the areas included in the revitalization process. Warsaw will spend over zl.300 million up to 2013 on revitalization. We will be working on about 10 percent of the city, where a third of Warsaw's population lives. Key downtown plazas will change, but also local yards, parks and buildings in 14 of Warsaw's 18 districts.

What is in the pipeline for this year?
We will continue revitalizing the Royal Route along Ujazdowskie Avenue, where key public institutions, embassies and Warsaw's most beautiful parks-including the famous Łazienki-are located. Construction work will start on the main street of the Saska Kępa neighborhood-Francuska Street, which stands a chance of becoming the pride of east-bank Warsaw. We want to begin revitalization work on Grzybowski Square, a meeting place of many cultures in the very heart of Warsaw. We will also work on many micro-projects in districts. Finally, we will select the winner in the competition for revitalization plans for the Vistula's west bank's waterfront, which will be turned into a pedestrian-friendly promenade.

Which districts and sites are your priorities? How much independence do the individual district authorities have in the revitalization plans?
The micro-revitalization program is of key importance for most of Warsaw's districts. If we analyze the city's plans, almost 40 projects will be carried out by the districts and only large, "central" projects will be overseen directly by City Hall. The program is not about focusing just on central sectors of the city and neglecting everything else. Of course we want the city center to change radically for the better, but we also intend to change courtyards, facades and historic buildings farther from tourist routes or major public institutions.

Does the city want to attract private investors in connection with Warsaw's revitalization program?
The revitalization plans include points of contact with proposals for investors. For example, the revitalization of Teatralny Square will involve the construction of an underground parking garage by a private investor. It needs emphasizing that even now investors are showing the greatest interest in projects that require meticulous work on revitalizing valuable sites but on the other hand offer commercial opportunities. It's enough to look at what Warsaw's partners are offering at this year's MIPIM stand. The value of a number of these proposals lies precisely in the fact that they treat historical and post-industrial buildings with due respect and care.

Will such revitalization considerably improve Warsaw's attractiveness to tourists?
That is an important goal, but the most important thing is to create a "livable city"-a resident-friendly space. Of course as a consequence of the improved quality of public spaces, Warsaw's attractiveness to tourists will increase. Protection and revitalization of green areas, more space for pedestrians and cyclists, interesting plans from private investors and the city related to revitalization of post-industrial or historical sites, is sure to draw in tourists. And even today, Warsaw draws a comparable number of tourists to Cracow.
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