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240. Bulgaria's Black Sea airports to have new terminals in 2011

Wise Property: 2008-09-05

Bulgarian Black Sea airports of Bourgas and Varna will boast new passenger terminals in 2011Bulgarian Black Sea airports of Bourgas and Varna will boast new passenger terminals in 2011, the firm that holds the concession on the two airports, Fraport Twin Star Airport Management, has said.

The terminals will cost more than than 65 million euro to build, of which 36 million euro will be spent on the Bourgas airport, 26 million euro on the one in Varna and seven million euro will be go to design and project management.

The Bourgas airport will have a larger and more expensive terminal given the bigger tourist numbers and bed capacity of the country's southern Black Sea coast. The airport serviced 1.6 million passengers in the first eight months of the year, compared to 1.1 million who landed at the Varna airport.

Fraport will launch the procedure to pick the main contractor by end-September, with construction set to start in mid-2009.

The three-storey buildings will have similar design, with the luggage handling area underground, luggage pickup and check-ins on the first floor, while the second floor will host security and departure areas. The two terminals will not be equipped with airbridges, so passengers will be transferred by buses, Fraport technical director Karl Mai said.

The project will follow the requirements for seaside airports, which handle high number of passengers over short periods of time.

239. Construction of bicycle lane in Sofia on track

Sofia Echo: 2008-09-05

The construction of the first new-age bicycle lane started in Sofia on September 1, but the official launch date will be September 8 when all documents will be signed, Sofstroy infrastructure department manager Mitko Berberov told The Sofia Echo on September 5.

The privatised, formerly municipal company Sofstroy started constructing the bicycle lane along Evlogi Georgiev Boulevard in Sofia by removing the old tiles and replacing them with new concrete blocks. The bicycle lane will be separated only by road marking from the walking area, Berberov said, in line with cyclists requests and the initial project.

The cyclists wanted no kerb stones to separate the bicycle lane from the pedestrian path, as this could be dangerous, Delyan Spasov from Bikevolution association told The Sofia Echo on September 5. Bikevolution, Sofstroy and Sofia municipality representatives had previously met to discuss what kind of road surface should be used for the new bicycle lane. It was not possible to use asphalt, as the machines would destroy the green area surrounding the new bicycle lane, constructors said. The project stipulated that the covering would be composed of concrete blocks measuring 2x2m and 2x3.2m.

According to the project, the bicycle lane has to be completed within three months. As previously reported by The Sofia Echo, it will be more than five km long and will run along both sides of the Perlovska River to the intersection of Evlogi Georgiev Boulevard with Gourko Street. From there, it will proceed only on the western side of the canal. The bicycle lane will be 2m wide in some areas and in other areas, where its combined with a pedestrian path, the width will be 3.2m.

The new bicycle lane is part of six bicycle routes planned by Sofia municipality to connect opposite ends of the city. According to the programme for management and development of Sofia municipality 2008-2011, the lanes will have to be built by the end of 2009. However, the bicycle lane parallel to Tsar Boris III Boulevard that was planned for re-construction in 2008 will be repaired in 2009 because the repair of the boulevard itself was also postponed to July or August 2009, Sofia deputy mayor in charge of transport Velizar Stoilov said.

238. Spanish developer to invest 500M euro in residential property near Sofia

Wise property: 2008-09-04

Residential property market in Bulgaria still has a potential to grow, Hercesa International saidThe Bulgarian residential property market still has a potential to grow, Nikolina Nikolova, CEO of the Bulgarian arm of Hercesa International, said during a news conference on September 1 2008 at the Hilton Hotel. Nikolovas statement contradicted the tone set at the general discussion with real estate agency executives, that the market is near saturation.

Nikolova announced plans of the Spanish developer to invest 500 million euro in the building of a gated residential property along the road between Sofia and Pernik. The land plot is within close proximity to the Sofia boroughs of Gorna Banya, Ovcha Koupel and Zapaden Park.

The company intends to build a railway station within the estate compound, which will allow residents to commute easily to either Sofia or Pernik. As of now, there is an existing station where a train passes every half an hour, but the company wishes to shorten the interval to 15 minutes, Nikolova said. She also said that municipality building permission had already been obtained.

