Interview with Jacopo Mingazzini, CEO of ACCENTRO Real Estate AG
Mr Mingazzini, you developed the “360°” project on Lange Strasse / Koppenstrasse in Berlin-Friedrichshain. It is a fascinating name. What would you say is special about this residential scheme?
The building, which was originally raised in the 1950s, was thoroughly refurbished during the 1990s. We are now renovating the vacant units, and in spring of 2017 will start adding another two floors for attic apartments, which will add a very special flair to the whole thing. More than two thirds of the new attic apartments will be split-level. The façade and the hallways will be repainted. Free-standing balconies that will be added to the house will upgrade both the building's visual appeal and its quality of living. As a result, the houses will blend seamlessly into the streetscape while retaining their very own character. Inside, the emphasis will definitely be on home amenities. Wide windows, smart room layouts, glazed lifts serving all levels – the outcome once the building works are completed will be brightly day-lit homes with plenty of amenities and convenient access. Each flat will have a balcony, loggia or a roof terrace. From the attic apartments, you will moreover have a fantastic view.
What kind of residents are the flats intended for?
We have made it our business to ensure that all age groups will feel at home in our houses. The lifts will make all flats handicap-accessible, and this will come in handy for families using push chairs, too. The landscaped courtyard will be perfect for taking small breaks, and there will also be a playground with benches. The flats will have plenty of home amenities. There will be just the right flat for any type of buyer, from two-bedroom flats starting as small as 50 square metres, to high-end attic flats. There is also the option to merge two of the existing flats to create a larger unit and have more space. The idea is to make singles, couples and families of any age feel at home. It is also a good way to ensure that buy-to-let investors will quickly find tenants..
What was it about the location that made you decide to invest here on Lange Strasse / Koppenstrasse?
The location is very attractive and has a high degree of livability. The two streets are located in the heart of the borough of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, quite close to the Ostbahnhof railway station. So you have great access to public transportation, which puts all the other fascinating places in Berlin within easy reach. At the same time, you
have all sorts of attractions in the immediately surrounding area, and the name “360°” suggests as much. Above all, the area has a rich cultural scene. Cultural centres like “Radialsystem V” and “Alter Postbahnhof” are right around the corner, as is Mercedes-Benz Arena, a venue for major concerts and sporting events. There is a lot going on here, and new projects all around the arena are already in planning. Also, you have famous clubs like the Berghain in the vicinity. The restaurants, cafés and bars in Friedrichshain are as diverse as the entire quarter. Then there is Berlin's oldest municipal park, Volkspark Friedrichshain, which is perfect for taking walks, having picknicks and exercising – and it's a particularly beautiful place to be in the summertime. There is an indoor swimming pool nearby that is open year round. In fact, the leisure options are practically unlimited. You will find everything here that urbanites love about city life – and at the same time, you can have all the peace and quiet you want, because the area around the multi-family dwellings of “360°” is clearly a residential neighbourhood. The inner courtyard is certainly screened from the city's hustle and bustle. It is this combination that makes it a sought location. Buy-to-let investors will never have trouble finding tenants who would like to live here. Given the increasing demand for housing in Berlin, especially in this terrific area, it is safe to expect the property to gain steadily in value.
That sounds rather intriguing. But when investing in a condominium, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on the macro-environment – what is your view of Berlin's property market as a whole?
The market for residential real estate in Germany's capital has tremendous potential. Berlin is growing, after all, with the latest forecast predicting a demographic growth of nearly 5 percent by 2030. Unfortunately, housing construction in the city continues to lag behind, which means that we may and must expect to see further price hikes in the coming years. Accordingly, investing in residential real estate in Berlin is a safe bet, promising high returns. This is all the more true in trendy boroughs like Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. Berlin's property market is rather healthy, and if you compare it to other European metropolises you will see that it is still more or less undervalued. Considering that this is the capital of an economically strong country, it is quite affordable. At the same time, Berlin's performance keeps improving. Unemployment is going down, the economy is expanding, and the number of newly formed companies, especially start-ups, is rising steadily. Berlin is attractive, with both its population and the purchasing power of its residents growing. The demand for homeownership is growing in sync, and as long as it outpaces supply, prices will keep climbing.