What does the Danube mean to us?
A spectacular endowment from the nature, attracting and enticing masses of tourists. An element of the city view, implying a price advantage for owners of properties with a panorama. Annoyance for city people who have to cross one of the crowded bridges, twice a day. A transportation channel that is efficient, environment-friendly, not to mention safe.
Does the river mean any more than that?
London, Paris, Vienna, Prague and Budapest. A common feature of these capitals, considered to be the most beautiful in Europe, is that each of them is divided by a river. A riverâs power to attract tourists is unquestionable, but their role in freight transport is negligible in comparison with road carriage, dominating this industry. (In our country, the share of water carriage, on the basis of total freight forwarded, increased from less than 1% to a little above 2.5% in the years between 2003 and 2007. At the same time, the Danube casts a shadow over the city; the infrastructure investments underway or to be launched within a short time (such as the underground line No. 4, the collector channel being built on the Buda bank) and the bridge reconstructions (SzabadsÃ¡g hÃd, Margit hÃd) make life even more difficult with city transport that is sluggish anyway. In spite of that, until now, the river, as a potential playground for public transport has not even been mentioned yet.
Parallel to freight forwarding, travel on the Danube is limited to tourism
and private motorboat sailing. Still, in the morning peak hours, rolling slowly on the river bank, one remembers often that with a ship (a hydrofoil) the distance between the office zones of, for instance, Southern Buda and Northern Pest, could be made within minutes, almost throughout the year. Taking account of the dominance of the abovementioned two poles on the modern office market and of the tough competition between the office buildings, perhaps we should better not wait until this route, sadly forgotten, becomes connected again based on a government decision, into the system of city transport. In our opinion, there are realistic chances that developers of premium-level buildings located at some distance from the inner city, but close to the Danube, will give a thorough consideration to the possibility of including into the budget the launch and operation of a regular sailing service, in line with the needs of their tenants. Doing so, they could achieve special competitive advantages, in any case.
The proximity of the Danube â and, of course, the historic environment â holds a marketing value in the central portions of the capital cities, and each of the projects coming to the market put special emphasis on the location (e.g. LÃ¡nchÃd Palota â Chain Bridge Palace â Roosevelt 7/8, LÃ¡nchÃd 19 Design Hotel, Gresham Palace). If we look upwards the river, to the north and the south, the task of the developers looks to be an even more complex one. On the one hand, investors have an advantage, because they are in a position to shape the view of the Danube â within the approved limits â but on the other hand, their task becomes more difficult, because the large-scale areas next to the riverbank, underutilised and abandoned earlier, can be made valuable only on the basis of a comprehensive concept. Usually, in the planning process, the issue is raised whether or not a new city district shall establish contacts to the existing environment or the creation of a modern and special âislandâ?, separately, should be preferred. At these locations, in most cases, a mixed building concept is applied to reduce market risks connected with the investment, but in some areas, one-function (typically residential) construction is applied. We can see several examples of this in the northern areas of the Danube bank (Marina Part, 360Â° Budapest, Danubio Park, Prestige Towers, and RÃ³mai Terasse). In these investments, it is often the case that special services are offered to residential owners (porter and driver service, etc.), to give an advance on the exclusive character of the city area to be developed in the future, in the immediate neighbourhood of the project.
In the southern portion of the Danube bank, first, office space development became successful. As a result, the buildings of Infopark face the office buildings of Millennium Towers, Millennium Gate and Riverpark. Advantages from the proximity of the Danube are in the focus of efforts, with a mixedcharacter investment of Wing Zrt., at a location close to LÃ¡gymÃ¡nyosi hÃd, and the developer of DunaCity, a project planned in an area next to the river bank, with a length of 1.5 km. The success of the projects already realised is due not exclusively to the proximity of the Danube, but the river has played a certain role. A special development concept is underway in the Bay Project, where the creation of green areas precedes the construction of the different phases of office-building. Therefore, office tenants of the first phase, with a total area of 20 hectares, can already enjoy the benefits of a landscaped environment, as opposed to other investment projects, where landscaping regularly is the last step in the project. The creation of green areas is mostly only a liability for many office developers, rather than an element of competitiveness. Evidently, this shall be different in riverbank areas with fewer buildings in place, quite away from the inner city, because here, one of the greatest advantages is, in addition to the riverside view, that on one side of the project, there are no other buildings and never will be. As a consequence, the sensation of space is far more significant. It is of course a question, whether in a given project, it shall be an objective to make the area an attractive recreation space, or only tenants shall be provided with a nice working environment. If we look at the example of Infopark or (away from the market of commercial office space) that of the National Museum, standalone buildings and open spaces would be suitable to ensure that city people can use the neighbourhood in an active way. At the same time, due to the characteristics (or deficiencies) of the transport infrastructure, the parking capacity, calibrated to the initially planned functions, is insufficient to absorb greater traffic, and an expansion of that capacity can be reconciled with the existing efficiency requirements. (Cutting away an office park from public transport does not occur frequently on the domestic market, but for office tenants, private parking areas are created.)
In order to profit from the prestige and marketing values offered by the river, it is not sufficient to harmonise the given property development project with current demand, but a certain vision should be also available, where a special territory or working environment is created, as soon as the neighbourhood is fully arranged. That is, the basis for the concept is a dual approach, emphasising the individual characteristics of the project and embedding, at the same time, that development area, in an organic way, into the city context.
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