In an exclusive interview, Iwona Krzemińska, member of the board of directors and senior legal adviser, and Roger Andersson, the managing director, summarize the first three decades of Vastint Poland, while revealing that they have new projects in the works – including including multifunctional and hotels – and giving us their forecast for the Polish real estate market
Tomasz Cudowski, “Eurobuild EEC”: Like us sit down to talk, it’s the 30th anniversary of the founding of your company. He is hard to sum up such a long time, but what to do you think Vastint’s three greatest achievements were during this time? What are you particularly proud of?
Iwona Krzemińska, a Member of the Board of Directors and Principal Legal Counsel: We are proud of our team! The company’s success to date rests with our colleagues, and they are the ones who will drive Vastint to achieve the milestones we are aiming for. Our team is made up of people with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, but together – or Tillsammans in Swedish – we should leave here to forge an even more glorious future.
Roger Andersson, Managing Director of Vastint Poland: We have managed to build a portfolio of properties which is currently valued at 800 billion euros. We intend to maintain a long-term ownership and management interest in our developments, thereby ensuring their success. The third thing we are particularly proud of is our vision to create distinctive urban environments inspired by the way people like to work and live. Vastint develops well-thought-out projects that fit into the local context, are environmentally friendly and provide a sense of belonging to a larger community. Isn’t that great?
One of your office concepts, the Business Garden, has been implemented across several national borders. Do you build them identically in all these countries, or are there specific differences?
THIS : In addition to three Polish cities, they were built in Riga, Vilnius and Bucharest. Soon another project will start in Milan. Despite the differences in the layout and “architectural expression” of the buildings due to local conditions, all these complexes offer workplaces with the same characteristics and values, which are fundamental to the Business Garden concept.
AR: The name Business Garden acts as a label that guarantees certain qualities – high quality office space, functional and emotional benefits for tenants, as well as the principles of sustainability to which we adhere as a responsible developer. The focus is always on people, no matter where the resort is located. A common brand contributes to the notoriety and loyalty of our customers around our innovative projects.
The other sectors in which you operate are hotels and residential. The hotel sector is slowly coming out of its hole. What is its future, your opinion?
AR: Vastint Group is one of Marriott’s largest franchisees in Europe, which now operates in eight countries, with more than thirty-five hotels that welcome an average of 2 million customers per year. In Poland, we have built three hotels and four more are planned. Due to the profile and location of our hotels, the outlook is rather optimistic. The situation appears to be slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels. Forecasts suggest that 2023 will see a renaissance in tourism, while the results could be at least as good as in 2019.
And as for the houses – are you going to sell them to individual buyers or are you targeting PRS instead?
AR: Vastint debuted in the residential market in 2020. We anticipate that as our portfolio of residential projects grows we will consider a range of options, including investment plans in the PRS sector. It is an interesting alternative to traditional leases and we are now studying it closely. For now, we are focusing on our Waterfront project in Gdynia, where 126 apartments will be delivered to individual buyers next year. The sales process will begin once the construction process has been completed, with the apartments expected to be delivered in a level of finish that will allow them to move in on the first day after purchase. This innovative approach to the sale of the Riverview estate apartments has been warmly welcomed, while the finish styles we offer have also won buyers’ approval.
There is still the completion of some of the biggest projects in the history of your company in front of you, including the complexes forming the city. Let’s start with the most impressive of them – Stara Rzeznia in Poznan. What stage achieved this project and what makes it unique? And in on top of that, this project was also something of a marketing challenge – weren’t you afraid to take it on?
THIS : As for the formal side of things, the city of Poznań is working on the master plan. It should be voted on in the middle of next year. With the aim of being a partner of the city in this reflection, Vastint is carrying out cutting-edge work on conceptual design. We spend a lot of time consulting with the monument conservation service on the renovation of old buildings. This will help us obtain a preservation permit in the future, which is a prerequisite for applying for a building permit.
AR: Stara Rzeźnia is a new neighborhood in Poznań which will be built on the site of a former slaughterhouse and will significantly reshape this part of the city. It will feature carefully restored historic post-industrial buildings with an unusual atmosphere and high-quality aesthetics, which will be complemented by modern architecture. The multifunctional complex will provide space for the coexistence of workplaces, homes, culture, retail, restaurants and public services. Our goal is to create a vibrant destination where people will enjoy staying from their morning coffee to their midnight drink. I firmly believe in the success of this project. Stara Rzeźnia forms a natural continuation of the city’s current residential structure and is one of the most prestigious addresses in Poznań. It is also an ideal location for many corporations and small businesses interested in operating their businesses from downtown. Even the name, which is associated with the former function of the place, is an asset from a marketing point of view, as it strongly emphasizes identity and history, for which we have great respect.
Where did the idea for Airport Village come from? Warsaw comes? Multifunctional complexes next to airports have not yet become particularly popular in Poland, not to mention the CEE region.
THIS : Vastint acquired the 15 ha land on ul. Żwirki i Wigury six years ago. The site next to Chopin Airport offers excellent connections to all parts of the city thanks to the well-developed road infrastructure, including highways and highways. In addition, our plot is located entirely away from the landing/take-off routes, so there will be no associated noise problems. Projects next to airports are not common, so we were aware from the start that this one required a special approach. A careful analysis of the neighborhood, traffic and acoustics was carried out, resulting in an overall concept based on Howard’s garden city concept. We are creating a new local center, a friendly, open, functional and autonomous place.
Now is the time for a a few words about Vastint’s strategic plans for the next 30 years. Is it even possible to make plans for such a long time these days?
AR: Another decade awaits us, where some things will remain the same. But we still intend to pursue our long-term strategy, focusing on developing and managing assets in the commercial, residential and hospitality segments to achieve critical mass in particular markets. Over time, we will provide details of our plans and adapt them to the current market situation.
And what to do do you think the future of the real estate market over the next few years? The recent dramatic events – the pandemic and the war in Ukraine- changed the rules governing the market?
AR: We have seen the negative side effects of these developments, such as rising material prices and labor shortages, which have led to skyrocketing construction costs. Inflationary price increases and continued interest rate hikes have dampened demand for homes from individual buyers. However, I am optimistic about the health of the Polish real estate market in the long term. Quality and certified buildings will continue to attract new tenants and investors and, after a period of stagnation, the housing market should also experience a rebound from the current situation in which it finds itself.
If you had a a few million euros to lose, in which real estate sector would you invest? Or would you spend it on something other than real estate?
THIS : Real estate still has a high potential for value growth and is therefore a safe investment. Vastint pursues a diversified development strategy, and I will stick to this when investing in land for large commercial and residential projects.
AR: I have always been interested in real estate, professionally and privately, and from my experience I know that securing the right location is extremely important for success. If the investment were to be in Poland, I would invest in a waterfront location for a residential development.
And finally, could you tell our readers about your personal projects for the next few years?
AR: I will be staying in Poland for a few more years and enjoying the fruits of all our efforts over the past few years as we launch several exciting and major new projects.
THIS : I think it will be an excellent time to focus on the sphere of personal development, in addition to legal support for the company.
ABOUT VASTINT POLAND
The company is part of the Vastint Group, an international organization operating in the real estate market in Europe. The cornerstones of Vastint’s operations in Poland are the development of commercial and residential real estate for subsequent active management.