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The construction sector reflects the excellent condition of the Slovak economy, and so the whole country is experiencing a construction boom. The heart of construction work and real estate development is the capital Bratislava, which is undergoing unparalleled development. It is as if the Slovak metropolis wanted to make up for the almost construction apathy of the period of international isolation that Slovakia faced for the best part of the 1990s. The new construction fever is seeing thousands and thousands of square metres of commercial and residential premises being built each year.
Today Bratislava has a stable place on the map of global real estate players. While just a few years ago the mention of it would just raise the scrutinizing eyebrow of experts, nowadays Bratislava is one of the most sought after investment localities in Europe. Commercial properties in the city on the Danube are owned by big names like Heitman, Rodamco Europe, Hannover Leasing or Axa. Eight out of the ten biggest real estate transactions in Slovakia concern Bratislava. In Bratislava you can find world renowned developers like Ballymore Properties, which are accompanied also by strong Slovak players, which now play their hands throughout Central East Europe. Prestigious consulting companies also have branches here, like CB Richard Ellis, Colliers International and King Sturge.
All segments of the property market are developing, but it is office space in particular that is doing best, and which next to flats is the most developed market segment. A boom is also being enjoyed by retail premises and shopping and leisure centres.
Thanks to its unique position, Bratislava and the surrounding area is an ideal location for logistics warehouses. Tourist potential on the other hand attracts developers that specialize in hotel projects. The strong economy of the region also reflects in flat construction, with the Bratislava region producing almost one third of the annual total number of started and completed flats.
Until recently, Bratislava had no real estate trump card in sight. During the whole of the 1990s only one office complex was completed, comprising the four business centres BBC I-IV on Plynarenska Street. The big players bypassed Bratislava, and the so-called big six property consulting companies also had no representation in Slovakia. Yet it was this that enabled the growth of a strong group of developers from the domestic environment. Companies like HB Reavis Group, J&T Real Estate, Cresco Group or IPR took advantage of the absence of foreign competition and so now their names are known also on a European scale. Today they are being driven forward also by competition from abroad, which now fully realizes the immense potential of Bratislava.
What attracts them here? Available space. Bratislava is probably the last major European city where there is still an abundance of potential construction sites available. Fantastic locations that till recently were not utilized, are now transforming into new city quarters, giving the Slovak capital a new character. The new Land Use Plan of the city identifies a total of 4,000 hectares of additional development land earmarked for the construction of flats, shops, offices and related infrastructure. This is the key competitive advantage of Bratislava in enticing foreign investors here, which no other European city can offer.
Special importance in the urban concept of Bratislava is associated with the embankments on both sides of the River Danube, the historical city centre, the castle and the area below the castle, together with other protected heritage sites. A specific position is held by the dockland area. The hub of the new plans is the area on the north bank of the Danube between The Old Bridge and The Harbour Bridge. Bratislava will also develop outwards to the southwest in the direction of the Austrian border, in what is referred to as the fourth quadrant, this having been prevented till now by the iron curtain of the totalitarian regime. This will help renew and enhance territorial and service-related relations with municipalities on the Austrian side.
The city centre also expects to transform, as it becomes broader, more attractive and livelier. Probably most importantly, former factory sites will vanish from the centre, being replaced by modern architecture and adopting a multipurpose role. Emphasis will be put on the construction of mixed-use buildings with quality housing, premium office space, shops and leisure areas with parks, playgrounds and sports facilities. The city centre will start to spread out toward the river, thanks to which Bratislava will reclaim its former title of “Beauty on the Danube”. Several kilometres of modern attractive boulevard will run along both banks of the river. The revitalization of the embankment zone will be taken care of by experienced developers with the best possible references, such as Ballymore Properties or J&T Real Estate. Development will start on the north bank, and the Danube embankment projects of the decade will be called Eurovea and RiverPark.
The areas around the central bus and train stations will be transformed, with property mega projects cropping up worth hundreds of millions of euro. By 2011 the north and south of the city on either bank of the River Danube will be linked up by a modern high-speed tramway, which will connect up to the existing tramline network. In the coming years the city plans to invest millions of euro, primarily into the revitalization of transport infrastructure.
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