Domestic companies are excellent in terms of equipment, capacity and manpower, and we want to get as many of them as possible involved in the Belgrade Waterfront project, Nikola Nedeljkovic, the general manager of this project, says in a talk with eKapija.
Nedeljkovic explains that the interest expressed by domestic companies is huge, which he says is of special importance because a goal is to have both local and foreign experts work on the project.
- It is clear that domestic companies have an advantage because of their local experience and the fact that they are more familiar with the local requirements than foreign companies are, so that I am absolutely sure that they will put the main stamp on this project.
We have already started working with a large number of domestic companies. For example, Masinoprojekt was tasked with the elaboration of the project and the preparation of final designs for residential facilities that are already under construction now.
- Aside from Masinoprojekt, we also hired PMC inzenjering and Millennium team for preparation works, Novkol for pile installation, and Energoprojekt as the main contractor - Nedeljkovic adds.
eKapija: How many space is there for domestic industry and its products? Will residential and other facilities feature domestic parquet flooring, carpentry, sanitary elements, ceramics, electrical installations...
- We are open and willing to work with Serbian manufacturers and contractors, which we already showed by hiring contractors for the project. In all the facilities we are currently working on and those we are going to work on, both residential and commercial ones, only top-quality available materials will be used.
Although the interior equipping phase is yet to start, we want to give an opportunity to the local industry to offer its top-quality products.
eKapija: What has so far been done on the Belgrade Waterfront project?
- One of the first things we did under the Belgrade Waterfront project was to renovate the Belgrade Cooperative building that had been neglected for so many years and it is now a gallery that got back its original splendor of one of the most beautiful buildings in Belgrade. By doing that, we wanted to give an example of how our project would develop in the future, preserving the spirit of Belgrade and making it even more beautiful.
In addition, we`ve created a place where a large number of visitors from Serbia and abroad can see and feel a blend of the cultural heritage of Belgrade and the new modern city that is in making here. There`s no better place for this than the gallery of the Belgrade Waterfront.
The plan was also to make rivers even more accessible and access points to them more attractive. We started with Hercegovacka Street and the promenade along the river. The Sava promenade is practically an indication of how this whole space will look like in the future, complete with playgrounds for children, balconies, an amphitheater underneath the Old Sava Bridge...
The most important event, of course, was the laying of the foundation stone for the first BW Residences residential towers, with a surface area of 68,000 square meters, as well as the signing of an agreement with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, one of the world`s largest hotel groups, for W Hotel that will be situated in their vicinity.
In parallel with this, we are working intensively on designs for Belgrade Tower and a big shopping mall that will be built simultaneously. Preparation works for W Hotel, Belgrade Tower and the shopping mall can be expected in 2016.
The plan is to have BW Residences buildings finished in Q1 2018, W Hotel in 2019, and all other facilities by the end of 2020.
WE ARE BUILDING HOMES FOR 14,000 PEOPLE AND CREATING 20,000 NEW JOBS
eKapija: What is it that the Belgrade Waterfront project entails?
- First of all, we have to keep in mind that we are talking about a mega-project occupying a location of one million square meters and stretching over a total gross area of two million square meters.
Residential facilities account for somewhat more than a half of the project, so once all the work is done, there will be over 6,000 housing units and 200,000 square meters of commercial space. There will also be hotels and a big shopping mall of 140,000 square meter, the largest of the kind in the region.
A special accent will be placed on public and green areas. In addition to the Sava promenade, there will also be a lot of squares, parks, playgrounds for children, as well as cultural facilities for various purposes.
We expect Belgrade Waterfront to become a home to more than 14,000 people, while additional 12,000 businessmen will gravitate towards this part of the city once this complex is fully completed. It should also be noted that the project will generate more than 20,000 jobs during the implementation.
eKapija: You were working abroad for many years. Given your international experience, could you explain the importance of the Belgrade Waterfront project for Serbia?
- After more than 18 years abroad, I came back to Belgrade because I realized Belgrade was not only one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but also a city with a huge potential. I see the work on this project as one of the ways to tap into this potential.
What is really unique for this project is a blend of traditional and modern. The whole project is inspired by the architectural and cultural heritage of Belgrade. When I say `cultural heritage`, I am surely thinking about Savamala, which is a protected area and definitely gives an additional value to the entire Belgrade Waterfront project.
eKapija: What is your comment on the objections made to this project by citizens, experts and the opposition?
- We greatly appreciate the opinion of all citizens of Belgrade and Serbia, professionals and experts, and we want to get all interested parties involved in the development of this project.
We aim to make Belgrade even more beautiful and more successful. This is the reason why we are in the mood to establish a firm cooperation with all interested parties who share the same goal.
eKapija: How would you assess the cooperation with the city and the state? The start of construction was preceded by numerous activities - from the site clearing and the displacement of people and facilities, to the issuing of permits, etc.
- We are very satisfied with the cooperation with both city and republic agencies. For all their big support to this project and the vision that Belgrade Waterfront will contribute to Belgrade becoming a top business and tourist destination, we are very thankful to them.
eKapija: Implementation of the Belgrade Waterfront project should be finished in 30 years. What will we be able to see once all the work is finished?
- We will see a modern city unit and an integration of the cultural heritage and spirit of Belgrade with modern architecture. We will see beautiful public areas, new streets, boulevards, a plenty of greenery...
It is important to stress that we will not have to wait two or three decades to see all this. With the completion of the first phase, in four or five years, it will be perfectly clear how this space is going to look like in the future.
THREE FOURTHS OF APARTMENTS ALREADY SOLD, SALES TO CONTINUE SOON
eKapija: How are the apartment sales going? It was announced earlier that most of the apartments were sold already on the first day.
- I can proudly say that we sold 75% of the apartments that were offered for sale, and we were just offering apartments from the Tower A within BW Residences. The sale of apartments in the Tower B will start in the following period. Both towers feature a total of 296 residential units.
eKapija: Who are the first tenants of Belgrade Waterfront?
- Buyers are primarily people from Serbia, but a huge interest was also expressed by our Diaspora, which is a very important target group for our project.
A smaller percentage of buyers were from abroad, but these are mainly people who have never before invested in Serbia, and we are pleased to see that they recognized this project, Belgrade and Serbia as a destination for their investment.
We have already participated twice in the Cannes real estate fair MIPIM and are now getting ready for MIPIM 2016 in March. In addition, we presented the Belgrade Waterfront projects in other similar events as well, and we often organize presentations for our Diaspora because, as we said, we find it very important for this project.
And wherever we presented the project, it attracted so much attention.