The Sava Center is indisputably an object that Belgrade citizens are eager to see reborn in new, luxurious splendor and open its doors to visitors of future events in the capital. The reconstruction of this magnificent building, one of Belgrade's most important chroniclers of modern history, is just etting started. Angelina Nekić, CEO of Delta Real Estate, explains what would be restored and what content would be offered in this object and announces the company's plans to invest about half a billion euros in new real estate ventures.
ANGELINA NEKIĆ, CEO, DELTA REAL ESTATE
Delta Real Estate ends this year with two new capital facilities in Belgrade, one of them is Delta House, the new office building of Delta Holding, which is designed according to the highest world standards. What does this standard mean from the point of view of employees who spend their working time there?
The very name of the office building unequivocally represents what we wanted to achieve with this project. Delta has always been a family, and every family deserves a home. Delta House is designed with a clear goal to express the values that we nurture. The importance of caring for people is emphasized here, and the entire office area is dedicated to them. It is designed to inspire creativity, to be comfortable and pleasant, and, most importantly, to be healthy for those who spend time in it. It gives me great pleasure to see that our personnel were aware of this and helped to make this facility radiate serenity, airiness, and pleasant energy. You can't expect anything less than excellent results when you work in such an environment.
DELTA HOUSE: NEW OFFICE BUILDING OF DELTA HOLDING
The Indigo Belgrade hotel, from the InterContinental chain, has been recently opened in the heart of the capital. What makes this hotel specific, since there are no two identical Indigo hotels in the world?
The building itself is a local heritage of Belgrade. That was both a privilege and a challenge for our team. With good organization, we managed to complete the offer of the city center with a large number of contents on a small number of square meters. On the ground floor and the first floor, there are retail stores of the LPP Group, which appeared on this occasion for the first time in Knez Mihailova St. From the wonderfully redesigned passage, which connects Knez Mihailova St. with Čika Ljubina St, you can take the panoramic elevator to the upper floors of the hotel. It has 46 rooms, a gym, and the restaurant Duke with a beautiful terrace. All rooms are divided into two different design types, inspired by different epochs of Yugoslav history: recognizable brutality and art deco style. There are many original details in each room that create a typical atmosphere of "old Belgrade," but at present. The interior design is the work of the "in-house" team which gives a unique character to this charming hotel. Indigo quickly became a gathering spot for our team which enjoys Serbian tapas together.
This hotel is introduced as the first in a series of boutique hotel groups in your extensive hotel portfolio. What new and attractive things are you planning in this sector?
Our long-standing wish is to return the InterContinental Hotel to Belgrade and Serbia. For this hotel brand, we "keep" a very attractive location in Block 20. With about 220 very luxurious rooms, this hotel will make the tourist offer of Belgrade very competitive. The project is expected to start next year. If you've ever stayed at the InterContinental Ljubljana, you know that hotel management is more than just a business to us and that we pay close attention to details in order to make every guest a long-term friend of ours.
The launch of the Delta Planet shopping mall in Niš, which was finished in just 14 months last spring, signified a good year for Delta Real Estate. What exactly did this 70-million-euro investment involve?
The wider city center, densely populated area and proximity to Nišava all provide excellent opportunities for a public facility like as a shopping mall. We like the dynamic design of the shopping mall, which, like in Banja Luka, is the result of Delta Real Estate's "in-house" team's efforts. The real challenge was to construct and negotiate a lease in the previous year marked by a pandemic. As pioneers in the construction of shopping malls, we are well aware of the requirements of today's consumers. A wide range of restaurants, cafes, cinemas, children's zones, and a large number of bars, where certain brands debuted in this city for the first time, have helped this Delta Planet quickly acquire the character of a regional shopping mall.
DELTA PLANET SHOPPING MALL IN NIŠ
Is Delta Planet in Niš now what you envisioned it to be – a popular hangout for locals and visitors from all around southern and southeastern Serbia? Do you intend to expand this chain?
