One United Properties is a leading green developer of residential, mixed-use and office real estate in Romania. Its Office Division has a portfolio of approximately 136,000 mp GLA (completed, being developed or planned) across several locations, such as One Tower (part of the multifunctional project One Floreasca City), One North Gate, One Cotroceni Park Office (Phase I, currently being developed and Phase II, planned), a new real estate concept which comprises latest generation office spaces (coupled with designer residential units and a vast commercial area, as part of the larger One Cotroceni Park project), as well as One Herăstrău Office (where the company holds a minority participation, but which is operated by it).
In 2019 you became the CEO of One United Properties Office Division - how did your past experience help you fulfill this demanding position?
I started my career 14 years ago as a consultant in the industrial sector. During this period, I gained substantial insight into real estate transactions, and most importantly I witnessed four extremely different stages of the market: pre, mid and after the 2008 financial crisis and the 2020 pandemic. These demanding times shaped my professional experience in such a way that I became flexible enough to make good decisions in the most hostile situations. Working with One came as a natural step in my career, as I was already a cog in the system - I simply changed perspectives: from overseeing transactions to actually developing the buildings that are transacted.
How does the Office Division differentiate as a business unit on the market?
One Offices has a distinct business model, and its main advantage is its dynamic structure, that is often more advantageous than the more rigid model of international companies. The agility of a smaller player is extremely valuable particularly in the first years of development, when new projects are acquired, and the portfolio is consolidated. Our entrepreneurial DNA also gives us the advantage of swift reactions in times of crisis, as demonstrated during this pandemic.
This agility seems to have led to a strong footprint in the market. Can you please provide a brief overview and highlight some of the trends that are unfolding in the office space?
Our portfolio is distributed in several key points throughout Bucharest and is addressed to a wide category of tenants. We manage 5 locations that are extremely versatile budget wise, so every potential client is able to find its match in our portfolio.
The pandemic accelerated the "work near home" trend that enables a shorter commute and offers the option of all-inclusive services near the workplace. One Cotroceni Park is a good example, and the biggest mixed-use project in Romania, developed under the Live-Work-Play concept. Some companies, particularly larger ones, are going for a "satellite-office" model so the fact that we offer leasable spaces in Floreasca, Cotroceni, Pipera and Victoriei works perfectly for them.
An office is anything but a dull place these days and the idea of "premium" spaces is gaining more and more traction. How does this translate into the projects you're developing?
Our newly developed office buildings are branded with the international green certificate LEED Platinum, but also with the WELL certificates that attests the wellness levels perceived by employees. Before the pandemic, clients were mainly interested in the commercial terms of the lease (rent price, service charge, facilities, etc.), but nowadays attention shifted towards these certifications. Almost all companies are looking for ways to upgrade their classic offices and turn them into healthy, employee-oriented spaces where work feels less like a chore. Real estate is a fairly conservative industry, but we always searched for ways to integrate technology in our processes (e.g., leasing and selling processes became incredibly streamlined through software programs).
There is a perception that the Romanian real estate market is challenging, and that the attractive yields come bundled with high risks. Would you agree?
From a historical perspective, the Romanian real estate market evolved in a highly positive way and past challenges (e.g., infrastructure) that seemed insurmountable are now mere distractions along the way. As in other professional domains, real estate poses its specific challenges, but these can be easily overcome if you treat them with responsibility and attention to detail. Prepping, budgeting and researching are key phases in the implementation of a project and through them we mitigate potential unexpected risks. All in all, from our perspective the office market shows great maturity and stability.
From your fresh position as CEO at One United Properties Office Division, what are the main ambitions you are pursuing in the next two-three years?
My personal objective is to continue the same line of development, transforming the urban landscape and impacting the local community in a positive way. Both Floreasca and Cotroceni projects are representative of this vision, which are a staple of One's core values. We'll continue to concentrate our attention on mixed-use projects that revitalize the very fabric of the city by bringing both real estate and economic value through new jobs and investments.
Do you have a final message for investors that are eyeing Romania's real estate market?
In my experience, investors that make direct contact with the Romanian market are instantly seduced by the opportunities found here. We are big believers in Romania's growth potential and compared to other capitals in the CEE, Bucharest presents competitive advantages that cannot be found anywhere else. The biggest talent pool and the most advantageous tax levels are both found here so it's obvious how the Romanian real estate market is by far one of the most attractive in Europe. This view is backed by the impressive number of big players (both investors and tenants) that do business here.
- Share on: