A NEW KRAKÓW
A historic city that's all about its people aims to become even more alluring for businesses. By MORTEN LINDHOLM
WBJ: Kraków is a historical city with immense prestige. What are the plans for developing Kraków so as to meet the challenges of future generations and to keep its attractiveness?
Bogusław Kośmider: The city is about its people. This is why all development scenarios for Kraków are based on this most valuable asset: the activity, knowledge and creativity of our inhabitants. The local government’s objective is to empower them and release their energy so as to help the city to develop sustainably through cooperation with all partners. Kraków’s economy is one of the key areas in which our planning is directed, which is why building a “knowledge-based economy” is the strategic priority for the city. The city is executing and supporting many smart initiatives thanks to the extensive scientific and research facilities of our universities and the quality of our academic staff, as well as thanks to the activity of numerous companies focusing on modern technologies. Our main objective is to help businesses develop in a friendly and safe city, to help young people find attractive offers of education and employment and for all inhabitants to be proud of a Kraków that is skillfully combining its rich history with modernity.
When will we see the “new” Kraków and what are the key themes Kraków will then stand for?
“New City” is a comprehensive project for the creation of a sustainable multi-functional district occupying almost 700 ha in the southeastern part of Kraków. To make the execution of the project possible, a specific local zoning plan is being developed for the area. It assumes transformations of the existing land development into a new representative urban fabric to create a new center with high rises as dominant features. It will be possible to locate buildings up to 150m high there. Regeneration projects will be implemented in the “New City” to transform the existing extensively-used warehouses and storage into properties for commercial, office, service, high-tech industry and other functions combined with the residential function. The forecast net usable area of multi-family housing will amount to about 2 million sqm for about 100,000 inhabitants, while the service-related development will occupy about 3 million sqm. New areas for public services relating to administration, education, religion, health, science, culture and sports are planned for the inhabitants’ comfort of life. When it comes to sustainable development, significant emphasis is being put on the environmental aspect while creating the “New City” project: a new river park, one of the largest in the city, has been designed along the banks of the Drwina River and will occupy about 65 ha.
For many, Kraków is recognized as a student city with an amazing international mix and blend – is it the city’s mission to keep it this way?
Definitely! The Kraków Scientific Academic Center consists of 23 higher education institutions, nearly 130,000 students, including about 8,000 foreign students (in 2020), highly qualified academic staff and more than 650 years of university tradition. Such historical aspects make us, as the city authorities, obliged to continue to take care of this priceless inheritance. More and more Kraków universities offer and continue to add new courses taught in English, organize international scientific conferences and participate in international research programs.
Are there some areas or industries that Kraków wants to develop particularly in the coming years and how?
The economy is one of the key areas in city development and it necessarily includes communication and information technologies related to the digital transformation that we can currently observe.
We will continue to support the development of the sector of modern business services. Indeed, Kraków has already become an important center on the world scale in that respect. Another important development direction is to reinforce the city’s offer for congress and business tourism that has come about thanks to our extensive and continuously developed hotel infrastructure, gastronomy, as well as congress centers, entertainment arenas and exhibition halls and modern sports venues.
The city is also trying to modernize its procedures and activities by expanding access to public information (Open Data), as well as by building the Electronic Public Service System and local geographical information systems (GIS).
Kraków is burdened by smog and air pollution. What are your plans for improvement?
Our key objectives when it comes to air quality improvement include enabling low emission reductions, developing renewable energy sources, investing in green public transport and reducing demand for energy. For example, we have subsidized the purchase and installation of systems using renewable sources of energy such as photovoltaic systems, heat pumps and solar systems under a few special strategic programs in the last few years. We have also financially supported thermal efficiency improvement works in single-family houses and heating system modernizations implemented by the inhabitants in connection with the ban on the use of solid fuels (effective September 1, 2019). Moreover, we are implementing a shielding program addressed to low earners who incur higher costs after the heating system change. There is a “Kraków Energy Advice Center” in our city where experts help the population, e.g. to learn about the rules of subsidy programs, issues related to renewable energy sources, energy-efficient retrofitting, thermal efficiency improvement of buildings, possibilities of connection to the heating network or the use of infrared cameras. Beyond this, we cooperate with the Kraków Metropolis Association (Kraków + 14 adjacent communities) in a project allowing for the employment of eco-advisors (the ELENA instrument under the Horizon 2020 Program) in connection with the implementation of the anti-smog resolution for the Małopolska region. We publish the daily information about air quality in Kraków online and monitor the situation continuously. In addition, we offer free public transport whenever air quality is particularly bad.
BOGUSŁAW KOŚMIDER Kraków Deputy Mayor