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Westhill to invest €100 mln in Romanian retail projects

Sustainability

Westhill, a British provider of consulting and real estate development services, is set to invest €100 million ($135.3 million) in the development of two retail projects, a mall and a retail park, in two Romanian cities. 

Each project will take up an area of 8-10 hectares and will be finalized in 2010. A mall of around 50,000 square meters to include extensive leisure areas, in a city in the centre of the country. Beside its own real estate development projects, Westhill also carries brokerage activities for foreign funds. Each project will take up an area of 8-10 hectares and will be finalised in 2010, according to Andrei Panculescu, the commercial and acquisitions manager with Westhill's Romanian office. Westhill is yet to reveal the the locations of the future projects. “At present, we are the owners of two plots of land in two cities in which we are going to invest,” said Panculescu, adding “For the shopping centre, we are still in the phase where we are waiting to receive construction permits, and we'll start the project early next year." Westhill will develop a mall of around 50,000 square meters to include extensive leisure areas, in a city in the centre of the country.

The company changed its strategy a year after arriving on the domestic market, having been previously interested in entering the office market. At present, shopping centers and housing projects are the main target of the company. "We are interested in developing shopping centers and retail parks in cities with 150,000-250,000 inhabitants and to the extent to which we find good locations, we will also develop housing projects with blocks of flats of around 3-4 storeys," said Panculescu.

Westhill believes the Romanian retail market is not competitive at present because there are not enough brands on the market and prices are higher than in Austria and Hungary. At the moment there is enough retail space, a rising number of retailers will arrive, sales will go up and rents will shrink, which will allow retailers to be more competitive. Westhill uses its own funds to acquire land plots and hires companies to draw up plans of its projects. The company works with Benoy British architecture firm, with Gleeds British company in terms of project management, with WSP (GB) for technical and environment audit, as well as with Cushman & Wakefield and Eurisko real estate consultancies. The process of renting out spaces in the future mall has already started, with several pre-contracts having been signed with potential tenants. Beside its own real estate development projects, Westhill also carries brokerage activities for foreign funds. "Westhill has partnerships in England with investment funds appointing us to acquire real estate projects from the Romanian market on their behalf,” said Panculescu. Westhill manages 4 private investment funds. (pr-gb.com)

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