Chopin Airport City: The new symbol of Warsaw
Posted: 12 February 2014 | Aleksandra Matuszewska, Chopin Airport City Project Manager and Director of the Strategy and Development Bureau at Polish Airports | No comments yet
Increasing air traffic is not the only way to boost airport revenues. Aleksandra Matuszewska, Chopin Airport City Project Manager and Director of the Strategy and Development Bureau at Polish Airports, provides an overview of the innovative Chopin Airport City project…
Chopin Airport City will be the first project of its kind carried out in Poland, reflecting the worldwide trend of building small airport towns with commercial functions. The new office and retail complex, situated in the heart of the rapidly growing Polish capital, Warsaw, and next to the country’s largest airport, will be home to some of the most prestigious business venues.
In the following years the area located in the south of Warsaw, along the main access road to Chopin Airport, will be transformed into a modern business park with recreation and entertainment facilities. An innovative combination of the concept of commercial development of the area and a creative approach to public space functions will result in a unique urban form, which should become one of the new architectural icons of the city. The distinguishing feature of Chopin Airport City will be its attractive mix of business and social functions. High standard office buildings, a conference centre as well as premium class hotels and recreation facilities will be surrounded by greenery and ponds. The centrally-located park will offer business people, tourists and the community an opportunity to meet and relax.
A convenient road system and direct train service will ensure comfortable transportation to the city centre and other parts of Poland. The focal point of the Chopin Airport City project is Chopin Airport – the biggest airport in Poland and one of the biggest airports in East-Central Europe. At present the annual capacity of the airport is approximately 15 million passengers. Once the development projects scheduled until 2015 are executed, it will be able to serve around 22 million passengers a year. These advantages will make Chopin Airport City an ideal place for business, meeting the needs of the most demanding customers.
Excellent business location
Chopin Airport City will be located in Warsaw, Poland’s capital and biggest city with a population of two million. According to global real estate consultancy CB Richard Ellis’ report (2013), Warsaw is the fifth most attractive business location among European countries (just after London, Munich, Berlin and Paris). 150 of the 280 biggest international corporations already have their headquarters and offices in the Polish capital. In terms of most popular business locations, Warsaw ranks at 12, right behind New York and Paris. Some of the investment projects now carried out at Warsaw Chopin Airport will greatly contribute to the development of Chopin Airport City. The railway link with the underground station, opened in June 2012, as well as the development of a system of express roads will significantly improve transport to the city and the region. The road system within Chopin Airport City will be clear and efficient, ensuring smooth flow of traffic within the area.
Open for business
Convenient accommodation is offered at the four-star Courtyard by Marriott hotel located in the immediate vicinity of the airport. In August 2013, the three-star Hampton by Hilton Hotel, located in a direct neighbourhood of the airport, enriched accommodation and conference services. The five-star Marriott Renaissance hotel, based on the premises of Chopin Airport City, which will be completed in 2014, will additionally improve the business offer. The project also includes fitness clubs and restaurants. In the middle of Chopin Airport City there will be a roofed passageway comfortably connecting the buildings.
Incorporating the principles of sustainable development, Chopin Airport City will be designed and operated in a socially beneficial and environmentally-friendly way, but will also be profitable. These principles will be applied not only to each of the planned facilities, but also to the entire project, making it a unique undertaking for Poland and Europe. Together with consulting company Arup we are analysing the criteria of individual buildings’ certification in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold as well as the parks in the LEED ND (LEED for Neighbourhood Development) system. From its inception, the idea of the Chopin Airport City project is to balance an environmental and community-oriented approach with business functions. The site will be comfortably linked with the city centre by urban railroad, buses and taxis; limiting vehicle traffic in favour of walkways will allow for developing the area in a work- and leisure-friendly fashion. Chopin Airport City will have low-rise buildings surrounded by greenery and ponds and a centrally located square with recreational services, galleries and restaurants available for business people, tourists and the community alike.
Along with Arup, we are now creating a detailed land management project for the investment. Our cooperation includes the final environment decision and deciding the conditions of the development, which together will enable us to progress the plan of local space management. Once we’ve finished the procedure, we will be able to start the preparation of the terrain for the construction of the first office buildings. We anticipate that we will begin to break ground in 2015. Until this time, a holding company will be established and take over the project.
Cooperation with business partners
The project will contribute to Warsaw’s non-aeronautical revenue, making us less vulnerable to volatility in the aviation industry. Given the project’s cost, estimated at 1 billion zlotys (PLN), and its implementation period of at least 10 years, cooperation with business partners is essential. Chopin Airport City is primarily an office park with additional commercial and service functions; an undertaking a step away from the mainstream business activities of Polish Airports being the management of airports, although Chopin Airport City is expected to significantly contribute to them. Coupled with the results of financial analysis, reasoning was the starting point for work on the business model of the project.
