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OFFICE SPACE - A FLOOD OF NEW PROJECTS IS ON ITS WAY, BUT EXPERTS SAY FEARS OF SATURATION ARE UNFOUNDED

Large office projects selling like hotcakes

You go from your air-conditioned office with a view of the Danube and Bratislava Castle to the underground car park via high-speed elevator. From there you drive to a shopping mall's underground car park and do your shopping for the weekend. After that, to a fitness centre and after to the cinema.

You go from your air-conditioned office with a view of the Danube and Bratislava Castle to the underground car park via high-speed elevator. From there you drive to a shopping mall's underground car park and do your shopping for the weekend. After that, to a fitness centre and after to the cinema. After the film you drive to your high-class apartment block in the foothills of the Small Carpathians, get your mail from the receptionist, and take the elevator to your fashionably furnished, air-conditioned apartment.

This is what life is like for Bratislava's upper-class urbanites. And predictions say there will be more and more of these modern Super-Bratislavians. The conveniences of modern technology and the estate market are becoming ever more accessible to the city's middle class, with the only remaining obstacle being a lack of high standard housing, which, in a year or two, will also be a thing of the past.

Investors and developers started focusing on administrative projects several years ago. At the beginning of this decade, they sensed a coming demand for high standard offices and since then have built thousands around the Slovak capital, the biggest ones including the Apollo Business Center on Prievozská Street, the Polus shopping centre's Millennium Towers on Vajnorská Street, and the Westend complex next to the Patrónka crossroads.

Since the beginning of the decade, a new, ever expanding "Business District" has arisen in the former industrial area along Prievozská Street. Other areas of the city are developing also, but this is all just a modest beginning when compared to what the next few years have in store.


Before the boom


Last year's key projects include City Business Center II on Karadžičova Street with 13,400 square metres of space for rent, and the completion of the first phase of the Digital Park on Petržalka's Einsteinova Street with 11,700 square metres for rent. Both projects were leased almost en masse to one major client. Whereas Slovak Telekom moved into the CBC, Digital Park now houses the Chinese computer company Lenovo's service centre here.

Even more big openings will be seen in 2007. Tower 115 near Apollo Bridge, the Aupark Tower in Petržalka, the sky scraping City Business Center, Park One on Kollárovo Square, and the Pressburg Trade Center in Old Town will all be competing for tenants and revenue.

Even more administrative giants are on their way, and although they will not open this year, foundations are already being dug. The bigger ones include Eurovea and River Park on the Danube embankment, an extension to the Apollo Business Center on Prievozská Street, the next phase of Digital Park in Petržalka, the third Millennium Tower at Pasienky, Lakeside on Tomášikova Street, and the new Slovenská Sporiteľňa bank headquarters, also on Tomášikova Street.

Smaller projects are also being started on Galvaniho Street near the airport.

All these will add another 50,000 square metres Bratislava's office space market, which is twice as much as Digital Park and City Business Center II contributed last year together.

According the DTZ consultancy company, the current area of high-quality administrative spaces in Bratislava could double within the next few years.

Even though the office building market is hot, developers are not forgetting the commercial sector. The Mlynské Nivy bus station and the old Kablo factory next to it will be completely rebuilt into a poly-functional complex called Twin City within the next few years. Other future commercial sites include Kamenné Square, Bratislava's main railway station, and an old swimming pool complex near Trnavské Mýto. A new poly-functional complex is also being planned on Rožňavnská Street.


Can the economy handle it?


Some fear that the Slovak office building market is almost saturated and that there will not be enough demand to meet the supply. They envision empty offices building up and the beginning of a price war. A similar thing has already happened already in the case of lower-quality offices in older buildings.

However, some claim this fear is unfounded. The Trend weekly predicted that demand will grow along with the increase in supply. Thanks to quick economic growth and an advantageous tax environment, Bratislava has become a popular among multinational companies as a prime location for service, accounting, call, and management centres. With the development of new districts, especially the Danube embankment, Chalupkova Street, Prievozská Street, Galvaniho Street, Petržalka, and others, Bratislava will continue becoming more and more attractive.

Firms who invest in Slovakia, such as Dell, Lenovo, IBM, Enel, and Telefónica, also bring banks, legal, insurance, travel, and service companies along with them.

Many industrial companies build their plants in the countryside for the cheap labour, but establish their headquarters in Bratislava for the convenience of city life. An example of this is the Hyundai/Kia South-Korean auto manufacturer, which has its factory in Žilina, yet will base its Central European headquarters in Bratislava.

This article first appeared in the Spring 2007 issue of Trend Extra Reality.

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