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Lubicz Brewery (Browar Lubicz) story

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After more than 10 years since Carlsberg ceased to produce beer at what was formerly the Okocim Brewery on ul. Lubicz, the construction hoardings are at last coming down to allow public access.

 The Brewery on ul. Lubicz started its life in 1840 but changed hands a number of times during the course of its lifetime as an active Brewery. Production at the Lubicz site was finally suspended under Carlsberg in 2001 and the 2 hectare plot with accompanying buildings was sold onto US real estate investor, Pandion, at the end of 2005. After applying for several different outline planning permissions, the American owners eventually decided to pursue a masterplan for this important site together with the City of Krakow. The result was a success but by now the global financial crisis had hit Pandion's financial partner, New York based Ospraie Management, hard and a decision was made to liquidate the fund and sell the property. Shortly afterwards Leach & Lang Property Consultants introduced British investor, Balmoral Properties, to the site with the final purchase contract for the plot being signed early in 2010. Mofo Architekci were soon contracted to work up detailed plans for the project and demolition work on site began in mid-2011.

 Austrian general contractor, PORR, began in earnest at the end of 2011 in preparation for building the underground parking level by carefully excavating around the existing foundations of several listed buildings. The former malt-house, a 1,000 square metre half-timbered building on the corner of ul. Lubicz and ul. Strzelecka, has been completely refurbished and will shortly re-open as a micro-brewery. The former brick-built boiler-house has also been renovated and has had a mezzanine level added inside providing almost 1,000 square metres of open-plan office space. The piece-de-resistance is the fully-reinstated Goetz Palace which measures almost 2,000 square metres – its ground floor will be home to the Hungarian Consulate and its other floors are already under offer to several of Krakow's expanding IT firms as office space.

 The commercial side of the development is not just confined to the historic buildings - the ground floors of both of the main new-build residential buildings will also have a retail use. Upmarket food retailer Piotr i Pawel have already signed a lease for a 1,100 square metre delicatessen and will shortly be joined by a travel agency, dry cleaner's, chemist's and café. There are still several hundred square metres left for rent with a bank, a newsagent's, a hairdresser's, a florist's, spa and gym being sought to complement the retail offer for residents.

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 The main residential building consists of 5 staircases and accommodates 106 apartments, 70 of which have already been sold as of the end of January 2014. The smaller residential building still offers 7 apartments for sale (out of an original 31). A handful of foreign buyers have purchased apartments – principally to live there – whilst the strong majority of new owners hail from Poland. Prices have ranged from 8,000 to 13,000 PLN per square metre with the majority of apartments offered around the 10,000 PLN per square metre level.

 Aside from the interesting mix of new residential and historical commercial buildings, potential buyers and tenants have been attracted by the city centre location and the carefully-selected mix of commercial tenants making the scheme largely 'self-sufficient' with shopping, services and leisure facilities all available on site.

 Subsequent phases of the project will only enrich the scheme further. Balmoral Properties have already begun tendering for the construction of both second and third phases of the project which are increasingly likely to be developed simultaneously. These next phases will add a further 163 apartments (closing the total number for the scheme at 300) across 4 separate buildings as well as a stand-alone 5-storey, 5,200 square metre, A-class office building visible from ul. Lubicz. Were construction to start around Easter 2014 then the whole project could easily be delivered by the end of 2015.

 There are several sizeable city centre developments that have been delivered over the past decade in Krakow but either of a predominantly retail or residential nature with Browar Lubicz perhaps the only scheme that can truly claim to be regarded as mixed-use. Will the success of this scheme lead to more mixed-use developments? Which other post-industrial plots or areas of town will be revitalised next? Which developments in Krakow and across Poland can be compared with Browar Lubicz?

Wednesday, 12 February, 2014

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