Chopin Airport City will be developed and ultimately managed by a holding company owned entirely by Polish Airports, which will ensure complete control over the implementation of this key project, and streamline the implementation process. The company will be able to pursue development projects through its special purpose vehicles, on its own or in cooperation with its business partners. Therefore, during the real estate development stage, we want to invite developers and real estate investment funds to join the project in order to benefit from their capital potential, as well as their expertise and knowledge of the office buildings market. The project was presented twice during MIPIM real estate shows in Cannes and EXPO REAL in Munich. It has attracted the interest of a large number of international developers and investment funds. It is too early, however, to discuss the specific terms of potential cooperation. Together with our consultant we have begun work on the land development plan with the view to preparing a plan of technical infrastructure development for the real estate. The next step will be to create the optimum project implementation plan. The land where the Chopin Airport City will be developed will be split into separate investment plots with individual buildings or groups of buildings connected by an underground car park. A precise land development concept will provide investors with more details and facilitate more specific discussions with potential partners.
Stable source of revenue
The aim of the project is the development of real estate in order to provide Polish Airports with maximum financial profits by making Chopin Airport City a stable source of non-aeronautical revenue for the company while increasing the value of the real estate itself. The ultimate source of revenue for Polish Airports will be the dividend from the special purpose vehicles that will be directly responsible for the implementation of the Chopin Airport City project. The other sources of income will include the rental of conference rooms, commercial and service space as well as car parks. Since the entire project will be implemented in stages, it is difficult to calculate the payback period for the entire project. The results of the analysis show that it will be 13 years on the average for the capital employed for one building (an individual investment). Another crucial aspect is the increased value of the Polish Airports Business Group, which will be joined by the Chopin Airport City company. We are, therefore, not considering selling our investment, as it would mean giving up future financial benefits and losing control over the real estate. Revenues generated by Chopin Airport City’s business activities will be first used to repay the liabilities related to the project construction. Additional funds can also be invested in improving services for passengers and airlines at Chopin Airport, including the reduction of airport charges, and also in the company’s future investments and business ventures.
New dimension of business
The Chopin Airport City project will contribute to the economic development of this part of Warsaw by creating new jobs both during and after the construction of the complex. Within the next few years, the area near Chopin Airport – which is neglected and infrequently visited by inhabitants of Warsaw – will be transformed into a modern business park with recreational and entertainment facilities open to the public.
Owing to the innovative concept of joining commercial usage of the land with a creative approach to utilising public space, the complex should attract foreign companies interested in locating their offices here. Office and commercial complexes have been built for several years now around Chopin Airport, but the major advantage of the Chopin Airport City project is its location in a direct neighbourhood of the airport’s passenger terminal and excellent communication routes with the city centre and other regions of Poland. Location near Chopin Airport will allow companies to locate their headquarters in the most attractive place for international business activities. The city shall have perfect connections with the country’s system of expressways, motorways and other main roads leading out of the city, which will enable a convenient access to other big cities in Poland and Europe. As the only business complex in this part of the metropolis, Chopin Airport City will also have a direct railway connection with downtown Warsaw, and from there – with the whole country. The increased importance of this part of Warsaw for business will mean growth in prestige not only for the airport but for the city and region as well. As a result, the Polish Airports marketing staff will have a stronger case when negotiating new destinations with airlines. We assume that once the project is completed, the airport city shall become the new symbol of Warsaw.
- The Airport City will be close to Warsaw’s ring road – conveniently linked to other places in Warsaw
- Walking distance from the airport
- 15 minutes (7km) to the city centre • Has access to Warsaw public transport network
- Limited vehicle traffic inside the airport city
- ‘A’ class modern headquarters and office park • Profitable retail and service facilities
- Up-to-the-minute technological and IT solutions • Eco-friendly solutions (‘Green Certificates’)
- Unique architecture and timeless design
- Green space with fitness, leisure and entertainment facilities
Aleksandra Matuszewska is Director of Strategy and Development Bureau at Polish Airports SOE (PPL). Since 2011, she has also been PPL’s Authorised Representative for Chopin Airport City. As a member of several project teams she took part in elaborating and implementing strategies and development plans, e.g. for Warsaw Chopin Airport and entities of the PPL capital group. She effectively uses her knowledge of company management in supervisory boards of commercial companies