“In my view, what we are seeing today is more or less what we were seeing in the very beginning since we came to Romania in 2003. We are active in almost every sector, office, industrial, commercial, but clearly, our focus has been residential. Pre-COVID, we have seen that there should be and there is a big demand for housing projects. It was amazing for me when I saw a statistic, that in Bucharest 91% of the people are living within the city centre and only 9% of these people are living outside of the city centre at the time of this research. In other peer cities, instead of 91%/9%, the numbers are 80/20, 70/30, or even 60/40. In Warsaw it’s 57/43.
Alex Skouras (right), Managing Partner at Alesonor Real Estate Development
Obviously, there are various reasons why this is happening, but for me, this was a clear direction where we were seeing that the real estate segment was going. And this is what actually started Amber Gardens, which is a residential project in the Otopeni-Tunari area. It was the first housing project with green homes developed in Romania, and we actually felt the market, and we saw that people are needing an even wider range of housing: not just bigger, more expensive houses, but a clear sense of community.
With COVID coming, in my view, it worked as a catalyst accelerating the trends that were already there in the market. People started experiencing their homes. They were not just waking up in the morning going to the office and then coming back late at night and sleeping and the next day the same thing, but they started living in their house. They’re living in their home 24/7 for weeks and months, and they started realizing the quality of life that they are having, as business people, as husbands, wives, parents. And what we have seen coming pre-COVID, and after, when clearly the acceleration has been huge, was the importance of community which a real estate developer is able to create, first by designing it and then by building it.
So we bought 31 hectares three years ago and we envisioned a community, a lifestyle, and an ecosystem of families which trusted us because clearly, they are our target group. Young families, trusting us with our vision aligned with their vision of creating a neighborhood that we all used to have 20-40 years ago, in Romania, in Greece, in many countries, but now, unfortunately, doesn’t exist anymore. And young families prefer to have their own place, not only within the house, so we are zooming out from the house towards the community and what a family would be needing. They’ll be needing a kindergarten, a school, a supermarket, fresh food market, and area where they can work.
We’re also talking about a small clinic, we are talking about restaurants, coffee places, a 5-ha park within the housing project, a 4-kilometer bike lane, a running lane, all types of sports: tennis, football, swimming, handball. It’s actually a lifestyle. It’s something that somebody would be proud to share this type of values with the developer, with the client, and finally the clients among them. Because the clients that will be actually buying are people with the same vision as us, and I’m very happy to say that we have sold more than 220 houses already. It’s about a vision about how they will be living their lives, and how their children will be living their lives. Sharing a community with people with a similar vision, for me, it’s much more important than having a big, beautiful house. We are building only 15% of the land, 85% of the land is actually not built area, so you are able to provide to your children a life with everything they might want: playrooms, gardens, riding their bicycles on the streets around.”