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The Warsaw Voice » Real Estate » July 29, 2009
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Plenty to Choose From
July 29, 2009   
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Though analysts warned that developers would halt their projects and that the market would soon run short of good apartments, there's still plenty to choose from in the Polish capital.

According to forecasts by analysts with real estate services company Reas, plans provide for the completion of at least 38,000 apartments in over 300 projects in Warsaw in 2009-2010. Many of these projects are already in progress. The greatest number of homes are being built as part of the Miasteczko Wilanów project in the Wilanów district and in the Białołęka district, especially in neighborhoods such as Mańki-Brzeziny, Nowodwory and Tarchomin. Developers are also active in Górce in the Wola district and in the Center-North area.

Developers still prefer to offer discounts than change their price lists. Apartment prices are slowly beginning to stabilize, which does not alter the fact that Warsaw is still far more expensive than other Polish cities. The average price per square meter of a two-room apartment is zl.8,322, and a three-room apartment fetches zl.8,362. The most expensive districts in the second quarter of this year were Śródmieście (zl.16,400 per sq m), Ochota (zl.10,800 per sq m) and Mokotów (zl.10,200 per sq m). Apartments in the increasingly popular Białołęka district cost zl.6,500 per sq m, in Praga Południe-zl.7,900 per sq m, while the cheapest homes are available in Wesoła (zl.5,500 per sq m), according to Emmerson real estate services company.

According to Home Broker, average asking prices on the secondary market are the highest in Śródmieście, at zl.11,200 per sq m. One square meter in Mokotów and Wilanów costs zl.9,200, in Ursynów zl.8,900, in Wola zl.8,200, and in Białołęka zl.6,400.

Dreaming of Mokotów
In a survey conducted last fall by real estate services company CB Richard Ellis and Murator EXPO, Mokotów is the most popular among Varsovians, mentioned by 48 percent of those polled. This district has plenty to offer, from villas and new luxury apartment buildings to old prefabricated concrete apartment blocks.

In the spring, Mermaid Properties completed its River House project on Bluszczańska Street in Mokotów. It is composed of three four-story buildings with 94 apartments ranging from 41 to 120 sq m in area. There are gardens on all the roofs, offered for sale to residents regardless of their apartment's location. The price per sq m in the development ranges from zl.8,200 to zl.9,400. Buyers are given a choice between an apartment with or without finishing. The catalogue of finishing options includes three packages: bronze, silver and gold. The developer will also fit out an apartment according to the buyer's design.

August will see the completion of stage two of the Hubertus estate being built by Eco Classic at 1 Obrzeżna St. in the Służewiec neighborhood, right next to the horse racetrack. The estate, which will ultimately have about 1,200 apartments, is being developed in six stages. The first 176 dwellings were completed last October. Stage two comprises 270 apartments, while stage three-with about 180 housing units-is planned for February next year.

The apartments are being sold without interior finishing but they can also be offered as turnkey projects at the buyer's request. The buildings range from four to 10 stories in height. To move into the Hubertus estate, where apartments range from 35 to 160 sq m in size, you have to fork out upwards of zl.7,755 per sq m.

The intersection of Woronicza and Racjonalizacji streets in Mokotów is the site of the Woronicza Qbik project. This development by Ghelamco is a soft-loft project. As opposed to lofts, soft lofts are built from scratch, as new buildings. A total of 350 apartments, from 36 to 200 sq m, will be built there, both split-level soft lofts and single-level apartments. The soft lofts' living-room area will be 5.8 m high. The sale of these apartments began in the spring. The project will be completed in 2011.

New look for Wola
Wola, a district located in the western part of Warsaw and bordering on the central district of Śródmieście, is getting a new look. Neglected former industrial buildings are being pulled down or redeveloped. Many are being replaced with modern office buildings and residential developments.

One such modern estate being built there is Capital Art Apartments at 4 Giełdowa St., a project by Atlas Estates. The plot of 17,500 sq m will ultimately include almost 720 apartments in five buildings of varying height. The investor has completed stage one comprising 200 apartments from 30 to 160 sq m in area. Stage two will involve two buildings: a 17-story tower with 177 apartments ranging from 42 to 157 sq m, and a seven-story building with 123 apartments ranging from 37 to 114 sq m. Each apartment will have a balcony or a loggia.

The two top floors have been designed as spacious apartments with two bathrooms, walk-in closets and large terraces. The average price per sq m is zl.10,000; parking spaces are available for upwards of zl.42,000. Stage two is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2010. The Capital Art Apartments estate will be fenced and fitted with a monitoring system. There will be green areas with paths and play areas for children between the buildings. The estate will be wheelchair-accessible.

Completion of the Grzybowska project, being built at 4 Grzybowska St. by Dom Development, is planned for mid-2010. This modern U-shaped building of varying height will house 287 luxury apartments, including five penthouses. These homes will range from 125 to 251 sq m. The facility will have security with entrance via a reception area from Grzybowska Street. The project will include a cozy patio with garden greenery and a fountain. A two-level garage for residents will be located under the building, accessible by elevator from each floor. The ground-floor level will include commercial premises separated from the residential section.

Commuters' favorite
Warsaw's southernmost district of Ursynów has long been known as the Polish capital's dormitory district. It owes its popularity to good transport links to the center thanks to the metro line. In a survey of districts' popularity by CB Richard Ellis and Murator EXPO, Ursynów ranked second behind Mokotów, winning 24 percent of the vote.

Right next to Komisji Edukacji Narodowej Avenue, opposite the Imielin metro station, Ronson Development is building the Gemini estate, a project in two stages. Stage one will be one 11-story building with 152 apartments ranging from 42 to 148 sq m. Completion of this stage is planned for September 2010. Stage two will comprise 177 apartments in two buildings, one 11 and the other seven stories high.

The same developer is building a complex of two five-story residential buildings called Nautica. This project, on Stryjeńskich Street not far from Kabacki Forest, will include 147 apartments ranging from 32 to 125 sq m in size. The buildings will be ready in the first half of next year.

Neighboring Wilanów is witnessing the development of a large urban project called Miasteczko Wilanów. This is a 169-hectare project in the western part of the district that will include residential estates, schools, preschools, a central area with stores, service outlets, hotels, and offices as well as restaurants and cafes. Miasteczko Wilanów is about 8 km from the center of Warsaw and 7 km from Okęcie airport.

Luxury apartments close to city center
The greatest number of luxury and premium apartments are being built in Mokotów and Śródmieście. The Muranów neighborhood, specifically 2A Stawki St., is the location of the Trio luxury apartment building that will offer an extra hotel-standard service package. The project, designed by the JEMS Architekci studio, has a distinctive triangular shape. Apartments are being offered without interior finishing, but are also available as turnkey projects on request. Comprising 192 apartments, this project will be completed in the first quarter of next year. Apartments range from 33 to 179 sq m, and one square meter costs between zl.12,000 and zl.22,000.

Within the next few weeks, the first residents will be able to move into a new luxury building at 10 Emilii Plater St. This project includes 74 apartments and a retail and service section. The average price per sq m is zl.12,600. The investor is the Engel Group, which is also involved in other residential projects in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro as well as Germany and Canada.

Nowe Powiśle is a project emerging close to the University of Warsaw Library, almost on the Vistula riverbank. This is the first investment project in Poland by Menolly. The project is being built in two stages: stage one involves a luxury residential complex whose completion is planned for the first quarter of 2010; stage two involves the renovation of the historical buildings of the Powiśle Power and Heat Generation Plant complex and the construction of modern office buildings with class-A space. The Powiśle Power and Heat Generation Plant compound will house a luxury shopping mall, art galleries and restaurants. Buyers will have to pay from zl.13,000 to more than zl.20,000 per sq m of residential space there.

Cheap, green, and distant
Young couples with children often choose Białołęka, chiefly because of its relatively low prices and extensive green areas. In terms of residential construction, this is the fastest-developing area in Warsaw. A large part of the new buildings are single-family homes. Białołęka has the same dormitory suburb image as Ursynów does across the river. However, it has one serious drawback-poor transport links to the rest of the city. The district's main artery is the always jammed Modlińska Street, an extension of Jagiellońska Street. The transport problem should be solved by the Północny (Northern) Bridge, which will connect Białołęka with the western part of Warsaw. Today road traffic from Białołęka is concentrated on Warsaw's most crowded river crossing-Grota-Roweckiego Bridge.

Companies building in Białołęka include Dom Development, one of the biggest residential developers in the country. It is the investor for the Miasteczko Regaty estate being built close to the Żerański Canal, on Kobiałka Street. This estate comprises three-story buildings and two retail and service pavilions. There will be a total of 1,200 apartments there, ranging from 33 to 120 sq m in size. At present buyers are being offered apartments from 33.7 to 119.4 sq m at prices ranging from zl.5,570 to zl.6,950 per sq m. Stages one and two of this project are ready for residents to move in. The developer plans to complete stage three in the last quarter of this year.

Other projects by Dom Development in Białołęka include Osiedle Derby on Skarbka z Gór and Ostródzka streets (the first stages have been completed) and Osiedle Akacje 11 on Światowida Street in Tarchomin (planned completion: last quarter of this year).

Home sweet home
To those who love open spaces and want to enjoy their morning coffee on their own terrace or in the garden, developers offer houses on the outskirts of Warsaw or a bit farther away from city limits.