Nikolova said that the company had 33 years of experience on the international property market, and what differentiated it from the rest was the quality of its product.

The most important feature for us is securing an adequate infrastructure, together with a sense of security for our clients, she said.

Asked about the recent media buzz regarding the property market crisis in Spain and how Hercesa International would gain the trust of its future clients, Nikolova answered that the company was not a typical Spanish investor and developer. She added that, on the board of directors, there were representatives of five major Spanish banks, which, according to Nikolova, meant financial stability.

The project features more than 2000 apartments with a total living area of 240 000 sq m. Prices will vary between 800 and 1100 euro a sq m, Nikolova said, and added that the first building phase should be completed by the end of 2010. Completion of the entire project is expected by 2016.

A full presentation of the project will be ready for the upcoming real estate exposition BalPEx, which will be held October 10 to 12 in Sofia.

Hercesa International has investments in Romania, Portugal and the Czech Republic, among others.

237. Balkan real estate expo in Sofia to feature 300 new projects

Sofia Echo: 2008-09-03

From October 10 to 12, the forth edition of the Balkan Real Estate Conference (BalREc) will take place at the Inter Expo and Congress Center in Sofia. The property expo gives opportunity to professionals not only to present their products and services, but to create a network of new business partners and friends, organisers said in a media statement.

Spread over 4000 sq m, the property exposition will feature 300 projects presenting different segments of the construction business. More than 150 exhibitors, among which leading Bulgarian and foreign developers and investors, real estate agencies, financial and credit organisations, will present their latest projects and services to existing and potential customers.

Traditionally, the residential property segment is best presented and most popular among visitors and clients, considering that it represents more than 50 per cent of the projects on offer. Organisers said that the number of large-scale business projects such as office buildings, commercial and logistics centres was rapidly increasing.

For a first time, visitors will see the concept of residential gated property Zelenika in Sofia, Residencia Botanica in Sofia borough of Boyana, and the Prestige complex, also in Boyana, among others.

Pravets Golf and Spa Club near the city of Pravets will also have its premiere at BalREc, featuring a golf course, hotel and other property.

Preceding the expo, a conference BALREC Bulgaria will be held on October 9 at Sheraton Hotel in Sofia. Invited are real estate professionals who will discuss the current state and the potential for development in the upcoming two years of the Bulgarian property market.

Some of the participants are Immo Industry Group, Bulgarian Properties, Alfa Development Management, RE/MAX Chance Group, and more.

236. Attraction in the middle of the road

Property Wise: 2008-09-02

Soon enough, a mock-up medieval castle, somewhat mimicking the style of Las Vegas, will meet and greet travellers in the Veliko Turnovo region. Spread over a land plot of 0.4 ha within the territory of the village of Arbanassi, this road-side attraction will feature a spacious restaurant and a lodging facility, Stroitelstvo Gradut reported.

The project has been designed by local architectural office Arhmaster Veliko Turnovo and main architect Plamen Ivanov; investor is Kaloyan VT Ltd.

In the spirit of an old castle, the buildings edges are flanked by turrets. The path leading to the main gate passes over a wooden draw bridge over a moat with running water, for decorative purposes.

The envisioned restaurant Attraction will feature a multi-functional hall with 384 main room and 60 additional seats. All seats are organised amphitheatrically, encircling a stage in the middle. Natural lighting will stream down from a large skylight in buildings roof.

In addition to the restaurant, there will be a hotel facility with a total of 28 beds. For the convenience of all customers, the building will have an adjoining parking lot with 36 stalls.

The Attraction will open doors in the fall.

235. First expat BBQ meetings - updated

Sofia Echo: 2008-09-01

On Saturday September 6, the first expat BBQ meeting will be held in Sofia. Expat BBQ meetings will be held several times a month, throughout Bulgaria. On September 12 an expat BBQ meeting will take place in Akroza bistro in Balchik, on September 13 in the Zuu bar in Varna and on September 14 at the lake in the village of Manastir near Provadiya, Varna district.

All meetings are co-organised by Expatinbulgaria.com -- the leading expatriate community portal -- and Andy's Foods, together with local hosts. Andys Foods is a British owned company striving to be the best professional distributor of foods across Bulgaria.

