Adding Value to Real Estate
We have many years of real estate and construction industry experience.
In a nutshell, we Add Value to Real Estate.
Our work involves improving the status of assets that we already own, by determining optimal usage, leading to concept preparation / design supervision and, if we determine that our optimum benefit derives from development of the land, permitting and approvals, followed by construction procurement, project management, marketing and leasing or sales supervision, facilities management and, finally, asset disposal.
The second major component of our work concerns unearthing development opportunities which, for reasons that are always different, ‘stand out’ and our underlying responsibility is to be constantly sensitive to the economic forces which affect the real estate business: the cycles of supply and demand, over-looked sectors, under-valued properties, unrealised opportunities, in short to be invested in assets which offer the greatest long term safety for the funds that we invest, whilst allowing us to benefit from the value we add.
I hope you enjoy the web site.
Milestones in Britain & Hungary
I did my first development in London in 1979 at the age of 21, modernising a beautiful 18th century, brick-built former customs house with views over the river Thames. The end result was an impressive and high-quality residential property, later sold for a 300% profit. The property was located in Wapping, part of London’s Docklands and close to the City – an area which soon afterwards became a fashionable district for development.
During the 1980’s and into the early 1990’s I modernised and upgraded residential properties in the prime London boroughs of Belgravia, Chelsea, Knightsbridge and South Kensington, renovating them to a very high standard.
In early 1995 I moved to Hungary to develop an experimental and speculative commercial project in partnership with a local developer, and with the backing of a group of predominantly British investors, we developed the first western-grade light industrial space in CEE; the property (“BIPCo“) was fully leased to blue-chip tenants within 90 days of completion and remained fully occupied until its sale a decade later. The major tenants were Erste Bank, Nestlé, Panasonic, Pannon GSM and Pfizer.
During the late 1990’s, with the backing of mostly British investors, I renovated (and sometimes traded) commercial properties, including car parking, in-city warehousing and ‘B’ and ‘C’ category offices. Over the same period, in Croatia, I began to acquire land parcels suitable for developing villas and small to medium sized hotels.
1999 was a major milestone year, with the acquisition of a large, architecturally valuable and prominently positioned textile factory in Budapest, which presented a significant and unique office development opportunity. With the backing of Apollo Real Estate Advisors (AREA) of NYC, a complete and comprehensive modernisation and refurbishment of the derelict property was undertaken. Five years later the building (one of only four finalists for the FIABCI ‘Prix d’Excellence’ award for the best office building in the world), which comprised 28,000 m² of ‘A’ category space with over 600 car parking spaces, and which was by then 96% leased, was sold to an institutional investor. Some of the project photos can be seen on the Dorottya Udvar page.
In 1997 I acquired Jasz, an in-city logistics property, with good transport links. The building has 2,500m² of warehouse space and 500m² of offices. The property is adjacent to the XIII th District municipal offices, over-looking a park with a land-mark church and is surrounded by recently developed apartment projects. It occupies part of a city block which has been zoned for future residential development and the detailed development plan permits construction of approx. 9,000m².
What the business is now:
The business has a small head count, and our emphasis is on identifying special opportunities. The geography of our interest is still principally Hungary, but we are also interested in Croatia.
Concept drawings for the development of Karinthy
Karinthy is an outstanding development site close to the city centre in Budapest’s XIth District. It comprises 7,250m² of on-grade parking for approx. 200 cars and also has a number of small business premises and storage units. The general development plan permits the development of approx. 25,000m² of office, residential or student accommodation; its excellent public transport and superb local amenities make it suitable for all three.
Between 1999 and 2003 we undertook the renovation of a 28,000 m² derelict garment factory in the XIth district of Budapest.
Located close to the central business district, the 1911 building, re-christened “Dorottya”, was converted into ‘A’ category offices, including the construction of 610 mostly-underground parking spaces. The building was leased to excellent covenant tenants including: Accenture, Alfa Laval, Auchan, Coca Cola, Masterfoods, Pantel, Peugeot, Warner Brothers and Zeiss and the completed building was sold in 2004 to a French insurance giant. Project financing was achieved in partnership with Apollo Real Estate Advisors (AREA) of NYC, with 70% debt funding from HVB, now part of UniCredit.
The courtyard garden is an oasis of peace and an area of the property enjoyed by all the tenants – below it is one of the two underground car parks.
Dorottya won the FIABCI Prix d’Excellence award for the ‘Best Office Building in Budapest’ in 2002 and was one of four finalists for the ‘Best Office Building in the World’ award, in 2003.
Assets & Development Opportunities
Istria is the northernmost region of Croatia which, with its rolling green hills and pretty limestone villages, has often been likened to Tuscany. The architecture of its coastal towns, particularly Rovinj and Porec, show the strong Venetian influence and attract a large seasonal influx of multinational tourists.
The interior of the peninsula is largely unspoilt and some villages, notably Motovun, Groznjan, Buzet, Hum and others, retain a peaceful atmosphere and a patina which is at once calming and exceptionally pleasing on the eye.
Link to Istria’s web site: www.istra.hr/en
Northern / Central Istria is less than an hour from Trieste, 3-4 hours drive from central / southern Germany and within easy reach of the extensive highway network which interconnects Italy and Austria with Central and Eastern Europe.
Salez is an abandoned village, representing an exceptional hotel development opportunity; the coast and beaches are within 30 minutes drive. The village consists of 15 limestone houses, set in well kept farm land, with southerly views over the rolling hills of the Istrian peninsula.
Stroligi is a small village / settlement of six houses: one attractive limestone house is still standing and five are ruins, presenting an opportunity to refurbish the one good house and to develop five new buildings; nearby is the picturesque village of Groznjan, a well known cultural centre with a music festival that lasts all summer; the coast is a 15 minutes drive to the west. The property is terraced and nestles in a cleft of the south facing hillside, with views over the Mirna valley. The planned Motovun Golf Project is within five minutes drive.
Zamask is a parcel of development land located high on a ridge with long westerly views; the site is large enough for the construction of one or two villas and would probably be optimised by the construction of one prime villa.
The view is towards the historic walled hill-town of Motovun, which is a 10 minute drive.
Radetici is a development site near the west coast of Istria, within 15 minutes drive of Rovinj, Vrsar and Porec. Zoning permits the development of 3 villas (with sea views from the first floor), with swimming pools.
Grascisce is a site in south-central Istria with long views of the sea, 10km away. Planning is in process to permit the development of a gated community of 7
villas, all with pools and sea views.
Balini is a small cluster of old buildings, including an historic olive press, all with southerly views over the Mirna valley towards the famous hill-town of Motovun. Our acquisition is under negotiation.
NB: in the photo a renovated house with a swimming pool stands to the left, which is excluded from the property.
Bird & Bird (International) LLP
and Siegler Bird & Bird Law Office