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SGI won “Building of the Year” award

We are very happy and honoured to announce that we have just won “Building of the Year” award in the category “Green buildings” with our project – Izgrev 132.

This is the first residential building in Bulgaria that meets the BREEAM standard for sustainability and high-quality construction.

On the picture our regional director Tihomir Kazakov is on the stage accepting the award with the developer Martin Yanev from ACME (giving the speech).

Tomorrow (16th of December) the ceremony will be aired on Bulgarian National Television at 15.00 PM.

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SGI’s CEO shares new entre …

The main requirement of the new client is a meaningful functionality – optimal use of space in every room in the building. The facade should also not only be beautiful, but also have a function – for example, to be breathable, to be made of materials that are ageing well in time. These are the new requirements of entrepreneurs who come to our architectural bureau. They are aware that this product costs a little more, but it adds value to the building, explained architect Tihomir Kazakov, CEO Stephen George International.

For more detailed information on the topic, you can follow the link: https://gradat.bg/news/2017/11/09/3074389_balrec_2017_lipsvat_kachestveni_jilishta_za_noviia/

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SGI Bulgaria took participation  …

Our director Alexander Daw was one of the key speakers in the ‘Retail Buildings’ panel – a discussion about trends in design and redesign of contemporary retail buildings and interior design solutions for more attractive commercial areas.

You can check out the following link for more details about trends in design and redesign of contemporary retail

buildings: https://gradat.bg/news/2017/09/28/3049931_building_innovation_forum_2017_tendencii_pri/

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SGI participates in the First Na …

Our operational director and specialist in Industrial and logistical buildings Vladislav Dechev was one of the main speakers on the First National Conference for industrial real estates – BG Sklad, which took place this week in Plovdiv.

You can visit the following link for the video recording of the whole conference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1903&v=HNp_qD0mTGo

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An Architects Perspective on the …

A large part of an Architects job is working up front with developers to help them structure their business case before land deals are executed and projects become live. We get a preview of trends across the board where the major decisions are being made that will affect the market over the coming months. Aside from a few exceptions, Architecture is not about creating the next iconic monument for a city, as much as we would all love to, it is a practical endeavor to create attractive environments and buildings by responding to both financial and physical constraints. Essentially, alongside the client and the management teams, we design physical businesses that will significantly influence the bottom line for our customers for years to come.

The Property Market: Over the last 13 years, we have seen the same trends as everyone else, from the chaotic pre-crisis bubble through the financial crisis to land where we are now. We have been involved in large scale projects in Bulgaria through all these periods and have seen the changes in how companies and individuals procure and deliver projects over that time. Although the period pre-recession invites criticism, there were some examples of best practice starting to emerge, the advent of the independent project manager, the appointment of professional cost management, sustainable design and assessment are just a few services that were beginning to become established alongside foreign investment. These appointments seem to have only partially returned. We and others would certainly welcome a more unified and common practice approach to building procurement. Despite that, 2017 is a very active period producing some great projects, the quality of the delivery across all the professions in the construction industry is on a significantly higher level than ever before, the marketplace is healthily competitive and bad projects and bad practices are becoming unsustainable, retail clients demand more which means you have to be at least proficient to be prosperous.

Masterplanning and Large Scale Projects: Good masterplanning creates the place and generates the value. The majority of our workload locally and internationally is on mixed-use masterplans incorporating environments, workplace facilities and residential communities. It is a sector where SGI has a long history allowing us to bring to bear a significant amount of expertise. Garitage Park is probably the most prominent in Bulgaria right now and is a good example of how conflicting uses can be organized in such a way that they complement each other’s function and create a valuable and desirable property product. When we started Garitage Park the client was exceptional in their vision and willingness to look at best practice and invest upfront in their design and sustainability aspirations. They understood the benefits of this in the market place and are currently reaping the rewards for a commitment to delivering above and beyond what was typical for the market at the time of inception. A large part of bringing this vision to bare was committing to International standards for sustainability methodology, in this case BREEAM Communities, an internationally recognised route to improving, measuring and certifying the sustainability of large-scale development plans and a great tool for giving a practical framework to a sector that is still in its infancy.

