A first step to the redevelopment

A deal signed in July between Neinver and Polish State Railways (PKP) seems to be the first serious sign for the future Katowice’s redevelopment. It is planned to transform the Railway Station into a mixed-use complex combining rail travel with retail and offices, as well as an underground area designed for municipal transport services. CIJ Journal reveals that Neinver is working with transport experts from the Warsaw University of Technology and Katowice’s municipal transport company to move the bus hub, currently located at ground level in front of the station, entirely underground.

Neinver and PKP will set up a special purpose vehicle called Galeria Katowice to carry out the PLN 1bn (EUR 242mln) project. PKP will contribute the land in return for a 12 percent stake in the SPV, with Neinver holding the remainder, according to CIJ Journal.

The railway station will be reduced to a single-storey building, connected by a passage to a new building with five floors of retail and services along Szewczyka Square in front of the existing station and seven storeys of offices on the western side. There will also be a standalone office building on the eastern side. Some urban planners and architects have criticized the current plans, under which the new buildings would all but eclipse the original station building.

Neinver angered architects recently, by saying it would tear down the station’s ferroconcrete cup-shaped supporting pillars, a fine example of Brutalist architecture. Neinver says it’s due to the pillars’ poor condition, but many fear it’s a prelude for doing away altogether with reportedly cumbersome feature.

The new commercial space will include 52,000 sqm of retail and 24,000 sqm of office. “The colors and construction materials, as well as the space arrangement based on a pre-war concept, should go well with the existing surroundings,” claims PKP spokesman Michał Wrzosek.

“We would like to create a representative as well as an accessible facility in the city center, generating movement rather than enclosing it within a certain area as is typically the case with shopping centers,” says Antoni Pomorski, design manager at Neinver Polska, rejecting at the same time concerns that the project will overwhelm the old station building.

The rebuilt station and the shopping area will be ready by 2012, according to PKP’s Wrzosek. Construction of the standalone office building will start shortly afterward.

source: CIJ Journal