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The Warsaw Business Journal - Golden Opportunity

Following a building permit recently granted to Orco for construction of Warsaw's architectural wonder Złota 44, the project director gives Lokale Immobilia an exclusive interview and talks about the skyscraper.

Anna Kapica-Harward: Now that you have the building permit, when is construction due to start and will the building be delivered as scheduled?
Jean-Claude Moustacakis:
We've been granted a building permit but the administrative procedures haven't been completed yet. It's difficult to know exactly how long it's going to take but we expect to start construction at the end of February or in March. But of course we've been doing preparatory work the whole time. We are still running according to our schedule and arc still planning to finish the building during the first half of 2010.

Złota 44 is primarily going to be an apartment building, but what about the retail area downstairs - will it give a beginning to an upmarket shopping district in this part of the city?

It's funny that everybody is interested in that ... We've been talking with a number of luxury brands. There are talks but nothing has been signed yet. It's not a priority right now. We need to start the construction of the building. Around 99 percent of the building is apartments, while the retail area will be only one percent. Our priorities are getting the building permit, which has been done, starting the construction, which we are getting ready for, and delivering the building, so our tenants can move in in 2010.

But the area is going to develop. When we first started planning a luxury apartment block in the area, in 2005, people thought we were crazy, to say the least. But you can see how the area is developing with Złote Tarasy having opened recently, and office buildings. We believe that this area will become a real center of Warsaw, with workplaces, nightlife and apartments. It's a great vision and we'll see in 10 years' time, but I believe it's going to happen and we're getting there already.

Do you see room for many more high-rise buildings in Warsaw?

I'm not the one who can answer how many are needed. The city will have to answer this question, and the people of Warsaw. But in my opinion, high-rise buildings are needed in Warsaw and this is the only place in Central Europe where you can make such great projects. It's not just about building high-rises, it's about building quality high-rises. Hopefully we've started the trend. We've just heard about two more possible projects and the quality is there, so I hope they'll be built and I wish them a lot of success.

We don't want to cover the city with high-rises, but good architecture is going to improve the whole city. It's difficult to know how many luxury high-rise residential buildings the Warsaw market can absorb. To say that you can build four Złota 44s ... it would be difficult in my opinion. The trend will certainly be mixed-use - this will make more sense and we'll see more of these kinds of buildings in the future. But today, with the price of land and construction in Warsaw, these kinds of projects have to be luxury to make them work.

How does Złota 44 address energy-efficiency issues?

When we first planned the building, we decided it would be energy-efficient. And when we started work on engineering plans at the beginning of 2006 we decided to invest an additional (sum of] about €10 [zl.36] million in the construction and design to make it sustainable. It hurts to be sustainable. At the time many people wondered what we were doing, but we have values at Orco and we wanted to do it. And this is what we're doing today. Now everybody is talking about sustainability in Warsaw, but 18 months ago nobody cared.

In terms of solutions ... First of all being sustainable means using less energy and that's everybody's responsibility. But we have a lot of energy-efficient systems to recover energy and reduce water consumption. These are insulation solutions, [and an] energy-efficient facade.

Energy efficiency is a policy at Orco. It is something we decided on some time ago and now all the projects we build have energy-efficient systems.