Yes, the city of Niš has recognized the potential and attractiveness of our shopping mall. The attendance has been enviable since the first months of work, and the Delta Planet location has been the center of all events. We rearranged the city's riverbank and provided a children's playground as a gesture of thanks to our new neighbors. We share our visitors' joy that this city has finally acquired a royal shopping and entertainment place. We attempt to organize as many cultural and entertainment events as possible in the shopping mall, like exhibitions, children's plays, book promotions. Three Delta Planet shopping malls are opened in three cities – Banja Luka, Varna, and Niš. Our wish is to provide an unforgettable shopping experience to the citizens of other cities in the region.
Everyone in the capital is eager to know: when the reconstruction of the Sava Center will begin and what this iconic conference center will look like once it is finished?
We are aware that interest in the Sava Center extends well beyond our country's boundaries, and that this building carries significant emotional worth, particularly for us Belgraders, in addition to its cultural significance. These are all important reasons why, as soon as the contract was signed, we assembled the company's best teams of professionals, paying special attention to the selection of designers, contractors, and associates. Preparatory work for the reconstruction's start is underway, and the facade will be replaced this month. We have wanted to buy the Sava Center for a long time because we firmly believe that by renovating it, we can provide a new experience in congress tourism in our country. The new Sava Center will be a modern congress center with a diverse range of content and a separated cultural-congress and business-commercial part. In addition, Sava Center is linked by a footbridge with the Crowne Plaza Hotel, which is part of our portfolio. As such, this complex will form one functional unit. The contents of the new Sava Center will exceed the expectations of today's organizers. If you decide to organize a seminar, gala dinner, a small business meeting, or a congress, we will provide you with a variety of innovative solutions under one roof. Hybrid studios, exclusive restaurants, cafeterias, toddler zones, car rental agencies, and luxury retail brands are just some of the future contents.
Although the buyer of the Sava Center was required to invest at least 50 million euros in renovations, your investment will considerably exceed this amount. What does this investment include and what changes will the facility undergo?
The Sava Center has been declared a cultural monument. It is necessary to preserve everything that makes the building recognizable. During the entire renovation process, we will strive to pay tribute to the creator of this impressive building - Stojan Maksimović and his associates. We will keep the external identity and recognizable halls inside the building, such as the famous Great Hall and the Central Congress Hall. An insignificant level of investment during the 44 years of the facility's existence indicates that extensive and complete renovation of the space is necessary. We will replace the glass facade, which has been leaking for a long time, all installations, cooling and heating systems and technically modernize the entire facility. We consider the Sava Center as a driver of economic development in Belgrade and Serbia, which is why this facility must be an example of upholding the best standards in all areas, including the construction industry sector. We are considering several environmentally friendly options that will enable us to present the Sava Center as an energy-efficient and sustainable congress center. It is becoming a standard in congress tourism that we must strive for due to being a significant energy consumer.
When will the first concert in the newly renovated hall take place?
The building of Sava Center is one of the most complex and largest structures ever constructed in this part of Europe. Since this is a serious construction and engineering project, i.e., a complete reconstruction, rehabilitation, and adaptation of the facility to almost 100.000 m2, it is very ungrateful to predict. However, the time of the greatest pandemic and crisis has shown that, with good organization and a skilled team, no construction site needs to stop working a single day. After a string of successful projects, our team's excitement is unwavering. This project represents an extra motive to set an ambitious target in front of us: in two years, Sava Center awaits you in a new splendor.
What are your plans for 2022? Can we expect more facilities in the range of these opened this year?
Delta Real Estate is entering the new development cycle with so many new plans and ideas to expand and improve on its already high standards in every respect. When we look at our five-year strategy, in the next two years alone, we will start with investments of almost half a billion euros. We are currently focusing on the development of several locations, three of which are in Belgrade.
Text: JOVANA NIKOLIĆ
Photos: DELTA REAL ESTATE