The Residential Sector appears to be motoring along nicely and although there is a lot of development, there is still a strong, domestically driven demand. Wages are increasing year on year, people are genuinely looking for a better standard of living, especially over time as generations’ trade places and old building stock does not meet the expectations of modern living. Competition is keeping the prices low all leading to what we see as a competitive, but stable situation. How can we create a better product? More sustainable design and more focus on energy efficiency certainly. Generally post-recession there has been more attention given to the quality of floor planning design and quality living spaces that work efficiently. In the city the technical quality of apartment buildings is refining all the time. There are still some poorly executed examples being delivered and it has been a disappointment to see some projects going up in some areas which deserve much better. I think moving forward competition should help drive out some of the more flagrant examples of shoddy design and construction. Not all bad buildings are because of the Architects it has to be said, often developers who throw up poor quality projects are making design decisions and cost efficiencies midway through the construction phase which can have very negative consequences. On the flip side there is some fantastic design and some very mature Architecture coming out of a number of local practices at the moment especially in apartment and single house design. The majority of the professional developers have improved their spending of investment capital through the application of better technical solutions and a better understanding of where and how to spend it. I think it is safe to say that the residential property situation in Sofia is distinctive and governed by its own rules, it can take some time to fully understand the idiosyncrasies that make up the local psyche when it comes to choosing a home and developers can sometimes get fixated on these market pointers to the detriment of the projects themselves. The gated community phenomenon that is currently so prevalent is often regarded by city planners as a reflection of society’s ills, accused of creating physical barriers within the social structure of a city and exasperating class divisions, it would certainly be nice to see more government attention to security in some areas, a more open, connected and socially outward looking approach to residential sites would enable better planning solutions for the city. Generally the sector is looking stable, there may be some adjustment in the output of projects over the next couple of years as absorption rates settle.

The Office Sector: Construction budgets are still constrained by rental returns and earnings are still fairly low and efficiency in design is the name of the game, obviously a very active sector over the last year or so with a significant amount coming to market at the back end of 2018, also again some very good examples of workplace design from some of the larger Architects with some good additions to the city planned over the next five years. The challenge for the market place is what will happen to the buildings that are left behind as leases end and companies pack up and move to shiny new facilities. In our practice we have been seeing for some time a reticence in developers to engage in new office development, preferring to change use where possible. We expect that by the end of 2019 the market will need to catch its breath and will probably pause for a period as demand catches up with supply.

Summary: Broadly speaking the property sector in Sofia and Bulgaria has the potential for several years of solid growth, on the other hand it is hard to fully understand the pace and intensity of that development, much will depend on government policy and the level of foreign investment in IT, manufacturing and relocation. Sofia and other cities in Bulgaria offer a great platform, but are often overlooked by International surveys for investment and play second fiddle to Bucharest, there are small things that government could do to make Bulgaria more attractive and with Brexit and the other issues regionally this would be a great time to take a closer look.

Alexander Daw
Regional Director

Stephen George International

Business Center Bellissimo, Block A, 10th floor
102 Bulgaria Blvd., Sofia 1618, Bulgaria

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STEPHEN GEORGE + PARTNERS TOOK P …

James Nicholls of Stephen George + Partners recently took part in a Savills/CoStar roundtable debate alongside representatives from SEGRO, M&G Real Estate, Garbe, Barratt London, Big Yellow Self-Storage and the Greater London Authority (GLA) to discuss how London’s industrial sector is responding to increased demand, rent rises and a scarcity of available land.

With such prominent industry figures around the table the debate made for a fascinating insight on the latest thinking in industrial led mixed-use as multi-storey industrial and ‘beds and sheds’ become a necessity. A summary of the debate was published by CoStar to coincide with the annual Shedmasters meeting at MIPIM in Cannes Savills.

You can read James Nicholls’ reflections on the Savills/CoStar debate and why Stephen George + Partners is confident that logistics and residential can mix in our latest blog post: Mixingit up: unlocking a mixed-use, multilayered future for logistics

 

 

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LOGISTICS: A QUESTION OF SCALE …

Not too long ago, the idea of sleek modern offices or residential sitting above a logistics centre would have been unthinkable. But times are definitely a-changing. A shortage of available land, the demand for high-density urban housing and the unprecedented rise in online shopping have forced a re-think on the shape, size and consolidation of uses for logistics buildings in urban locations.

