Monday, July 9, 2007

Booming Bratislava

The Houston Chronicle:

Auto industry just one driver of Bratislava real estate boom


The flourishing auto industry is one of many factors fueling a steep increase in real estate prices in the Bratislava region of Slovakia.

The rise was also sparked by Slovakia's entry into the European Union three years ago, which brought many foreign companies to the country and generated still more jobs and opportunities.

The resulting building boom is transforming the capital as older houses are torn down and replaced by apartment buildings.

"The most extreme growth has come in the last six months," said Milan Misik, a consultant with Arthur Real Estate. "There is more demand than supply, and in Bratislava there is practically no unemployment, and the economy is going well and loans are available so there are a lot of investors now."

Young Slovaks who have found good jobs have pushed prices up about 25 percent in the last year, said Misik, who worked as a geophysicist and an engineer before he decided to go into the real estate business six years ago.

"You can feel that things are booming," he said. "It used to be no problem to get help with construction, but now it's very hard to get anybody.

"Development has gone wild. The developers want to build as much as they can. They get a permit to build eight stories but just keep building, and it's a problem for authorities to stop them."

He said some of the city's historic buildings are being sacrificed in the rush to create mixed-use complexes that combine retail stores, restaurants, offices and apartments.

"The Danes just bought a 100-year-old brewery, and I'm 99.9 percent sure it will end production and be turned into shops and apartments," he said.

and, from this one:

Unemployment in Bratislava is so low that plant managers bring in a substantial number of workers from other parts of Slovakia and house them in old Soviet-style dormitories next to the plant for the five-day workweek.

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