Hero's Square: The last bit of sightseeing before bedtime
Yesterday we had a “free” morning when we had the chance to climb the citadel, take a wander along the banks of the Danube or simply catch up on the project work. I finally had chance to try the famous Gellert thermal spa. The building is incredibly impressive and beautifully tiled. Having collected my obligatory shower-cap [which must be worn at all times in the swimming pool] I attempted to negotiate the rather complicated changing rooms with their electronic wristbands to open and lock cubicle doors. It was all worth it though for a swim in the amongst the intricately tiled pillars and a relaxing ten minutes in the 38 degree thermal pools. Highly recommended!
Fully relaxed we spent the afternoon in groups visiting the offices of some property and construction companies in Budapest. This was a fantastic opportunity to see the kind of places we might end up working after graduation, find out about the projects that they’re involved with and, hopefully, get some advise from them for our project.
Real Estate-ers en route to King Sturge
My group of Real Estate students headed out to visit King Sturge in their offices on Roosevelt ter, directly at the end of one of Budapest’s famous bridges. Here we met James Kinnell again. As I mentioned in the last post, James graduated from NTU in 1993. After working in London for 9 months he was sent to Budapest in 1994. After just 9 months here in Hungary he decided to start-up his own property business which he developed across 6 countries in central/south-eastern Europe. In 2007 he sold his business to King Sturge where he is now an equity partner responsible for South East Europe. I think the whole group was impressed by the fact that James set up his own business on foreign soil when he was barely two years further into his career than a lot of the group are now. James was a massive help with the development site project, talking us through competitor projects in the area and financial models.
Reports back from the other groups suggest that they had equally worthwhile afternoons. One group of Quantity Surveyors visited Tamas Fonda (another contributor to Tuesday afternoon’s conference) at the offices of Tomlin Project Management. Tamas told the group more about his career, starting out as an architect with a keen interest in cost control. Having gained an insight into UK approaches during a period working for EC Harris he decided to start his own company and Tomlin was born. The group was particularly impressed by Tomlin’s office which Tamas led a tour of. Originally a winery and later residential flats the building was purchased from the government and is now provides a fantastic office environment which the whole group agreed would be a lovely place to work. They were particularly impressed with the sauna!
Not all groups spent the afternoon in the office though. One group of Building Surveyors visited Norbert Schomer at AIG Lincoln and had the opportunity to visit a 17 hectare mixed-use development near the airport. They were shown around the three-zone site which consists of an airport business park of industrial units, Market Central – a retail unit and The Quadrum which is currently still under construction to be completed in four phases. The group heard more about BREEAM, the most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings, and the importance of considering the environmental implications of their plans for the project development site.
Quantity Surveyors on the roof of the RC Harris development
Another group of Quantity Surveyors visited Tibor Stahl at EC Harris and also had the chance to see a major retail development first hand. They travelled to the centre of Budapest’s shopping district where a 101 year old bank building is being converted into an impressive shopping centre. A conversation with the client’s project manager highlighted that, although there were substantial extra costs involved with refurbishing and keeping the building’s historic facade, it was worthwhile considering the building’s prime location.
With all the groups having such different afternoon experiences there was plenty of work to do when everyone got back to the hotel, incorporating what had been learnt into the plans for Thursday’s presentations.
I thought it was about time to find out what some of the other groups though of the trip so far and Harvinder, Lisa, Ed, James, Sean, Chen, Matthew and Alex of project group two were kind enough to provide the following reflection:
“Budapest is a fantastic city and we are gaining invaluable experience and knowledge from being exposed to the property market dynamics of this region. The trip has been well structured, providing us with an opportunity to understand the property market first-hand, as well as being filled in with the expert knowledge of some of the city’s leading players to help shape our ideas. Overall, this trip is providing us with an excellent range of information and experiences regarding Budapest’s real estate markets that can be applied not just to our coursework, but also to our future careers within this sector.”
Thanks guys and good luck to everyone for the project presentations!