Sorin Dumitrașcu, Country Director, Atenor Romania, talked to Property Forum about the sale of the company's first office project in Bucharest and the decision to expand its investment portfolio in the high-end residential niche.
This interview was first published in Property Forum’s first annual “The 50 most influential people on Romania’s real estate market” publication.
Atenor is developing a number of office buildings in Bucharest. Has the pandemic impacted the timeline of these projects at all?
We must admit that the pandemic period has helped us speed up construction works, especially the ones related to traffic (excavations and structural), for both our Class A office projects in Bucharest – Dacia One and @Expo.
Some or all the space had already been pre-leased by the time you obtained the building permit for your office projects. How has commercialization been going? Do you expect COVID-19 to have an impact on tenant requirements and on how much space companies lease?
Pandemic times have definitely affected the way we work in the office and the future of workplaces, however, offices are here to stay and companies still want and need a centralized hub. Demand has decreased due to the lockdown and public policies, but we expect it to bounce back at the end of this year or no later than Q1 2022. As per the latest statistics, Q1 2021 take-up has reached the level of Q1 2020 in terms of transactions.
Hermes Business Campus has been sold this spring. What does it mean for your development track record in Romania?
Atenor closed this sale with great satisfaction in the current economic and sanitary context. It highlights the quality of this first Romanian project, which is also one of the flagship developments in our portfolio. With this new agreement, Atenor confirms its ability to conclude large-scale transactions and demonstrates its willingness to confirm its role as a benchmark operator in the Bucharest market that is still very dynamic. The office campus project of 75,000 sqm is fully leased, which confirms that the project meets the requirements of the Romanian market.
Besides offices, last year you also obtained a building permit for the company’s first residential project in Bucharest. What motivated you to enter this segment?
Two main drivers: our know-how in the field and our trust in the market. The naming of the project came in reference to the experience of the emblematic UP-site tower in Brussels. One of the major assets of UP-site Bucharest is its prime location, on Calea Floreasca. The project consists of 270 residential units in two fully glazed towers of 12 and 25 floors. Besides the unique location and magnificent views over the city, the project has been designed to ensure the well-being and security of its future residents and will offer a range of amenities such as a fully functional wellness area located on the ground floor and mezzanine area, green spaces, underground parking and storage areas. The towers will also be equipped with the latest technologies in terms of safety or comfort (fresh air supply, humidity control, smart metering, etc.).
UP-site is set to feature the tallest residential building in Bucharest. How is the construction and sales process progressing?
Yes, upon completion, the 25th-floor tower will be the tallest residential building in Bucharest, as of the information we have now. We are proud to say that in only four months 50% of the project has been sold out, including half of the available penthouses. As of the construction, we just started the works, and we plan to deliver in Q4 2023. The response of the market to our pre-sales campaign is encouraging and compels us to deliver the expected quality product to our clients.
What are your development plans for the next 12 months? Any new projects in the pipeline?
We are continuously searching for good land opportunities to develop. By starting the construction of UP-site project we reconfirmed our commitment and confidence in Romania’s real estate market.
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