Damian Grzywacz, Managing Director of Lincoln Property Company in Poland, talks about the company's re-entry into the Polish market, plans for the future and passion for sport.
MW: Lincoln Property Company International is a new player on the Polish real estate market. Tell us a bit about Lincoln's story. When and how did it start?
DG: Lincoln Property Company was founded in the United States in Dallas in 1965 and is one of the largest private development companies in the US. Our company has specialized in development from the very beginning, however, for the past several years we have also been conducting large-scale investments. Since the beginning of its operation, Lincoln completed commercial projects with a total area of over 14 million sqm and 220,000 apartments in multi-family housing. As an investor, our company acquired over USD 22 billion in assets over the past 15 years and currently manages an asset portfolio of over USD 94 billion. In Europe, Lincoln began operations in the early 1990s, carrying out development projects in the office, logistics and warehouse sectors with a total area of over 2.5 million sq m in nine European markets, including Poland. This is what shows Lincoln's competitive advantage - openness to investment in various types of assets, and at the same time an attractive, diversified portfolio. Currently, Lincoln's European platform focuses on both development and investment opportunities, with a current portfolio of projects worth over EUR 1.6 billion in various sectors of the commercial real estate market in the UK, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.
MW: After London and Prague, Warsaw is your third office location in Europe. Where did the idea to start a business here come from?
DG: First of all, Poland has very solid macroeconomic foundations, which makes it a very attractive place in Europe when it comes to investments. At the same time, it is a mature and safe market in terms of capital investment. All these aspects make the Polish market extremely desirable among investors, developers and companies looking for space to rent here. The second reason for choosing Poland and specifically Warsaw is the history of Lincoln's operations in Poland to date. We had very good experiences in the Polish market and this makes the reopening of the office in Warsaw a natural step in the company's development.
MW: What are your business goals?
DG: First and foremost we are focused on development, which is the DNA of our company. Our first project will be The Form - an office building located in a desirable business area next to Rondo Daszyńskiego in Warsaw. We are already planning further projects - not only in the office sector, but are simultaneously working intensively on starting our warehouse projects. In the early 2000s, Lincoln successfully delivered its first warehouse projects – five facilities with a total area of 280,000 sqm - and at that time they were some of the most prestigious projects of this type. Currently, Lincoln has many warehouse investments in the USA so we also want to develop this sector in Poland. We are also interested in large mixed-use projects, offering not only office space, but also apartments for sale and rent (as part of an institutional lease).
MW: Since you already have offices in two other European countries, you can probably tell us how the Polish real estate market differs from other European markets? Is it easier or more difficult to run a business here?
DG: There is no simple answer to this question. When comparing notes with our colleagues from other European locations, we can say that obtaining a building permit in Poland is easier, for example. Poland also has another advantage that makes it more attractive than other European countries – that is the large scale of the Polish market. This makes our country a very attractive market in terms of investments and business activities.
MW: Referring to the scale of the market you mentioned - are you planning to be present in other Polish cities outside Warsaw?
DG: Currently, as far as the office market is concerned, we are focusing on Warsaw, which does not mean that we underestimate the potential of regional cities. We believe Warsaw is the best city to restart Lincoln's development activity in Poland. At the same time, in terms of development on the warehouse market, we do not limit ourselves to the vicinity of Warsaw, but are analyzing investment opportunities throughout Poland, in major logistics hubs.
MW: In your opinion, what is most important these days when it comes to work office spaces? How do we get people back into offices?
DG: Recently, the main focus has been on identifying and analyzing the individual needs and expectations of employees regarding working in the office. What emerges from this analysis is the fact that many people miss the atmosphere of meetings in the office, "live" conversations or simply the presence of colleagues or teamwork. A space with more than just a chair and a desk for work, that is conducive to group meetings, sharing thoughts and opinions, regenerating and relaxing - is a direction that will be further explored. Productivity is also an important factor. The old model in which everyone only worked on their own tasks is no longer standard. Currently, our work is more collaborative teamwork. Thus, the office space is gradually becoming better adapted to working in larger groups.
MW: Currently, many companies attach great importance to ecology and caring for the natural environment. How does your business fit in with these trends?
DG: The pro-ecological approach is already a global trend, visible in many sectors of the economy, including the real estate sector. Protection of the environment in the strict sense, using energy-saving and pro-ecological solutions leading to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, is now one of the most important determinants for both investors and tenants. In our projects, both in the United States and in Europe, we are not only maintaining the highest standards in terms of care for the natural environment, but we are also setting trends in the use of ESG solutions.
MW: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What are you passionate about and what do you like to do in your spare time?
DW: I am lucky that my work is my great passion which gives me great satisfaction. Privately, I am passionate about football. My favorite football team is Bayern Munich - not just because Robert Lewandowski plays there, but mainly because I see this team as an example of great organization and strategy implementation. This is something I very much appreciate both in my professional life and in sports. I also enjoy jogging (my favorite running spot is the Kampinos Forest) – it is a great reset for me, and at the same time gives me energy to keep going.