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The Warsaw Voice » Real Estate » May 20, 2009
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Historic Factory to Be Redeveloped
May 20, 2009   
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The vast interiors of the historic Norblin factory at 51/53 ¯elazna St. in Warsaw's Wola district are set to be converted into apartments, offices and stores. If everything goes to plan, the renovation could be completed by 2013.

The investor, the ArtNorblin company owned by the Patrol Capital Partners fund, aims to create a modern and multifunctional space retaining the historical identity of the site. The preliminary redevelopment plan drawn up by the JEMS Architekci studio provides for an office section of 30,000 square meters, and a shopping and recreation center with stores, boutiques and cafés across another 30,000 sq m or so.

The centerpiece of the complex will be three towers, the tallest 18 floors high, all designed to match the slender contours of the factory. The top floors will be taken up by one- and two-level apartments, each the size of at least one entire floor, which is 165 sq m. Since the Norblin factory buildings are in a poor state, the investor estimates the total conversion and renovation costs will be zl.800 million.

At ground level, the complex will have covered passages with small stores, cafés and boutiques, and the buildings will be linked by squares and alleys preserving the original stone paving and tracks once used by factory trolleys.

The Scena Prezentacje Theater will remain at its present home on ¯elazna Street. "We want the area to be open for Warsaw residents and to vibrate with life," said Kinga Nowakowska, ArtNorblin general director. "Unlike other projects currently built in Warsaw, we do not want it to become a closed, secluded zone."

The two-hectare plot at 51/53 ¯elazna St. encompasses 11 buildings, all of which are registered as historic sites. The developer has applied for another two to be added to the historic site register. The defunct factory still has 36 machines that have never been renovated or shown to a wider public. The redevelopment plan includes an Open Museum of Industry in Wola, where the historic machines will be on display.

The origins of the Norblin factory stretch back 200 years. Badly damaged during World War II, the factory was previously famous for its trademark platters and later it manufactured metal goods. The factory closed down for good in 1982.

The Norblin redevelopment has aroused much interest, which has made the project tricky. Warsaw has few such sites and people interested in history and heritage have been watching the investor closely. "We respect the past of the Norblin factory and so we have been showing the design and consulting over it," Nowakowska said. "Thankfully, we have succeeded in reassuring Warsaw residents about the investor's intentions and convinced them that we want to preserve the valuable buildings and restore the former ambiance of the site."

And when will Warsaw residents be able to take a stroll down the stone-paved streets on ¯elazna Street and admire the renovated buildings? "The final reports from experts are being drawn up and we will most likely apply for official clearance this fall," said Nowakowska. "The Warsaw conservation officer was consulted over the design and gave us some preliminary recommendations. If everything goes according to plan, we will start construction at the end of 2010 or start of 2011 and complete the project in an estimated three years."

Magdalena Fabijañczuk
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