Grow with Warsaw: Changing the centre of Warsaw

What can Parade Square (Plac Defilad) look like in the future? Should it have towers in the heart of the city that will potentially obscure the Palace of Culture and Science? What needs to be done to make investing in the centre of Warsaw possible? How can residents and tourists be attracted to Parade Square? Experts from the real estate industry discussed the most attractive empty square in Europe at the sixth and the last workshop in the “Grow with Warsaw” series, a partner initiative of the City of Warsaw and ULI Poland.

Representatives of the Warsaw authorities met with the real estate industry on 29 November 2018 at the ZODIAK Architecture Pavilion in Warsaw. The workshop, which summarised the overall “Grow with Warsaw”series, was opened by Michal Olszewski, Deputy Mayor of Warsaw, who said: “The meetings within the “Grow with Warsaw” serieshave been extremely valuable to us. When planning the new centre of Warsaw, we want to take advantage of the experience of other cities, both Polish and foreign.

“During all of the workshops we have learned the perspective of actual businesses investing in our city. We have found out that the newly created Study on Conditions and Directions of Spatial Development of the City of Warsaw must be a more flexible document than before, so that it will allow for the implementation of various development scenarios. This also applies to local plans. We are looking for ways to draw up provisions to ensure spatial order in the constantly changing conditions of running a business.”

The changes planned around Plac Defilad were presented by Marlena Happach (pictured), Director of the Department of Architecture and Spatial Planning at the City of Warsaw and the City Architect. She explained: “When discussing the development of Plac Defilad, we do not have to look for revolutionary visions and projects. New concepts should include valuable elements that we want to preserve and projects that are worth pursuing. Only by compiling the old with the new, adding new functions and ideas, we can obtain a fragment of a healthy, multi-functional city.”

“Because comprehensive activities related to the development of Plac Defilad have been for years prevented by problems related to property ownership – unregulated issues of reprivatisation and claims of former owners not regulated by law, as well as the lack of legal solutions for stratum ownership, which hinders negotiations with the Polish State Railways (PKP) – the city wants to take small steps in the development of the area. While waiting for final solutions, the city plans to apply temporary solutions and implement those elements which are possible in the current situation.”

Dorota Wysokinska-Kuzdra, Chair of ULI Poland, pointed out that when it comes to the surroundings of the Palace of Culture and Science, the design should assume that the area must be alive 24 hours a day and be attractive to both the residents of Warsaw as well as visitors and tourists, emphasising: “This place should be full of life. That is why multifunctional facilities are needed here.”

Piotr Sawicki, Acting Director of the Economic Development Department (EDD) of the City of Warsaw, summed up the “Grow with Warsaw” workshops, and said: “A team will be created in EDD to support investors and guide them through the administrative path, as it is already in the case of other cities. Each project will have its official manager.”

He added that another priority after the “Grow with Warsaw” workshops was a creation of real high streets. The first market study has already been prepared and streets have been selected for the pilot action. The city also confirmed that it was ready to conduct joint ventures with private partners on its plots, including:

  • Within the streets of Szwedzka – Stalowa;
  • The Rozycki Bazar Quarter;
  • Around the National Stadium;
  • In the Warsaw Social District in Wola;
  • In the Gwardia Hall.

The first four locations alone provide possibilities to build approx. 550,000 sq. m of usable space for various purposes.

The city authorities declared that they are open to various cooperation tools, such as investments in public-private partnerships (in the form of tenders, negotiations, competitive dialogue, etc.), concessions, activities through JV and SPV companies. Tools of cooperation successfully applied abroad, such as LVC (Land Value Capture) or RFP (Request for Proposals) will also be analysed.

The English and Polish language reports from the workshop on “Changing the Centre of Warsaw” can be downloaded below:



The “Grow with Warsaw” workshops were organised by the Department of Architecture and Spatial Planning and the Department of Economic Development Office of the City of Warsaw. The partner of the series was ULI Poland.

Knowledge Partners were consultancy agencies: BNP Paribas Real Estate, CBRE, Colliers International, Cushman & Wakefield, JLL, Knight Frank, Savills. Legal Knowledge Partner was the Dentons law firm.

Reports from all the workshops can be found at:

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