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FOREIGN AND SLOVAK FIRMS LINING UP FOR SORAVIA

Suburban shopping center attracts interest

Bratislava will have its first Western-style suburban shopping center late in 1997, if all continues as planned by an Austrian developer and his Slovak partner.
The Soravia Centrum, a 9,000-square-meter complex of three buildings named after its 36-year-old mastermind, Austrian developer Hanno Soravia, is based on the same concept as Shopping Center Süd in Vienna's southern suburbs, according to project manager Thomas Seikmann. Seikmann conceded that at 7 kilometers from downtown Bratislava, the Soravia Centrum is far from the city center, but that it will attract shoppers driving both out from the city and in from surrounding towns and villages.


"We want to make more projects: shopping centers and flats."

"Rents are very high - the same as in Austria per square meter, and you can build very cheap."

Thomas Seikmann, Project Manager


Bratislava will have its first Western-style suburban shopping center late in 1997, if all continues as planned by an Austrian developer and his Slovak partner.

The Soravia Centrum, a 9,000-square-meter complex of three buildings named after its 36-year-old mastermind, Austrian developer Hanno Soravia, is based on the same concept as Shopping Center Süd in Vienna's southern suburbs, according to project manager Thomas Seikmann. Seikmann conceded that at 7 kilometers from downtown Bratislava, the Soravia Centrum is far from the city center, but that it will attract shoppers driving both out from the city and in from surrounding towns and villages.

Soravia and his Slovak partner, a former Construction Ministry administrator and current real estate consultant named Pavol Murányi, have already been able to attract the interest of international and Slovak potential tenants for the first 4,500-square-meter building (now simply called Building A). Stiefelkönig is signed on for a 700-square meter shoe store, and Seikmann said negotiations with the Austrian supermarket chain Billa for 2,000 square meters are likely to be complete in the coming weeks. Seikmann added that a contract is imminent for 320 square meters with the final anchor tenant - an international fast food restaurant with drive-through services.

Murányi is now sifting through more than 120 inquiries - mostly from Slovak companies - for the remaining 1,500 square meters in A, and for Buildings B and C. Seikmann estimated they will need 30 tenants to fill the three buildings.

The opportunity to profit from Slovakia's current demand and supply was what Seikmann said lured his company into the market. "Rents are very high - the same as in Austria per square meter, and you can build very cheap," he said.

Rent prices in the complex will vary from a low of 4,400 Sk ($145) per square meter per year for large areas with little equipment or furnishings to a high of 11,000 Sk ($360) per square meter per year for fully furnished small spaces.

Construction of the first building alone will cost about 70 million Sk ($2.3 million), and the entire project will run around 270 million Sk ($9 million), according to Seikmann. Shopping Center Bratislava, the limited-liability daughter company Soravia founded under the Austrian developer Ilbau, is the primary investor. Seikmann said they have already spent about 50 million Sk ($1.6 million) on the project and that negotiations are ongoing with Raiffeisen Bank and its Slovak daughter, Tatra Banka, and with Bank Austria for additional finances.

Seikmann said Building A could open as early as autumn 1997 and by Christmas at the latest. He said they are aiming to open Building B three months later and C four months after that.

Not discouraged by Slovakia's obstacles to development, a list that he said included "bureaucracy, restitution, taxes, and inflation," Seikmann said,

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