The growth of e-commerce demands logistics buildings be sited in accessible locations of high population to meet ‘last mile’ delivery for major retailers’ ever-demanding customers. In our recent Property Week article, we argued that logistics should be treated as essential infrastructure in areas of urban expansion to meet the growth of online retail and consumer demand. Urban logistics, we argued, would ensure minimal impact to the local environment and greater supply-chain efficiencies for local communities and businesses.

Yet, whilst consumers now expect cost-effective and speedy same-day delivery, they may not be so keen on living near a logistics park. Tackling the perception that residential and logistics do not mix is a key design challenge. Considering scale in the design of inner-city logistics will make them more appropriate for residential developments and therefore easier to integrate into mixed and multi-use masterplans. Supplied by parcel centres on periphery sites, small-scale micro hubs can consolidate uses, such as click-and-collect or fulfilment centres, reducing the requirement for height as goods will not be stored for long periods.

To mitigate key environmental issues such as noise, air quality and congestion, logistics operators could switch to light commercial vehicles to complete the final-leg delivery or service click-and-collect stations located for consumer convenience. Vehicles could be electric – or at the very least, alternative fuel. This, in turn, will impact upon scale – smaller scale electric vans will not only be cleaner, but will take up far less space and you would no longer require spacious yards to cope with multiple HGV manoeuvres. Smaller scale logistics would also reduce the perceived need to provide expensive and land-hungry mitigation measures such as landscaping and bunding.

We recognise, of course, that land in urban locations will inevitably be expensive. A single, small-scale logistics facility – however attractive it might be to residents – will perhaps not always be the most cost-effective use of land, particularly in areas of high demand such as London and the South East. The advantage of small-scale urban logistics facilities is that they give you space to build above, maximising the value of the site for landowners, developers and landlords. So perhaps rather than thinking about logistics sitting side by side with residential, particularly in space-constrained inner-city sites, we need to start thinking about these buildings being multi-layered, with office space, PRS housing or student accommodation sitting above ground-floor urban logistics facilities.

There are, of course, other hurdles for the industry to overcome if we are to make this multi-use, multi-layered approach work – not least will be the ability of different funding parties to work together in joint venture and with different funding streams for each use element. A good example of this is at St Pancras Way in Camden where student accommodation provider UNITE secured planning consent in partnership with Travis Perkins for a 564-bed scheme over a new trading facility on the ground floor.

The other major hurdle is, of course, ensuring that there is an allocation of employment land close to or within areas of residential expansion, such as in London or the cities of the Northern Powerhouse. This can be done via the call for sites and LDF process. Local Authority land is also available and the ‘One Public Estate’ programme will assist in identifying the best use of sites in these portfolios.

At Stephen George + Partners we’ve already had major success in delivering logistics adjacent to residential where understanding residents’ concerns and addressing them with design solutions enabled us to deliver our clients’, stakeholders’ and the market’s aspirations. {click here to view Dunstable}. However, we need to further educate local authorities, not only on the importance of logistics to employment and the economy, but also on the demands of the 21st century consumer.

James Nicholls, Stephen George + Partners

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DC2 PROLOGIS PARK DUNSTABLE RATE …

We are delighted to have been informed that the 28,808 sqm (360,000 sqft) distribution centre at DC2 Prologis Park Dunstable has achieved BREEAM 2014 rating ‘outstanding’.

The building, which has been shortlisted for the BREEAM Awards 2017, is the first industrial building to be assessed ‘outstanding’ under the BREEAM 2014 guidelines and the accreditation confirms Prologis Park Dunstable as the first large-scale distribution park to be fully certified as BREEAM ‘outstanding’.

DC2’s success follows that of its sister building DC1 which achieved a BREEAM 2011 rating of ‘outstanding’ and was shortlisted for the BREEAM Awards in both 2015 and 2016.

More information can be found at: prologis.co.uk

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