By Michael Dembinski, chief advisor, and Dorota Kierbiedź, membership director, BPCC

This issue – the first of 2023 – focuses on the state of the Polish real-estate and construction in what is a turbulent time for the sector. The post-pandemic revolution in the way we work leaves significant questions over the future of commercial property. Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has created massive demand in Poland for logistics space, as well as having a significant effect on the Polish labour and residential property markets. These factors – plus inflation and a global economic downturn – make for challenging conditions.

In this issue of Contact Magazine Online, we offer you plentiful insights into the sector, with four interviews and 18 articles giving a comprehensive overview from multiple angles.

The interviews

Magdalena Szulc, SEGRO’s managing director for Central Europe, talks about prospects for the warehouse market – and the challenges facing the sector.

Wirginia Leszczyńska, chief operating officer of DL Invest Group, explains where she sees the growth opportunities in the Polish real-estate sector.

Tomasz Czuba, executive director, head of office agency & tenant representation, JLL Poland, sets out how he sees the current state of the Polish office market

Battered by the pandemic, trade fairs are bouncing back. President of the board of Targi Kielce, Andrzej Mochoń, talks about how plans to extend Targi Kielce were thwarted, and how they are rapidly returning to life.

The articles

Overview – PRS – ESG – Legal

Maciej Boryczko Iwona Gielo-Benza from law firm Gessel cast a lawyer’s eye over the state of the Polish real estate market, while consultants from Cushman & Wakefield compare and contrast the situation in Poland with global markets, and pinpoint the value.

The post-pandemic return to the office by employees accustomed to remote work is critical from the point of view of landlords, developers and investors. Getting hybrid work right is the key, says Anna Korwin-Kulesza from Globalworth Poland, and that means rearranging office space so it meets the needs of the new ways of working. The role of HR in attracting employees back cannot be overstated – and then neither can the role of top-quality, ergonomic office furniture. Here are the five key principles that shape a successful and sustainable work environment, according to Kinnarps.

There is much interest in the private rented sector (PRS), where private-sector institutional investment develops residential property for rent. Poland has a great shortage – and a great need – for this type of property. Piotr Staniszewski from Dentons provides an overview of the sector. The sector grew by 40% last year alone, according to Knight Frank, albeit from a low base, and has massive upside opportunities, according to the real-estate consultant’s latest report. But do PRS developments qualify as residential property (0% VAT) – or as an accommodation service (8% VAT)? Tomasz Krasowski, and Marcin Czajkowski, from Dentons’ tax team consider the fiscal implications of investing in PRS. Another remedy for Poland’s housing shortage is the conversion of redundant retail space into residential units. Piotr Brzózka from Osborne Clarke and Rafał Kran from MDDP consider the legal and fiscal implications.

The ‘E-for-environment’ in ESG is possibly the most important issue facing investors, developers, landlords and tenants right now. The demands of ESG require a completely new approach to business. Baker McKenzie’s Paulina Pawłowska highlights the necessary areas of transformation. Technology plays a vital part in lowering a building’s carbon footprint and making it more comfortable to work in. An excellent example: Sonte makes windows that cut solar heat and offer privacy at the flick of a switch. Solutions such as this will help with obtaining good scores on energy performance certificates, which come into force in April. These will create new obligations and costs for owners and lessors. Malwina Jagiełło from Kochański & Partners explains. Arup’s Steve Walker looks at the design applications of GPT and asks if your next building will be built by artificial intelligence.

Decarbonising the construction sector will be a long process, but there’s not much time left! Zofia Aniołkowska from Gleeds Polska sets out a roadmap for decarbonising construction sector, assessing transition risks and how these will affect developers, landlords and tenants.

Katarzyna Chwalbińska-Kusek, head of ESG and Sustainability at Savills Poland, offers her Top Ten real-estate sustainability trends to look out for in 2023. ESG in real estate should be considered in long-term perspective, according to CBRE’s Paweł Kotlarski. You have to think and plan with 2050 in mind, he says. And there’s help from the financial sector – building green can be cheaper, as banks offer preferential terms for real-estate developments with a lower carbon footprint, says HSBC’s Wioletta Bratoszewska.

Finally, two interesting legal articles.

Bartosz Wszeborowski and Aleksandra Nowacka from PCS Paruch look at employment law as it applies to the construction sector, where cash-in-hand remains shockingly commonplace.

An arcane peculiarity of Polish real-estate law well-known (and baffling!) to foreign investors is the ‘right of perpetual usufruct’. Michał Prochwicz, Piotr Jaworek and Mateusz Laska, at Bird & Bird analyse its future.