The BBQ meetings include a BBQ buffet, with beef burgers, hot dogs, bacon rolls and salads, supplied by Andy's Foods, and is set up to allow expats to network for business and pleasure over good food, a drink and good company.

Entrance fee to the events is 10 leva, part of which will go to local charity. The BBQ buffet is included in the entrance fee.

The first meeting will start at 4pm on September 6 at JJ Murphy's pub in Sofia.



234. Arco Invest secures loan refinancing

property wise: 2008-08-23

Arco Invest, the Bulgarian subsidiary of Estonian real estate company Arco Vara Group, secured a new 15.5 million euro loan to refinance existing debt contracted for the construction of its mixed-type Boulevard Residence project on Madrid Boulevard in central Sofia. The project is expected to be finished in the autumn of 2009 and would cost 20 million euro to build.

The new loan was contracted from Piraeus Bank Bulgaria, website investor.bg quoted unnamed sources from Arco Invest as saying.

Boulevard Residence will have a build area of 24 700 sq m, including 12 000 sq m of housing, 6100 sq m of commercial space and two underground levels.

It is Arco Invest's second project in the city, the first one being a gated compound in the Malinova Dolina borough in Sofia, which will cost 24 million euro. The compound will have a build area of 35 sq m, including 10 000 sq m of commercial space.



233. Wooden Sanctuary Discovered in Pliska

News BG: 2008-08-22

A team of archaeologists found an ancient wooden building serving for cult purposes from the 9th century during the exploration of military machinery on the grounds of the first Bulgarian capital Pliska.

The building served for sacrifices, connected to the earliest religious beliefs of Pliska inhabitants. It was built on the remains of the burnt-up wooden fortress wall of Pliska.

Its foundations were made of red bricks and the walls - of wood.

Two cameras, resembling funeral cameras, were discovered during the digging.

The archaeologists suppose that pagan ceremonies took place here, long after Christianity had become Bulgaria's main religion.



232. School closures a windfall for property developers

Sofia Echo: 2008-08-21

Bulgaria will close a record number of schools this year, allowing developers to remodel the buildings into hotels, retirement homes, spa centers or small factories, a Dnevnik investigation has found out.

Some 300 schools have been shuttered so far in 2008 at the request of town mayors more, than double the amount closed down in 2007.

The fate of the former school buildings, located mainly in rural areas, is decided by the respective municipal council.

Information posted on the websites of regional authorities indicate that the school buildings sell at prices ranging from 5000 to 90 000 leva, depending on their location and state of repair.

Town mayors and school principals said the main reason for the record number of closures is the new central budget funding scheme, adopted in early 2008, which ties the amount of government aid to the number of enrolled students. The new funding rule has led to the bankruptcy of the smallest schools in locations where the local government has no money to co-finance their operation.

231. Outlook for Sofia office space market good -CB Richard Ellis

Sofia Echo: 2008-08-18

Despite the effects of the credit crunch and forecasts for an overall slowdown in economic growth, Bulgarian gross domestic product defied the expectations of economists by recording seven per cent growth in the first quarter of 2008, real estate consultants CB Richard Ellis said in a Sofia office market overview for the first half of 2008.

Bulgaria remains attractive to international companies that outsource and offshore parts of their activities to the country, driven by the availability of well-educated and experienced specialists at lower salaries as compared to Central and Eastern Europe, Western Europe and the US, as well as the low corporate and personal income taxes (both 10 per cent), among others. Therefore, according to the report, Sofias office market will continue to develop actively at least in the next two to three years.

Office space completion in the first half of 2008 set a record, with completions coming in at levels of over 87 per cent of all completions in 2006 and 58 per cent of all completions in 2007, CB Richard Ellis said.

As a result of this large amount of completions, Sofia now has modern office stock of approximately 808 000 sq m, according to the company. This number will continue to increase, in view of more than 250 000 sq m scheduled for completion by the end of the year.

That said, the consultancy doubts that all announced office projects will actually enter the market by the end of the year. CB Richard Ellis expect that no more than 150 000 sq m will actually enter the market by the end of the year. Another 500 000 sq m are expected by the end of 2010, to make the total pipeline approximately 750 000 sq m.

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