Case Studies

Lost & Found in Translation

Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, Poland

The Assignment
Acquire a property at public auction to develop into a regional shopping center in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski (pronounced “Ah-Stro-Vee-Etz Shvee-Int –Oh – Krisky”

The Strategy
As Executive Vice president and partner of Polimeni International, I was tasked with securing properties and planning the shopping centers we were developing in Poland. Our team identified a great site some 90 miles south of Warsaw: Some of the issues were a creek that ran through the property, a raised canal in the back, a new municipal road was needed on one side of the site to connect two main streets, and on the other side a public pool wanted part of the property for parking. The city just happened to own the dirt and we had to acquire it through public tender; our tenants signed leases written in two languages which were structured around three different currencies and had to satisfy three legal regimes. In other words, just another day in Poland.

The Results

Following a carefully choreographed strategy timed, literally, to the second, we won the RFP and acquired the site.  Tesco, , one of the largest grocery retailers in the world was a prospective bidder and competitor at the auction.  We neutralized this threat by joining forces  with Tesco, having them lease space as our anchor tenant, creating a triple-win scenario.  We literally created new legal structures for long term lease contracts, which were not previously allowable, to enable the necessary construction and permanent financing.  Our “double lease” model would go on to become the standard structure used by developers throughout the country.

Our engineers designed a system of permeable pavers for the rear parking lot to drain off any topping of the levee, and a humongo 10’ diameter culvert system in front to span the creek over which we laid the main parking lot, which also serviced the neighboring public pool.  We built the new road which dramatically improved access to the center and made an adjoining section of the property commercially viable; which we then subdivided and sold to French DIY retailer Castorama, for multiple times to cost of constructing the road itself, further improving the retail strength of the overall project. 

We broke ground on April 1st and it opened on Thanksgiving day, a blazingly fast 8 months for a 220,000sf covered shopping center – culverts, roads & all.  Well before then we had signed a “forward purchase contract” with First Property Group of London who closed on it shortly thereafter; Castorama built and opened their 110,000sf home store about a year later.

And while you can find “Mill Creek,” the “Stone Canal,” and “Polimeni Street” (as it was referred to by the locals) on a map, I don’t think our ¼ mile long road ever got a street sign or an official name!