"Houses in the city" is the slogan under which Diamentic Estate is selling its homes in the Saskie Zacisze estate six kilometers from the city center, on Wał Miedzeszyński Street near the exit onto the Siekierkowska Expressway. There will be 30 houses there: 16 semi-detached homes 224 sq m in area, two free-standing houses 224 sq m in area, and 12 semi-detached homes of 189 sq m. Prices per sq m start from zl.5,500. The first seven homes will completed this fall, with the whole estate scheduled for completion next fall.

This project's distinctive features include exceptionally large windows. Every room, even the kitchen and the upstairs hallway, will have wooden windows 1.8 m high. In the living rooms, they will take up the width of one whole wall, stretching across almost 7 meters. The ground levels of all the homes will be fitted with floor heating.

Oaza Kampinos is an estate that will be built on a total of 32 hectares of plots where old trees grow, near the Kampinoska Forest, about 25 km from the center of Warsaw. This is a complex of single-family houses by UBM. The developer will build 148 free-standing houses and 62 semi-detached houses ranging from 196 to 232 sq m in area. The second or third quarter of next year will see the completion of stage one of the project, with 49 houses. These environment-friendly homes will be fitted with solar power systems and condensation boilers. The price per sq m is about zl.4,500. Each home will be surrounded by a tree-covered plot with an area of 800 to 1,600 sq m, priced at around zl.300 per sq m.

Magdalena Fabijańczuk

Mokotów: A District of Diversity
Aleksandra Szarek, real estate market specialist, Home Broker:

Asked where in Warsaw they'd like to live, the great majority of people will reply straight away: Mokotów. This district has long enjoyed uninterrupted popularity, the reason being its huge diversity. Everyone can find something to please them there.

Mokotów has excellent transport links to the whole of Warsaw, mainly thanks to the metro. Added to this is a well developed tram and bus network. One could perhaps say that Ursynów is even better in this respect. But apart from excellent transport Mokotów has many other assets. Above all, there are its numerous green areas such as Pole Mokotowskie, Królikarnia and Arkadia Park, which all act as magnets attracting prospective residents. You will find an extensive range of properties in Mokotów, too: from villas, including many embassies, prewar tenements in the old part of the district, 1950s and '60s apartment blocks, to prefabricated concrete blocks and modern luxury apartment buildings. In other words, everyone stands a chance of finding their dream home there. They have to be prepared to spend a sizable sum, though, as this is one of Warsaw's most expensive districts. Not all is lost, however, because recent price drops mean you can buy an apartment in a prefabricated concrete block for less than zl.6,000 per sq m. Służewiec Przemysłowy has been one of the most vigorously developing neighborhoods of Mokotów recently. This used to be an area of nothing but industrial facilities, which began to fall into ruin. Ever since the Galeria Mokotów mall and the first few office buildings were built there, the neighborhood has been transformed into a retail and service area. Many large companies have their head offices there, and new office buildings are being built all the time.

The district's attractiveness is proved by the fact that most of the new apartment buildings in Warsaw are located in Mokotów. It's not really surprising; a cozy tenement among greenery is a much better proposal than another high-rise in the noisy city center.

Wide Choice in Wola
Anna Wrzesień Berezowska, director of the residential department, Ober-Haus:
The main determinant of attractiveness on the real estate market is location. The proximity of the city center, good transport links and well developed infrastructure are the assets of a relatively attractive location. Warsaw's Wola district meets these criteria, encouraging many young people to buy their first home at an affordable price close to the city center's cultural and entertainment opportunities.

Post-industrial Wola is consistently raising its profile, attracting residents with previously ignored features such as an abundance of green areas including Sowińskiego Park, Szymańskiego Park and Moczydło Park. Architectural and social neglect is being made up for thanks to urban regeneration and cultural redevelopment projects undertaken by the Wola District Office.

The seeds of change in the appearance of this previously underrated district came with the sale of investment plots, often former industrial terrain, for new office buildings, which brought Wola closer to the central part of Warsaw, practically erasing the boundary between office buildings in Śródmieście and Wola. The most intensive development, involving a dozen or so office buildings that are sure to meet the demand for this kind of commercial space in the city center, is planned in the area of Towarowa, Prosta, Żelazna and Grzybowska streets. The only obstacle is the current problems with obtaining funding from banks for such large-scale projects.

Parallel to this, developers launched a veritable invasion on Wola during a residential boom. Developments in neighborhoods such as Odolany, Młynów and Ulrychów sprang up at lightning speed. Today Wola is leading the charge in terms of housing, tempting buyers with a wide choice of apartments and good prices.

