All the major construction sites were active throughout 2020, and there was no shortage of demand either
Novaston is an independent real estate, asset and property platform consisting of the following companies: Novaston Asset Management, Novaston Project and Facility Management and Novaston Marketing Consultancy. We specialize in providing services in the field of real estate management, project management, facility maintenance, as well as marketing in Serbia and the region. We talked with Mia Zečević, CEO of Novaston Real Estate Platform, about the company’s operations during the coronavirus pandemic, about their success and future plans.
You are a company that manages numerous retail parks and shopping malls. To what extent has the pandemic affected their operations, and the retail sector in general?
After the outbreak of the pandemic, the retail sector was among the first to experience a sudden stop. However, retail parks, known in our country as outdoor shopping centers, have been working most of the time, so this concept has proven to be very resilient and good for doing business in different conditions. The fact that the mitigation of measures caused high interest in visiting the shopping centres, with all the safety and hygiene measures introduced, showed that people prefer enjoying in shopping centres and retail parks. In June last year, a new BEO shopping centre was opened in Zvezdara on as much as 130,000 square meters of built-up area, and at the end of October of the same year, the largest shopping center in the region, “Gallery Belgrade”, was open, spreading on 300,000 square meters. Recently, the Novaston platform participated in the process of selling two retail stores in Serbia between two influential investors in the Balkan region: NEPI Rockcastle and BIG CEE, as a specialized associate during the entire process, from the idea of buying/selling, through the complete due diligence process to the final signing of the transaction agreement. The real estate purchase agreement with a total contracted value of 61 million euros was signed in June, for retail facilities Kragujevac Plaza Shopping Center (total area for rent of 22,300 m²) and Kruševac Retail Park (total area for rent of 8,600 m²).
Did the pandemic and work from home affect the development of business facilities?
When it comes to office space, we are witnesses that construction has not stopped during the previous period. All large construction sites were active throughout 2020, during which several significant projects, i.e. business facilities were finalized (e.g. UŠĆE 2, Navigator 2, the last building within the Green Heart Complex). On the other hand, there is no shortage of demand either. There is a need for attractive business facilities that meet the conditions imposed by the pandemic. More and more often, investors are choosing to build buildings that include respecting distance measures, flexible work space, fresh air in conference rooms, contactless door opening, digitalization… We are currently working with large companies to develop such business facilities. One of them is the “Revolution” office space, with a gross area around 10,000 m², built by Granit Invest. Our company Novaston Asset Management, which is part of the platform, is the exclusive agent for renting this office space, which is currently following the latest trends in construction and interior design, with the application of green building standards, but also with the application of elements for COVID-19 prevention.
“Investors are choosing to build buildings that include respecting distance measures, flexible work space, fresh air in conference rooms, contactless door opening, digitalization”
Also, our platform is partner with companies Scheinder Electic and Novkabel in the development of the state-of-the-art business and logistics center in Novi Sad. The first project will be the reconstruction of the industrial hall of the former Novkabel factory into a high-tech facility with a gross area of around 17,000 m², which is expected to open in 2022.
What are your further plans?
Strategically speaking, our goal for the upcoming period is to further expand our business when it comes to the office space sector and the logistics sector. We have successfully continued cooperation with almost all major investors on the market, such as IMMOFINANZ, NEPI Rockcastle, GTC, Ikea Serbia, but we also established some new cooperation with large companies such as Scheinder Electic, MK Group, Aleksandar Gradnja, Novkabel. We are also continuing to expand in the region, primarily in Croatia. Significant projects in the tourism sector are also planned. We are part of the Petram Resort & Residences residential-tourist project, in north-western Istria, which offers more than 250 luxury properties for vacation or housing, spreading on a gross area of around 100,000 m². This is the largest project of its kind in Croatia. We also plan several projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, as well as on the territory of Kosovo.