“We can consider the current situation rather a signal for turning buildings’ quality criteria from ambition to reference. What we, as real estate developers, can do to contribute to the economic recovery is to provide work, living or entertainment spaces suitable for the current needs of our partners, our tenants. The key word is – flexibility” – Ion Rădulea, River Development CEO.
What type of adaptive measures the company / your project (s) needed? What were the lessons of this period?
The health and safety of both our team and tenants operating within River Development projects have been and are a priority to us, especially now. As for the company, where possible, our team members worked from home. For the rest of them, we tried to provide them with as many disinfecting and protection products as possible. We limited the number of internal face-to-face meetings and we conducted the external ones via video conferences. For the already completed and functional buildings in our portfolio, we have taken additional preventive measures for sanitizing and disinfecting common and technical spaces, including sanitizing common areas with a higher frequency, disinfecting contact surfaces, installing dispensers with disinfecting soap or keeping tenants up-to-date on WHO and local authorities instructions. What have we learned during this period? I consider that the pandemics have given us the opportunity to truly implement a number of business standards – from the importance of your products’ ability to adapt to customer needs (in our case, the ability to adapt office space to new rigors), to business partners’ relationships being flexible and the capacity of a company to re calibrate facing overnight changing realities.
What is the status of your current project(s) and investments planned for 2020-2021?
Same as during the pre-CoVid era, our developments focus on the construction of London and Oslo office buildings, part of the Sema Parc master plan, a project that we can consider the largest urban regeneration initiative in Bucharest. Through London and Oslo buildings, we will deliver over 31,000 sqm leasable area towards the end of Q3 2021, class A offices in one of the most dynamic areas of the Capital, the center-west area. Works on the construction site of the two buildings continued during the pandemics, respecting, of course, limitations imposed by the new sanitary context. We have tried to optimize the work on site as much as possible so that, at this time, we do not see any obstacles that would delay the initially estimated delivery deadline.
Which are the advantages of your business and products, going forward? What are your expectations from the public sector, state projects to support future business?
I don’t think pandemics dissolved the idea of a company’s headquarters/ office. Most companies and people who have experienced this period are waiting for the moment to return to the office. We can consider the current situation rather a signal for turning buildings’ quality criteria from ambition to reference. What we, as real estate developers, can do to contribute to the economic recovery is to provide work, living or entertainment spaces suitable for the current needs of our partners, our tenants. The key word is „flexibility” of the space because, beyond the space itself, the fitout stays to the company, but it is the developers’ responsibility to provide a versatile environment. When it comes to River Development’s development plans, this stands as an advantage and we can consider The Light One building, completed last year, a relevant case study, floors being provided with an efficient, cost-effective and versatile space planning, show-cased by the varied mix of tenants, from medical clinic to wellness center or headquarters for an outsourcing company. London and Oslo office buildings, now under development, are set on the same coordinates, as well. Regarding authorities’ involvement in supporting the business environment, I consider that the most important measures in the current context should oversee a balance between public system needs (that of collecting taxes) and the capacity of private entities to contribute to public expenses at a level equal to the pre-crisis period.
What transformations you expect in your sector?
We will certainly rethink the working environment, considering this both from the employer perspective and from the real estate developer one, as well. Probably, we all became aware these days of the importance of workspace flexibility, how significant this detail is starting with the design phase of a building, be it commercial or residential. When it comes to the office sector, the winning key stands for the spaces that could previously accommodate high density open-space areas and can now be converted into spaces that respect rigors imposed by the new safety context. We can expect a more flexible schedule of the companies – both for remote work or variable hours for coming and leaving the office. To us, as developers, such a measure translates into a longer daily usage of the building, respectively in the importance of providing an energy efficient building with an optimal service charge. The post-pandemic office will be the one that will effectively mix individual work areas with those for networking and collaboration, but it is to be discussed on a medium-term how will these new trends will be implemented into a proper space. As for the broad spectrum of complementary sectors, it is premature to make assumptions because we are part of a chain with interdependent links and we can relate to economic effects and their impact only after we see a relaxation of anti-pandemics measures.
What is your message to clients and partners?
We are all actors in an unpredictable social and economic context. Even if we do not know in detail what the post-pandemic reality will look like, the key to revival is, most likely, consistency. My message? Businesses should not give up their strategies, their own mission. Only by keeping our business ambitions high can we overcome present moments.
An article published in the exclusive supplement – “Market pulse report, Romania – The new normal” | June 2020
A property market tour, including major cities, with projects status and updated opportunities at the end of the lockdown in Romania – June 2020. | Essential news with the current status of further investments, clients and partners relations, new priorities for the post crisis cycle. | B2B communication report – to help you mark your statements during the changes period.
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