20 Years Between Wilanów and Ursynów
Mikołaj Martynuska, director of the residential department, CB Richard Ellis:
Wilanów and Ursynów are districts with similar potential for residential construction. Considering their strengths in terms of location and natural features, in the future these districts will be direct rivals for a similar group of clients. Ursynów and Wilanów are set apart by 20 years of residential development. That's why today Ursynów has a much more consolidated development and urban fabric, and also has better public transport links with the city center. The major part of Wilanów, on the other hand, is perceived as a huge construction site with dozens of projects in progress. Completed buildings are only starting to be occupied and their residents will have to cope for several more years with the inconveniences caused by ongoing construction work. Also, public transportation in Wilanów is much sparser than in Ursynów.

As for the supply of apartments, despite the far greater scale of the Wilanów market, what is offered in Ursynów is far more diverse. The southwestern part of Ursynów is dominated by projects from the popular segment and extensive developments, with asking prices of about zl.6,500 per sq m. At the same time, the most attractive parts of the Kabaty neighborhood offer premium projects where asking prices exceed zl.10,000 per sq m. The total current supply of new apartments in Ursynów is about 500 units.

One of the problems with Wilanów is an excessive supply of projects addressed to the same target group. The marketing policy of developers building their projects in Pola Wilanowskie has led to a situation in which most of these projects aspire to the status of premium developments. This means that the average asking price in Wilanów is more than zl.9,000 per sq m. Considering that the average apartment in Wilanów is relatively large, the group of prospective buyers is shrinking substantially due to the steep price tag. Given the current level of supply, in excess of 4,000 apartments under construction, there is a certain disproportion between supply and demand there. Nevertheless, once the ongoing projects in Pola Wilanowskie are finished, the result will be the most modern district in Warsaw.

Białołęka: "Family's Own Home" Program
Aleksander Skirmuntt, director of the new projects department, Emmerson Real Estate:
Białołęka is among the most rapidly developing districts in Warsaw in terms of residential construction. It is often likened to Ursynów, Warsaw's dormitory community. At present there are 32 ongoing multi-family residential projects in Białołęka, in which developers plan to complete 7,000 apartments by the end of 2010. What's on offer today are 260 finished apartments in completed projects or buildings ready for occupation. These apartments are being sold at prices ranging from zl.5,300 to zl.6,900 per sq m-zl.6,200 per sq m on average. In all, developers are offering about 1,400 apartments. The market is dominated by homes in the popular segment, with two or three rooms and 50-60 sq m in area, which account for 33 percent of the offered volume. More than 10 percent of homes on offer are one-room apartments, while the biggest homes of over 100 sq m account for just 2 percent of the offered volume.

This arrangement of apartments in buildings and their relatively low prices mean that 70 percent of the apartments on offer come under the "Rodzina na swoim" ("Family's Own Home") program. The average price for an apartment in Białołęka at the end of the second quarter of 2009 was zl.6,300 per sq m, down 2.5 percent from the previous quarter. Prices of one-room apartments range from zl.160,000 to zl.330,000, while two-room apartments, which are the most popular, cost from zl.200,000 to zl.470,000. The cheapest three-room apartments can be had for just zl.280,000. However, in most cases, you have to add the cost of finishing, because apartments in Białołęka are typically offered without interior finishing. Though some developers offer finished apartments as well, the buyer has to pay extra for such a service, from zl.35,000 to zl.45,000 on average, depending on the size of the apartment and the finishing standard.

Luxury at 59 Mokotowska St.
Alicja Kościesza, Orco Property Group sales and marketing director:
The very high interest in apartments at 59 Mokotowska St. shows no signs of waning since spring, not even during the summer vacations. Since we obtained occupancy permission in April, over 65 percent of the apartments have found new owners, despite the crisis on the real estate market. We still have four apartments available, including a 244-square-meter penthouse on the top floor, with a large terrace and views extending from Unii Lubelskiej Square to the Palace of Culture and Science.

In most cases, customers have bought the apartments entirely with their own money or paying for a large part themselves. Apartments ready to move into are one of the safest forms of capital investment at the moment. Although we are ready to deliver the apartments and sign the contract the day after the payment is made, in order to assure maximum security for the customer, Orco provides for transactions via an escrow account.

What buyers appreciate the most about 59 Mokotowska St. is the prestigious location among embassies and some of the finest parks of Warsaw. They also like the luxury of the shared sections, including the elegant Art Deco-style lobby, as well as the elaborate finishing and furnishings of apartment interiors, complete with wooden floors, lighting and furniture in the kitchens and bathrooms. Besides, 59 Mokotowska St. is a private residence for just 14 families. The private feel is enhanced by wooden finishing in shared sections and decorative, custom-made details such as the mirror frame, lamps ordered from a studio in Vienna and an illuminated fountain in the courtyard.
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