Business Review talked to representatives of Speedwell, one of the most dynamic developers on the Romanian market, about the company’s projects, perspectives, sustainability strategy, urban regeneration, and the transit-oriented development concept, in an exclusive BR interview.
Main photo: The MIRO offices Bucharest
Sustainability seems to be the keyword on everyone’s minds these days. What can you tell us about Speedwell’s sustainability strategy and how you implement it in your projects?
Green buildings and sustainability are definitely trends that are going to stay and revolutionize the real estate market. The implementation of sustainable development norms has become widespread worldwide in the construction and real estate industry. Romania started to catch on as well in the past years.
We, as developers, carry a lot of responsibility when it comes to this matter. That is why we want to go further than introducing sustainability in our projects because of all the hype that has been created around this concept. At Speedwell, one of our core values is our ability to build long-lasting projects so that people can enjoy them for a long time from now on. We don’t want to sell a word; we want to present a way of living to our customers that consists of improved quality of life.
Our sustainability strategy is reflected in how we create all our projects – 100% designed based on the community’s needs, aligned to green real estate standards and market demands. Our team pays special attention to various aspects of the design and building process to guarantee the residents’ health, wellbeing and needs, through the project’s measures towards energy and water consumption, land use and ecology, health & wellbeing, pollution, and transport. This also translates into designing projects to obtain green certifications.
BREEAM, one of the world’s leading sustainability assessment methods for buildings, is one of the benchmarks we use to align to the highest international standards. Projects such as RECORD PARK in Cluj-Napoca, THE IVY, and MIRO (also WELL certified) in Bucharest, PALTIM in Timișoara, will be BREEAM Excellent certified.
These certifications provide a framework and the support we need to implement sustainable solutions cost-effectively while creating safe and healthy environments for the wellbeing of our clients.
With several new mixed-use projects in your portfolio, is this becoming a trend for your company?
I would not call it a trend since it’s at the heart of Speedwell’s projects from day 1. We instead see it as a focus for all our developments and it all starts from a concept – the Transit-Oriented Development. This translates into bringing all functions of human life within close distance, be it working, housing, and retail, and/or leisure.
Our portfolio includes a few mixed-use projects: RECORD PARK – located in Cluj-Napoca, with a facilities mix intended for the community’s comfortable living, including residential, offices, retail spaces and sports, PALTIM in Timisoara – designed with residential, office, and retail components and even THE IVY (residential) and MIRO (offices) in Bucharest, for a better work-life balance.
We continuously explore the future of the mixed-use marketplace. We are constantly improving our developments by finding the right blend of amenities and tenants to make life more convenient for the community.
Our current and future perspective is aligned to the same strategy of development we have used from the start.
With the first half of 2021 almost up, how can you sum up the residential, retail, and office segments in Romania in this period, and what are the perspectives for the near future?
Despite the challenging period, we have crossed this past year, we believe in the evolution of the real estate market in Romania. We are optimistic about the direction it is heading in for all the segments – residential, retail, office, or industrial.
One of the positive impacts of the pandemic is represented by the increasing demand for quality developments. It’s a standard we have always stood by, and we are happy more and more buyers expect to find it and become more appreciative of this kind of development. We are certain things will head in the same direction, and quality will become one of the buyers’ basic requirements.
As work from home continues and companies are looking to come back to the office, they are looking into safe environments that put their employees’ wellbeing in the first place. This, too, creates a new standard that we apply to our current office projects, such as MIRO.
From the residential perspective, as more and more people have experienced work from home, the demands are oriented towards greener, healthier projects that are offering spacious units with efficient layouts. Residential spaces that boost the quality of life and ensure more fulfilling ways of living together.
In recent years, urban regeneration projects are truly reviving previously decaying city landscapes, and Speedwell is involved in its project with Record Park in Cluj-Napoca. What can you tell us about this topic?
Urban regeneration means reimagining spaces and creating new contexts for communities to develop.
On the same sustainability note, developing projects on brownfields instead of greenfields, comes with many benefits. For instance, we are helping to recreate neighbourhoods by giving back to the community a space that was not used at all or its fullest potential before. Each city has underdeveloped or unused areas. Creating a new neighbourhood contributes to establishing a balance and putting less pressure on the existing infrastructure.
We currently have two urban regeneration projects in Speedwell’s portfolio: RECORD PARK, recently completed in Cluj-Napoca, and PALTIM, the mixed-use project we will soon launch sales for in Timisoara. Both locations are former industrial sites that were abandoned.
More than that, we focus on bringing back the character and sense of those places. We do our best to preserve history. We do that by using the initial name as inspiration for the new one and, more importantly, we refurbish the historical buildings that can be repurposed. We did that at RECORD PARK, with a 200-year-old building, and we are going to do it again, at PALTIM, by renovating a monument villa and a former building part of the hat factory.
Another critical trend in the real estate industry is transit-oriented development (TOD). Can you explain this concept and tell us how Speedwell is applying it in its projects?
TOD stands for transit-oriented development, the exciting, fast-growing trend in creating liveable, sustainable communities. This makes it possible to live a lower-stress life without complete dependence on a car for mobility and survival. We develop our projects around this concept by diversifying and mixing offices, retail and residences altogether. This way, we conceive a city within the city that the public embraces as the most desirable places to live, work, and play. We have used a recipe for most of the projects mentioned before: RECORD PARK, PALTIM, and THE IVY and MIRO.