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The Warsaw Voice » Real Estate » September 30, 2013
SPECIAL EDITION: EXPO REAL 2013
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Busy Time For Echo
September 30, 2013   
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Developer Echo Investment has been around for many years, but it has never had so many office projects in the pipeline as it does now, with an office tower under way in Warsaw and tenants such as IBM moving into the company’s new projects on regional markets.

Echo Investment has started work on its largest project to date, a 115-meter-tall office tower called Q22 located in the heart of Warsaw’s business district. The tower will be built at the intersection of Jana Pawła II Avenue and Grzybowska Street, where a Mercure hotel stood before. The demolition of the hotel’s underground section will soon be completed. All materials so far removed from the site have been recycled, producing 1,500 metric tons of steel and 25,000 tons of recycled concrete aggregate for re-use in Echo Investment’s other projects in Warsaw. A special platform will be soon mounted on the Q22 construction site to build slurry walls. Before the end of this year Echo Investment will start building a parking garage for Q22, scheduled for completion in around 12 months.

Inspired by the structure of a crystal, the Q22 tower was designed by the prestigious Kuryłowicz & Associates architects’ studio and Buro Happold Polska. Offering more than just new office space in Warsaw’s business area, Q22 will be a user-friendly building with cutting-edge functionalities, according to Rafał Mazurczak, the director of Echo Investment’s office and hotel department. The location will highlight a company’s prestige, said Mazurczak. “Q22 also stands for comfort for users: a restaurant, a gym, spaces for bicycles and changing rooms for cyclists, state-of-the-art technology for owners of portable devices and staff facilities.” Now that a building permit has been issued for the Q22 tower, Echo Investment is planning to complete construction in the first quarter of 2016. The cost of the project is zl.500 million.

The company’s current projects in Warsaw also include the Park Rozwoju (Development Park) office complex with a surface area of 34,000 square meters, under construction on Konstruktorska Street. Further plans involve another two office buildings on Ta¶mowa and Beethoven streets. According to Mazurczak, Echo Investment is keen to continue investing in Warsaw. “We are searching for attractive locations in the Wola district and other places,” Mazurczak said. “There is plenty of interesting land, but the problem is that many of the lots are heavily overpriced. We have been considering several locations with residential and office projects in mind. Finding lots in locations as attractive as that of the Q22 tower will not be easy, but we’re open to another major office project. These are plans, of course, with a longer time frame.”

Echo Investment has also been active outside Warsaw. In the southern city of Katowice, the company is developing phase one of an office complex called the A4 Business Park. In early September, Echo Investment announced the entire first building had been rented by IBM. The U.S.-based computer giant will open an office center in Katowice and the amount of space it has rented in A4 Business Park totals 9,000 sq m, making this one of the largest such transactions on Poland’s regional market for office properties. Mazurczak describes the IBM contract as an important step for Echo Investment and one that shows the company has adopted a good development strategy for regional markets. “It also shows that the potential of individual locations has been assessed correctly, especially with regards to the BPO sector,” said Mazurczak.

The A4 Business Park is located on Francuska Street in Katowice, near an exit from the A4 freeway. The state-of-the-art business park was designed by the DDJM architects’ studio in Cracow and will comprise three office buildings and a multi-level parking garage. In the spring, the first building received a BREEAM Interim certificate with a “Very Good” rating and a very high score of 64.62 percent. The first phase is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2014.

Echo Investment is also making its mark on Wrocław in southwestern Poland. This October, the company will complete work on phase two of Aquarius Business House, an office building on Swobodna Street. Businesses which have moved into the building so far include Tieto Poland, PwC and AXIT. More will join them this year, including BNY Mellon from the United States.

Echo Investment is starting work on a new office project, a building called West Gate on Lotnicza Street in the western part of Wrocław. The ground-breaking ceremony for the building took place Sept. 16, attended by city officials, officials from Echo Investment and the DDJM studio, journalists and Echo Investment partners. A document to mark the occasion was signed by the deputy mayor of Wrocław, Adam Grehl, Piotr Gromniak, the president of the Echo Investment management board, Robert Muszyński, the president of the management board of the Arcad company and other officials.

Gromniak told guests at the ceremony he was happy to start construction on another modern office building in Wrocław. “Our company has been in Wrocław for six years now,” said Gromniak. “Thanks to our successful work with the city authorities, we have been able to carry out projects in three main areas of our operations. These are the Pasa˝ Grunwaldzki shopping center, the Aquarius Business House office building, and the Przy Słowiańskim Wzgórzu housing estate. Together, they comprise over 80,000 sq m of floor area and our projects in Wrocław are now worth more than zl.1.2 billion.”

West Gate will be a state-of-the-art, A-class building with 16,000 sq m of office space. Conveniently located near public transportation stops and the city’s main transportation routes, the building will be easily accessible from the city center and with good connections to the local airport and the A8 freeway, which forms a beltway around Wrocław. Nearby are also numerous retail and service outlets, a park and recreational areas.
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