THE BUS station on the border between the Old Town and Ružinov districts in the Slovak capital is to receive a massive Sk17 billion facelift by the year 2011 in the largest real estate project launched in post-1989 Slovakia.

Local developer HB Reavis plans to replace the ageing terminal building with a Sk1 billion upgrade that will sprawl across 45,000 square metres. The construction proposal was presented to Bratislava city hall on January 23, and work is scheduled to begin this year.

"Travellers will not experience any restrictions during the construction period," said Miro Sedlák from HB Reavis. "Under a temporary transit reorganization, part of the departure and arrival gates will be shifted to a location near the current terminal."

The new complex, which has been christened Twin City, will also house a four-star hotel with 200 rooms, 320 residential apartments, and a 42-storey office tower - the tallest in the city - with 200,000 square meters for rent. Of that figure, 60,000 square meters will be office space, while about 100,000 metres will be given to retail and entertainment uses.

While the main work on the project will not start until next year, clean-up operations will begin in spring 2007 at the abandoned Kablo wire cable plant across Mlynské Nivy Street from the current station, which has been moved to the Záhorie region.

Kablo was first bought by the German Siemens company, but was then sold to Pirelli of Italy and the Goldman Sachs investment bank, from which HB Reavis acquired the site. The latter will begin by knocking down the old Kablo factory buildings.

The Twin City project will span Mlynské Nivy and integrate the street into its design.

HB Reavis is one of the largest developers on the Slovak real estate market, and has developed both the CBC complex on Karadžičová Street beside the VÚB bank building the Apollo Business Center, and the Bratislava Business Center I-IV buildings in the vicinity of the bus station alone. The company claims that its Twin City project is the largest so far in Central Europe.

Last year, HB Reavis sold the Au Park shopping centre in Bratislava to the listed Dutch firm Rodamco for 75 million euros.

HB Reavis also owns a 49-percent stake in the SAD Bratislava bus transport company through its Bus Transport firm, and plans to exercise a buy option on a further 17-percent stake.