Liviu Tudor, Founder and Chairman of Genesis Property, spoke to Property Forum about the development status of the YUNITY Park project in northern Bucharest and the upgraded experience that offices have to offer to tenant companies and their employees for future growth.
What is the development status of YUNITY Park and when will the project become operational?
The YUNITY Park project is planned for completion at the end of the first quarter of next year. Having started in April, we are very pleased with the advancement of development and up to the present date the construction work is on schedule. The project will be delivered in phases and some of the elements that will shape the complex concept of YUNITY Park are already in the detailed finishing stage.
What are some of the challenges and benefits of transforming an existing office project into a new concept adapted to a different demand structure?
As with any real transformation, it comes with several challenges. This project is about adding meaningful value to people working in YUNITY Park. This is the real challenge. Take for example the almost one hectare of the ground level area of the car parking, which was lifeless and static. How do you bring to life such an area?
Therefore, we designed the transformation of a grayscape into a greenscape defined by an urban forest and continued with a public realm, offering opportunities for interaction, walking and recharging, by oneself or in a lucrative conversation, celebrating through public or personal events, and even working or having meetings in the proximity of nature. We believe the landscape of office parks has changed forever and while we look at buildings as being an active partner in the workplace, we also understand that the workspace is no longer a one-size-fits-all but a network of options accessible for a variety of typologies of people working, living or playing in the premises.
Are you planning new office investments in the next years or are you looking to buy existing projects?
Currently, the completion of YUNITY Park is our main priority. We are focusing on delivering this new concept that will also set the standards for future projects to come.
How can office owners support the efforts of tenant companies to bring their employees back to the office buildings?
At Genesis Property, our team is always on the lookout for ingenious ideas to put into action, addressing the challenges our tenants face now and potentially in the future. We believe in a partnership with our tenant companies, on both welcoming people back to the office and attracting a new generation of innovative and creative individuals.
Even before the pandemic, we have acknowledged the rising trend of addressing the need for a different kind of workspace with a focus on employees' well-being. The idea for this transformation of the current business park into YUNITY Park was planned before the pandemic. Covid-19 only accelerated the already existing plans, putting us today on the path of delivering such workspace. It is a consistent contribution to the partnership supporting our tenant companies in welcoming people back to the office.
What role does the office play in a post-pandemic environment for companies?
As employees demand more from the companies they work for, leaders must prioritize the need to reshape the employee experience, bring people back to the office, and retain existing and attract new talent. The key role the office will play in the future will be a place where employee experience translates into lucrative personal and professional growth, connectivity, and creative collaboration. The office is the place where company culture cultivates and nurtures both existing and new generations of innovators. These are the creative teams, collective initiatives that move economies forward. It is a place that inspires people to connect and collaborate. To grow in communities sharing the same sense of purpose, under a shared set of values, to create a meaningful impact at a personal, social, and professional level for society and the economy.
Are you adapting your office portfolio to an emerging trend of hybrid work arrangements?
YUNITY Park is designed to offer a network of options. The hybrid work model existed before the pandemic as well as the demand for a more flexible workspace. The collective voice of a generation of employees, in all its diversity, is heard in YUNITY Park at a personal, social, and professional level. It is not about adapting the office portfolio, it is about expanding these options into the organizational culture to enable interaction, collaboration, and innovation initiatives in both formal and informal ways.
What will be the occupancy rate of YUNITY Park once it is delivered and what kind of companies are seeking to lease space in the project?
The occupancy rate in our office spaces has been over 98% since last year. The demand for ultra-modern and extremely well-adapted spaces for employees' needs will grow more, while supply will increase much more slowly.
Our tenants are tier one companies, and we are determined to consistently provide beyond A-class services, to maintain the quality of our long-term relationship offering that unique space where employee experience is paramount. We are working diligently to maintain the relationship with our existing tenants and of course, to close the gap to 100% occupancy.
What will the new ESG standards bring for the future growth of the Bucharest-based office market? Will it become a mandatory principle for new developments?
We are looking at a generation for which the ESG standards are in fact part of a set of well-articulated values. When we are talking about environmental reduction targets, it must be mandatory for all business sectors to act on them, not only talk about it. One could not imagine in the future a sustainable and resilient workspace without a profound respect for the environment, from developing a strategy to minimize the carbon footprint impact, to educating and engaging communities at all levels in diversity, inclusion, and equality.
At YUNITY Park, the strategy includes, but is not limited to, the goal for Near-Zero Energy Buildings by implementing new energy-saving solutions to improve buildings’ energy usage and integrating renewable technologies to decrease the need for purchased energy, measuring our greenhouse gas emissions. This follows the methodology provided by the GHG (Greenhouse Gasses) Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, continuously promoting reuse and circular economy principles, encouraging recycling and using water wisely.
Genesis Property is the first Romanian real estate owner, developer, and property manager to join UN Global Compact, the largest global initiative for a sustainable future. We have a commitment to aligning our business strategy and operations to the sustainable development principles of the United Nations and focusing on sustainable initiatives to create a healthy environment for the future and reduce environmental impact.
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