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Twin towers to replace empty parking lot

Bratislava's Inter football club has never had large amounts of fans coming to see their club's games, so Nové Mesto Mayor Richard Frimmel decided two years ago to turn a huge parking lot in front of the stadium into a twin-towered administrative, retail and residential complex of more than 20 floors, with a 40,000 square meter parking facility which can hold around 2,000 cars underneath the complex.
On March 2, Frimmel saw his dream finally take shape, when Nové Mesto district office signed a construction contract with Canadian CEIC Holding, Toronto, TriGranit Development Corporation, Budapest, and TrizentHohn Corporation, Canada.

Bratislava's Inter football club has never had large amounts of fans coming to see their club's games, so Nové Mesto Mayor Richard Frimmel decided two years ago to turn a huge parking lot in front of the stadium into a twin-towered administrative, retail and residential complex of more than 20 floors, with a 40,000 square meter parking facility which can hold around 2,000 cars underneath the complex.

On March 2, Frimmel saw his dream finally take shape, when Nové Mesto district office signed a construction contract with Canadian CEIC Holding, Toronto, TriGranit Development Corporation, Budapest, and TrizentHohn Corporation, Canada.

Back in 1996, the original plan counted on three towers: one residential, one administrative and one hotel. But after research of the hotel market in Bratislava, the CEIC dropped the plan. "[Lower standard] hotels like Junior and Nivy are full, but [higher standard ones like] Danube and Forum are not," said Jaroslav Kocka, Nové Mesto district's chief architect.

"CEIC considered Sheraton and Hilton chains for the hotel, but neither showed interest in this location." But Todd Cowan, Chief Financial Officer for TriGranit, said that a hotel still might be a possibility. If interest were shown, he said, a part of the second tower might be turned into hotel space.

The first stage of construction is to start by October 31 and to end by July 2000. For around $70 million, the project will create retail space of 30,000 m2 and an office tower. The second phase should start within 18 months after the launch of the first. Cowan said the estimated price for the whole project is $100 million and the investors expect to have the money back in 3 to 5 years.

Anxious to build

Having waited for two years, investors don't want to lose another day. "We want to start construction this summer," Cowan said. Kocka was more sceptical. "That date scares me," he said. "I think that we need more time for preparation than that."

But investors are already looking for tenants. "We are looking for two or three large retail tenants, probably international ones, to have their offices here," Cowan said, adding that potential suitors have been narrowed to 5 candidates, which he would not name. In smaller retail spaces the planners intend to blend international and local businesses with services, including a post office, banks, restaurants, dry cleaners and shops.

The contract was welcomed by City Hall with some reservation. "We hope that the investors know what they are investing in," said Milan Vajda, the Bratislava Mayor's spokesman, adding that a question has been raised whether Bratislava can support a project like this. But Cowan had no doubts it will.

"Bratislava can support three to four projects like this, there is a demand for retail and office space," he said. "We want to build a place for fun and shopping, where families can come together."

CEIC has built similar projects in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. The Polus Center in Budapest is the largest shopping and entertainment complex in Central and Eastern Europe.

The Bratislava complex's designers are Toronto-based Adamson Associates and Bratislava-based Fischer. The construction companies will be chosen by tender. Vajda said that the project will bring an interesting look to the neighborhood.

"A modern construction like this would be unacceptable in the center," he said. "I think this is a good location for it."

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