Developer unveils its vision of a new Bratislava centre

J&T Real Estate is asking for a statute of important investment for its package of projects to speed up the construction

Proposed developments on the Old City's embankment of the Danube River.Proposed developments on the Old City's embankment of the Danube River. (Source: Courtesy of J&T Real Estate )

One of the most valued localities of Bratislava – the embankments of the Danube River – has found itself in the spotlight of developers. Following HB Reavis, J&T Real Estate has as well applied for a statute of an important investment for its package of development projects on both sides of the Danube. In this way it is seeking to simplify the approval process and speed up the construction of a €1.2 billion package of development projects. Within it the developer is promising to build among others another phase of Eurovea, New Lido, a pedestrian bridge via the Danube, and new tram tracks.

“In the next five to ten years we would like to see a new modern centre here on both sides of the Danube, which will finally utilise the potential of the river and represent a natural continuation of the Old Town,” said Peter Korbačka from J&T Real Estate on August 3, when introducing the concept of Connected Bratislava. “The river will change from a dividing element to a connecting one.”

The developer has already informed the Bratislava city council about its plans and visions.

“The capital welcomes each initiative focused on the development of Bratislava,” said Zuzana Onufer, spokesperson of the Bratislava city council. “Mayor Ivo Nesrovnal acknowledges the interest of investors in participating in this development.”

During this phase the city council expects more complex information about financing, the preparation process and the construction time.

“The city council will assess the projects from the viewpoint of several parameters – in order for them to fit the concept of the city’s development, an enrichment of the city’s main transportation system, and in order for them to benefit Bratislavans,” said Onufer.

But she pointed out that it is the cabinet that decides on the granting of the statute.

J&T Real Estate delivered its application for the statute at the Cabinet Office on August 3. It believes that it meets all the criteria for the statute.

To get the statute of an important investment the investor needs to invest at least €100 million or create a minimum of 300 new working positions. Another condition is that the project is in the public interest. The investor in turn can get a tax holiday, better access to the acquisition of land and faster and simplified approval processes. The state has granted about 25 statutes so far.

“We will assess the application in the standard manner in order to meet the deadlines set by the law, which in this case means 60 days,” said Peter Pellegrini, Deputy Prime Minister for Investments and Informatisation, indicating that the cabinet may discuss the application in September.

J&T Real Estate hinted that it would carry out the entire package of projects, including the tram tracks and the pedestrian bridge, even if it does not get the statute.

“Getting or not getting the statute cannot halt the development of this area,” said Pavel Pelikán, executive director of J&T Real Estate. “This means that we will go on. We are sure that a tram should be here regardless of the statute.”

But if Connected Bratislava fails to get the statute, the whole process will be much longer.

Connected Bratislava

Within the Connected Bratislava concept, J&T Real Estate promises to build the second phase of the Eurovea mixed development, another phase of the Klingerka residential project, as well as the completion of the Panorama City residential and business zone. In all of these it is promising a mix of functions so that the area will live 24 hours a day. This means that there should be apartments, offices, shops and space for culture. It is also planning to build a congress centre for 1,700 people next to Eurovea. On the opposite bank of the Danube the brand new borough of New Lido should be built.

Read also:Bratislava may have first skyscraper Read more 

Connected Bratislava represents a development area of 60 hectares. 254,000 square metres of offices and 4,200 apartments are supposed to be constructed. The developer is vowing the creation of 35,000 square meters of public spaces. An additional 6 hectares are supposed to be parks and greenery. The developer will also provide four hectares for the building of sport facilities.

Part of the project is a pedestrian bridge connecting Eurovea’s square in front of the new Slovak National Theatre building with New Lido on the Petržalka side.

Read also:New Lido may bring river beach, marina and park Read more 

The developer is also planning to build 4.2 kilometres of tram tracks at a total value of €60 million. On the side of the Old Town and Ružinov boroughs there should be 2.7 kilometres of new tracks added and 1.5 kilometres of tracks in Petržalka.

“Our aim is to fill in the existing tracks with a connection leading from Šafárikovo Square, via Pribinova [along Eurovea], continuing via Košická and Miletičova Streets and joining the track line to Ružinov,” said Pelikán, adding that this should also enable the future construction of a tram line to Podunajské Biskupice around Slovnaft. “Simultaneously, we want to build a tram track that would service New Lido.”

The developer needs the tram tracks for its developments in order they are connected with the rest of the city.

In total the city should gain eight new tram stops and finally a real tram track ring in the city centre. After building the tracks, the developer will hand them over to the city for operation.

The construction of the new tram tracks is one of the reasons why it has applied for the statute of an important investment.

“The tram track itself is a very complex and demanding project from the viewpoint of the coordination of all the involved stakeholders and we see in it a great problem,” said Pelikán.

The developer expects easier administrative and permission proceedings in the gaining of the statute.

“An important investment does not mean bypassing the permission processes or the reduction of money that will flow into the development of the given area,” said Pelikán. “On the contrary, the permission processes must be kept and the amount of the planned investments into this area highly exceeds the amount of the development fees.”

Receiving the statute of an important investment means that the developer will not need to pay a so-called real estate development fee. Slovakia introduced the fee from the beginning of 2017 to help cities get money from developers for the building of new infrastructure and amenities as well as to prevent corruption.

The investor is estimating a €15 million fee for Connected Bratislava. In return it is offering the investment of a total of €75 million into the infrastructure of the given area.

HB Reavis also wants the statute

J&T Real Estate is already the second developer applying for the statute of an important investment in Bratislava. In March HB Reavis applied for the statute for its package of projects in the Mlynské Nivy area, including the new bus station and development within New Lido with a price tag of about €1 billion. Part of the package is also a cable car across the Danube for about €50 million. By gaining the statute HB Reavis is also seeking by the simplification of the approval processes and the quickening of construction.

Read also:The state will respond to the cable car project by the end of June Read more 

The cabinet has not yet discussed its application even though Pellegrini originally promised an answer until the end of June. In the meantime, it has asked the city council and affected boroughs for their opinions.

So far only Petržalka has responded but it does not agree with granting the statute. It is afraid of losing money it would otherwise receive via the development fee.

Read also:Bus station Mlynské Nivy will move later Read more 

In case it does not get the statute, HB Reavis is planning to carry out all the planned developments except the cable car. But it warns that without the statute the implementation of all the projects that are supposed to be a contribution to all Bratislava and its citizens will be much longer.

“Certainly more than 15 years,” said Jakub Gossányi, development manager at HB Reavis.

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