As 1997 comes to a close and we look forward to 1998, it's time to take stock of the past year and see what it forecasts for the year ahead. Progress was made on several fronts this year: Bratislava Old Town's vividness has been resurrected through renovations, VÚB launched the nation's first mortgage program, and ground was broken on a new 34-floor National Bank of Slovakia building, to mention a few. However, much of what was started in the past 12 months will not be completed until next year. And with elections looming next autumn, many decisions may have to wait until we see what Slovakia's prospects look like 12 months from now. In any case, we offer 10 predictions for what to expect on the real estate development scene in 1998.
1. Southern hospitality
As it progresses with its ambitious downtown development and convention organizing, the southern municipality of Lučenec will continue to lure reputable firms and set the standard for Slovakia's other smaller cities.
2. Korzo on course
BZ Bau will renovate a building atop Bratislava's Michalská ulica and RBI will start to do likewise on Rybná brana, continuing to add much needed life to the "Korzo" pedestrian district.
3. Obchodná is back
When Roger opens its office and retail building on the corner of Obchodná ulica and Hurbanovo námestie with high-profile international tenants this summer, it will be yet another stamp affirming that the once-grand shopping street is truly coming back to life.
4. Suburban expansion
As Bratislava's pre-fabricated housing projects such as Petržalka and Dubravka decay, developers are equally certain to increase the construction of up-scale apartment buildings in neighborhoods like Bôrik, Machnáč, Horský park and Dlhé Diely, and single-family homes in suburbs like Záhorská Bystrica, Borinka and Limbach.
5. Mall talk, but no action
Talk about the race to build Slovakia's first shopping mall and multiplex cinema will increase but action will not, as the winners will not be revealed until 1999.
6. Košice scores!
Playing in a brand-new ice hockey stadium next season, HC Košice will be the envy of all Slovak sports clubs. All the country's existing facilities will pale in comparison to the sleek new arena.
7. Bank on it
After a banner year in which VÚB, Ľudová Banka, Poštová Banka, and ČSOB all constructed landmark headquarters for themselves, fewer banks will move into cushy new homes in 1998.
8. Sophistication by association
With the long-overdue merger of Slovakia's two realtor associations and added experience, domestic agencies will become more sophisticated. A few agencies will continue to separate themselves from the crowd, while foreign agencies will stand pat, watching from afar.
9. People and politics
There may be a new president and a new government by the end of the year, but that will be only part of the 1998 political intrigue. Three Bratislava district mayors - Andrej Ďurkovský of Staré Mesto, Richard Frimmel of Nové Mesto, and Vladimír Bajan of Petržalka - are expected to vie for Lord Mayor, a post which some insiders say incumbent Peter Kresánek is likely to vacate. Add to that the fact that Košice Mayor, Rudolf Schuster, is seeking national office, and prospects for negotiating with local authorities may change significantly.
10. High diplomacy
With a gorgeous new ambassadorial residence next to Slavín, the new chief British representative to Slovakia - due to replace Ambassador Peter Harborne this summer - will be the envy of Bratislava's foreign diplomatic corps.
18. Dec 1997 at 0:00 | Rick Zedník