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Condo hotel for the rich. A square in the Old Town will disappear

11 of August '23

It will be a spatial revolution. A massive contemporary building will grow on a never-built section of Poznan's Old Town. Construction of the hotel with condo apartments is expected to start in the fall and last three years. As always with revolutions, the investment has its bright and darker sides.

This is not the first announcement regarding the triangular plot of land on Zielona and Lewandowska Streets, three hundred meters from the Old Market, next to Chopin Park (the oldest in the city) and Zbigniew Zakrzewski's greenery-saturated Zielone Ogródki square. As early as 2019, Structure Capital showed the first concept of the hotel building. However, the almost completely glazed mirrored block did not arouse anyone's enthusiasm, led by the Office of the City Historic Preservation Officer. So for the next year, further work continued on the development of the unique plot.

truncated park

The triangular plot, although located in the dense structure of the Old Town, was in fact never developed. Instead, until the late 1930s it was part of an extensive park (originally an 18th century garden) at the back of the former Jesuit college. Since the 19th century, the building has served various institutions, and for more than 60 years it has housed the City Hall. Just before the war, the park, established on a rectangular plan, was cut through, building an extension of Podgórna Street. This was to improve east-west transit through the downtown area, which at the time had a rather convoluted street structure. The newly pierced street significantly reduced the park, and the triangular expanse of land cut off from it began to function separately, as an overgrown wild green square and, in part, a parking lot. The space is bounded by Zielona and Janina Lewandowska Streets (under this name for several years, formerly part of Podgórna Street) and the blind walls of tenement houses, to which—except for a small outbuilding—no buildings have ever adjoined.

ul. Lewandowskiej, Poznań

Lewandowska Street, Poznań—view from the east of the site for a new hotel

photo: Jakub Glaz

Shown in 2020 and refined a year later, the project became less ethereal and took on more concrete shapes. The facades of the contemporary block gained „fleshiness” thanks to rather deep grids of regular divisions—alternately: wider and narrower. Such a solution is common in new developments in Poznan's Old Town. The division of the uniform façade into smaller planes is intended as a reference to the row of townhouses in the street frontage. Since the 1990s, this procedure has been favored and not infrequently suggested to designers by preservation services.

Y3 Signature Hotel, ul. Zielona/Lewandowskiej, Poznań, wizualizacja

Y3 Signature Hotel, Zielona/Lewandowska Street, Poznan, visualization—view from Chopin Park, design: Andrzej Leszczynski / Structure Analytics (2021)

© Structure Capital

not a hotel, not apartments

The new design also features a dynamic and somewhat pretentious line along the first floor, transitioning into a rounded arcade of the main entrance at the corner. The arcade and the line-glazed service first floor were intended to give the building a lighter character. The corner was further accented with an alternating arrangement of windows. The last two floors of the eight-story building were withdrawn to weaken somewhat the impact of the sizable mass and to refer to the cornice lines of the surrounding tenements. The developer reported that the design work was led by Andrzej Leszczynski, and all documentation was developed by Structure Analytics and The construction permit for the hotel building with underground garage was granted to Structure Fund Delta in November 2021, but—so far—no work has started.

However, the investor recalled itself a month ago, announcing the start of construction this fall, while showing visualizations coinciding with those from two years ago. Apartment sales have been underway since July, because—unlike in 2021—the building will no longer be a typical hotel (it was to operate under the Barcelo brand), but a condo building (now as Y3 Signature Hotel). One hundred and ninety-seven one- and two-bedroom units will therefore be sold separately for profitable rental administered by the building operator. Spaces: from about 20 to about 40 square meters. The building will also feature a reception, lounge area, bar, restaurant, gym, spa, business space and underground parking.

Y3 Signature Hotel, ul. Zielona/Lewandowskiej, Poznań, wizualizacja

Y3 Signature Hotel, Zielona/Lewandowska Street, Poznań, visualization, strong corner accent at the intersection of the two streets

© Structure Capital

may anchor

Thus, in the heart of the city, there will be a hybrid of a hotel and creatively treated residential for investors with fatter wallets. At the same time, the hotel function exempts the investor from providing parking spaces in the number required by city regulations for residential buildings. It is true that a streetcar runs along Lewandowska Street, and the nearest stop is a hundred meters from the project, but if numerous owners and tenants insist on using cars to reach the building, traffic on the surrounding narrow streets will increase significantly. Especially since access is only possible from the Zielone Ogródki square and the now very quiet Zielona street (only the streetcar goes along Lewandowska street).

ul. Lewandowskiej, Poznań

Lewandowska Street with streetcar tracks—view from the west, the area for the hotel on the right, on the left—behind the frame—Chopin Park; in the background—an office building on Zielone Ogródki Square

photo: Jakub Głaz

Feelings about the new development can therefore be mixed. On the one hand, the building will obscure the view of the squalid blind walls of tenement houses and outbuildings on Zielona Street (but it will not be adjacent to them, as the area now occupied for parking remains in other hands). It will also shield from view the blind wall facing the modernist office building in view of Lewandowska Street (pictured above).

ul. Zielona, Poznań

Zielona Street, Poznań—view of the site for the hotel; the plot behind the hedge occupied by the parking lot will not be part of the development; in the background the Baroque parish church is visible

photo: Jakub Glaz

It also makes sense to enclose the view from the adjacent Bernardine Square with a dynamic corner. On the other hand, the eight-story massive building seems overscaled, especially when viewed from the park below the level of Lewandowska Street. Its expressive form may also dominate the space, diverting attention from the baroque buildings of the former college and the city's parish. The winners will certainly be the condo hotel's tenants, who without similar „distractions” will be able to admire the historic and green surroundings from their windows.

planners didn't think

Finally, it seems reasonable to ask whether the existing square should not, at least in part, have remained an area designated for greenery—so that there would be a chance to create a friendly green shortcut between the park and the Green Gardens (today it is prevented by a fence from two decades ago, but this is something to change). City planners, however, have not had a chance to address this issue. As for most areas of the inner city, the plot for the hotel does not have a local plan, nor is work on drafting one underway. The building permit was issued on the basis of development conditions.

We are expected to see the results in 2026, provided, however, that the investment really takes off. Structure Capital has so far completed, one Poznan building—a townhouse on Podgórna Street, not far from Zielona Street. For more than a year it has also announced the construction of a neighboring townhouse (we wrote about this a year ago). Despite a very intensive advertising campaign—no major work has started there so far.

Jakub Głaz

The vote has already been cast

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