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Forest of skyscrapers without a coherent vision

19 of January '22

The Warsaw Archdiocese, the Social and Cultural Society of Jews in Poland, Ghelamco, BDI, Golub GetHouse.... What do these institutions have in common? Interests. In the coming years, construction of more skyscrapers may start in Warsaw . Some of them raise legitimate criticism and controversy - of a legal, architectural and social nature.

Thousands of apartments for rent, skyscrapers on a patch of preserved pre-war buildings and WZ decisions signed by politicians. Some investments are on hold, others change investors. Can residents of the capital count on any transparency in the processes that shape the space of their city?

Nycz Tower / Roma Tower

Roma Tower Roma Tower

photo: press materials

The construction of the so-called Nycz Tower, a joint investment by the Archdiocese of Warsaw and BBI Development, has comeunder question . The church-developer's investment will include a building with 62,300 sqm of rentable space. The height of the building is to reach 170 meters, and it will house offices, conference rooms, retail space, a fitness center and 245 parking spaces. The architectural concept is being prepared by the Juvenes-Projekt office .

Thanks to articles published by oko.press, the discussion about the irregularities in the adoption of the plan and the facilitation that officials at various levels introduced for this particular development has heated up anew. In 2017, the City Council, with the votes of Law and Justice (PiS) and Civic Platform (PO) politicians, adopted a local zoning plan for the southern downtown, allowing the construction of five high-rise buildings in the vicinity of Emilia Platter and Nowogrodzka Streets. This decision also gave the green light to the church project. The passed plan was criticized by residents and urban movements. A previously issued zoning decision at the site allowed for the construction of a maximum 42-meter office building. This, however, was not enough for the church authorities. We wrote more about the history of the skyscraper in an article dedicated to it. Warsaw councilors of the New Left filed motions for an audit of the Supreme Audit Office and an audit of the capital's City Hall for allowing the construction of the

Liberty Tower

Liberty Tower Liberty Tower

Two versions of the designed skyscraper's facade

photo. investor materials

Liberty Tower is a planned skyscraper located in Wola at the intersection of Grzybowska and Żelazna streets. It was designed by the American architectural studio Arquitectonica, which won the competition organized by the investor. The building will be 140 meters high, and its podium will include a hotel, while the tower section is planned to house about 500 apartments for rent. The design of the new building incorporates historic fragments of the walls and gates of the Warsaw Ghetto, along with the Duschik House, left over from the "Duschik & Scholze" ironmongery factory operating at the site, which was established in 1875-1876.

Liberty Tower

photo. investor materials

At the end of 2021, it was reported that Golub GetHouse sold the investment to the Singaporean fund AT Capital Group. Such a move may indicate an acceleration of the investment. Work was to begin in 2020, but due to financial problems this did not happen. The sale of the plot in downtown Warsaw will allow the company to pay off retail bonds on the company's other projects.

Skyreach

Skyreach Skyreach

photo. investor materials

Another Golub GetHouse project is the planned construction of a 170-meter skyscraper opposite the Warsaw Breweries, with 900 apartments for long-term lease. With 45 floors and a planned area, the average unit size will be 38 sqm. In addition to the apartments, the building is to include retail and service units. The Skyreach skyscraper was designed by Kurylowicz & Associates. Construction was to begin in 2021, but so far only the plot has been fenced off. However, the investor has already concluded an agreement to sell apartments to the LRC consortium and Atrium, which will be the operators of the apartments.

Sobieski Tower

Sobieski Tower

photo: UM Warszawa

We also reported recently that Warsaw authorities have issued new development conditions for the skyscraper at Zawiszy Square. The decision was signed not by officials directly responsible for planning, but by Warsaw Deputy Mayor Michal Olszewski. The building will be allowed to be 75% larger than anticipated over the past several years. In return, the investor will build a small street, which will mainly be used by him. The design of the office building, commissioned by Ghelamco, is being prepared by JEMS Architekci. The skyscraper is to consist of four parts with varying heights from 108 to 130 meters, which will rise from Ochota towards Zawiszy Square. The building will have 34 above-ground and 5 underground floors in its highest part, with a total office space of 43,000 sqm and retail space of 3,000 sqm.

Skyscraper in place of the Jewish Theater

Being one of the more active investors on the Warsaw market, Belgian Ghelamco is also planning to build a skyscraper on the site of the demolished Jewish Theater. Initially, a building was to be constructed on the plot at Grzybowski Square, which would also house the theater's headquarters. However, these plans have been changed, and the institution is to move to Wola, where the city is modernizing a building on Kasprzaka Street.

Wieżowiec przy pl. Grzybowskim

photo: Ghelamco materials

The construction of a skyscraper next to the Cosmopolitan, designed by Helmut Jahn, has been planned for years. The theater standing there was demolished in 2017 after Ghelamco took over the property two years earlier. The demolition took place despite the controversy it stirred up. Actors working there in a gesture of protest demonstratively staged "Fiddler on the Roof" outdoors - in Grzybowski Square. The residential community of the Cosmopolitan apartment building also tried to block the construction.

Wieżowiec przy pl. Grzybowskim

One of the published versions of the project

photo. investor materials

In 2021, after repeated revisions to the application, the Bureau of Architecture and Spatial Planning issued a decision establishing the conditions of development, quite specifically defining the shape of the future development, accepted by the conservation service. The passage from Grzybowski Square to the Nożyk Synagogue is to be preserved. This is to be achieved by undercutting the skyscraper to a height of 30 meters and a depth of 6.6 meters. The lower part of the building on the side of the square is to be withdrawn by 3.4 meters, creating an arcade at least 5 meters high. The highest point of the development is to be a 120-meter-high tower, stepping down toward Królewska Street.

Kacper Kępiński

The vote has already been cast

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