Poles are not particularly outdoorsy people. It’s hard to blame them given that up to seven months a year, temperatures drop below freezing. Yet they do love the shopping experience and are no strangers even to outdoor shopping. Even in the cold of winter, Varsovians flock to the capital’s top meeting places.
Located in the very heart of the city, ul. Chmielna has seen a long transition to being one such destination. It has a pretty impressive catchment area, with 10,500 people living and 83,000 people working within a 10-minute walk of the street, according to a study by Millward Brown. Extend that to a 15-minute walk, and you get 22,500 residents and 175,000 people working in the area.
The same study has shown that as many as 12 million people visit ul. Chmielna each year, more than half of whom say they come to shop. Its visitors are predominantly young, with the 20-39 age group making up 63 percent of all the pedestrians on weekdays and 73 percent at the weekend. It is also a highly “feminized” street, particularly at weekends, when 73 percent of all visitors are female.
‘A key location for new-inner city retail investments’
“Chmielna is one of Warsaw’s main high streets. It is an exclusively pedestrian area, connecting ul. Marszałkowska and ul. Nowy Śwat. Together these streets form an inner-city retail cluster.
Many tourists and young people frequent the street. Its offer is mainly gastronomy – restaurants, cafes and bars, followed by popular clothing and accessories brands such as Tatuum, Orsay and Vero Moda. It is noteworthy that ul. Chmielna also features many small stores run by local merchants.
The street has seen several positive changes over the past few months. The Chmielna 25 office/retail scheme has recently been delivered. Towards the end of 2013 children’s clothing and toys chain Smyk opened its flagship 1,600-sqm store in the building.
Both these events show ul. Chmielna’s potential for further development as one of key locations for new inner-city retail investments.”
‘A true European high street’
Why did LHI choose ul. Chmielna as the location for its investments?
Chmielna is an exceptional location with its long tradition as a place of trade and services. It is the only connection between ul. Marszałkowska and ul. Nowy Świat, with as many as 12 million people visiting it each year.
We believe this place has tremendous investment potential. We are pioneers on ul. Chmielna but we believe others will soon follow in our footsteps. I’m convinced that in a few years ul. Chmielna will become a true European high street.
One thing that needs to be dealt with is the ever-present cars, which shouldn’t be here at all. Chmielna is a pedestrian area but there are still cars driving next to people walking.
How is the commercialization going for your latest investment: Chmielna 25?
The building is already 50 percent leased. Similarly to our previous investment, Nowy Dom Jabłkowskich, Chmielna 25 is garnering a lot of interest.
What are your plans for ul. Chmielna?
We’ve been working on future projects on ul. Chmielna for three years now. It is a difficult and time-consuming process. There are many legal and logistic problems to overcome. We need to build relations with the owners, property managers, residents and investors. I’d like to launch one of these projects this year and another one in 2015.
We are also interested in developing the second row of buildings on ul. Chmielna, but for this we need to work with city authorities, which makes the process much longer.