October 01, 2003

Central Europe’s New Brownfield Malls

Thanks to the efforts of a local NGO, Vankovka, a new development in Brno, Czech Republic will preserve an historic brownfield site and incorporate community services into new mall development. The site was purchased by the city of Brno and will be developed by the German firm ECE.

Next to a new shopping mall, in the refurbished premises of an old foundry, the NGO Vankovka will have two stories for community services and cultural events. The space will consist of two large meeting rooms and an information center.

Vankovka is also working on a proposal to create a regional technology information centre orientated mainly on children, families and young people, which would be developed in an old machine workshop. This would be the first such a centre in Czech Republic and it is being modelled on one located and operating in Brno’s sister city of Rennes.

Pragmatism on both sides seems to have benefited the developer as well as the NGO in this project. ECE had an easier permitting process than normal, while Vankovka has succeeded in directing some of the development benefits towards the public good. Due to its involvement on since 1993, when the factories on the site stopped production, the NGO secured its position on the site. Although the NGO’s initial objectives for Vankovka was to save all of its unique architecture, the final result is a compromise. 10 years later, lack of maintenance has destroyed some buildings, and others will be torn down to make way for the new mall.

Vankovka also organized a traffic workshop which succeeded in influencing some of the access decisions made by ECE. There was a 40% reduction in the number of parking spaces originally planned, though 1,000 new spaces will be created for the mall. The workshop also led to improvements in pedestrian safety in approaches to the site.

Manufaktura – Poland

In Lódz, Poland, a 27-hectare site currently housing crumbling factory buildings will be restored for education, service and commerce. Before Manufaktura opens in 2005, the development company Apsys will restore 36,000 square meters of brick facade and 12,500 square meters of glazing, then excavate a river beneath the site.

“What will set Manufaktura apart is that it will use 12 historical buildings for education, entertainment, service and commerce,” Nicolas Roque, marketing director of Manufaktura, told the Warsaw Business Journal. “To this we will add a mall with 250 shops and a Géant supermarket. We want to make Manufaktura into a new city-district centered around a large, three-hectare square, which Lódz does not have right now.”

In addition to its shops, Manufaktura will house a hotel and conference center, a home and garden center, a flower market and a promotional center for the fashion industry, two museums, a Cinema City multiplex cinema, Imax cinema, bowling alley, swimming pool, two-level nightclub and a roller-rink. Apsys predicts that the site will attract 900,000 visitors per month.

Unfortunately, the project does not include improved transit access to the site. Instead, the developer plans to modernize three streets near the complex. To further boost private vehicle access to the site, a new 3,500 car park will be built.

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