By Karol Bartos, Executive Director, Portfolio & Asset Management, Tristan Capital Partners
The market for modern commercial space in Poland has enjoyed dynamic growth for the past 25 years, and experts predict that there will be no slowdown any time soon. Warsaw alone is on course to add more than 763,000 sqm of office space by 2017, of which almost half will be located in the city center. We have found, however, that owners of existing buildings still have plenty of trump cards to play in the increasingly fierce competition for tenants.
Our experience at the Warsaw Financial Center (WFC), a tower in the heart of the city center that helped establish the Central Business District, shows that landlords with a proactive approach to property management can hold their own against new office developments. The key is in the teams that manage existing properties, since they are able to anticipate and respond immediately to tenants’ needs thanks to the long-term relationships that they have forged with them.
Tristan Capital Partners’ joint venture with Allianz Real Estate initiated a renovation and refurbishment program shortly after acquiring the WFC in 2012 with a view to meeting the needs of the most demanding tenant. The changes encompassed improvements to the building, in the services offered and in how we communicated.
We opened a completely redecorated lobby at the WFC at the end of 2014, featuring an impressive central video wall that is the largest of its kind open to the general public. The wall features works by Polish and foreign artists. It is also used for projects involving our tenants – the most recent of which was an account of the search for the wreck of famous Polish submarine ORP Orzeł that involved a person who works at the WFC.
As part of the facelift to the lobby, we installed the state-of-the-art Compass Plus elevator call system, which improves energy efficiency and speeds up access to the upper floors. Through its modernized access control system, WFC is the first office complex in Poland to have a booking system similar to those found at airports that allows visitors to pass through its access gates by using a unique QR code that can be displayed on a smartphone. Another successful initiative this year is the opening of the flagship outlet of Paul, the French chain of bakeries and restaurants. Landlords cannot afford to rest easy, especially when faced with a pipeline of new developments that will open in the coming years.
Effective property management is critical and depends on a constant hunt for improvements to differentiate a building so that it meets the needs and expectations of tenants.