New thinking rewarded at 2009 CIJ Awards Romania

The past year may have seen Romania’s real estate market decline drastically, but the industry still managed to produce a large number of intelligent, high-quality projects across all sector classes.

The purpose of the 2009 CIJ Awards Romania was to determine which of these projects were the best of the best, and a high-powered jury was assembled to make these decisions. The winners this year tended to be projects or companies relatively new to the market, or those that demonstrated innovative solutions to longstanding problems.

It was in this spirit that the first award of the evening, for Best Residential Development, went to NewTown, by developer Mivan. Jury member Tom Gibney (Epstein Architecture & Engineering) said the project had achieved a leap forward in creating a sustainable urban development, along with shaping a new way of living for its inhabitants.

It would be an understatement to say that the award for Best Office Development was vigorously debated by the jury, with digressions into topics of sustainability, investment quality, physical size and the creation of a new standard. With Victoria Center by Bluehouse eventually getting the nod, Paul Philips (Quintet Asset Management) spoke for the jury when he said that the building could easily sit in Paris or Berlin with its international level of design. The selection of PZP, the young, talented Romanian architecture practice, helped give the building a contemporary and fresh design solution and created the value that the jury felt will be sustained over the coming years.

If this decision was the focus of some debate over the course of the evening, there was less dissent over the decision to award AFI Palace Cotroceni the Best Shopping Center prize. The jury was so impressed with the developer’s achievement that it also awarded the Best Overall Development honors to the project. The jury’s feeling was that the project best captured the extra innovation, discipline and professionalism required to conceive and achieve a new standard of excellence. In addition, they found that it redefined “best in class,” as well as elevating the expectations for future projects.

The Best Warehouse/Industrial project for 2009, in the eyes of the jury, turned out to be the A1 Business Park by Cefin and Valad. In presenting the award, jury member Edwin Warmerdam (Avrig 35) said the park provided a critical combination of excellent motorway access and visibility, along with a sophisticated industrial park design. The jury said that combined with the project’s great success, it was a worthy winner in its category.

The final prizes for the evening went to people and companies, rather than to projects. Developer of the Year went to GTC, a company with a rich history of development in Romania and which managed to have four of its projects nominated in this year’s CIJ Awards. Horatiu Florescu (The Advisers/Knight Frank) said that for its ability to handle such complex schemes at the same time, under such trying circumstances, the company was a deserving winner of the accolade.

Florescu was soon called back to the stage to accept the prize for Real Estate Agency of the Year for The Advisers/Knight Frank, a remarkable result considering the company was established only this spring. Still, according to Gijs Klomp (ING Real Estate), the jury decided to recognize the agency which managed to stand out and surprise the market in a positive manner by beating the odds.

“Their success can be attributed to the courage of its founder father, their impressive portfolio of exclusive representations in one of the most important property sectors in this country and the fact that they managed to bring to Romania a new, respected international name,” he said.

This year saw the introduction of two new prizes, the first of which was Best Legal Firm of the Year. In announcing the decision, Mihaela Allardin (AEW Europe) said the jury considered experience, achievements over the past 12 months, and services provided along with creativity in dealing with the challenges of the economic crisis. PeliFilip, she said, was young but had excelled in these regards.

The second new prize was the Architectural Firm Award, for which jury member Victor Constantinescu (Biris Goran) said the jury considered originality, quality and functionality of design, number of transactions, reliability and a more difficult to define “wow factor.” Finally, when considering which studio’s work would still look modern in 10 years, he said the group eventually agreed upon Westfourth.

The Personality of the Year award went to Troy Javaher (Jones Lang LaSalle) as a tribute to his commitment to the Romanian market and to bringing transactions to Bucharest and Romania’s other cities and for the high degree of integrity and professionalism he brings to his work. The award was presented by Robert Neale (Portland Trust), who won the award last year.

Full list of 2009 winners
Best Residential Development: NewTown Residence (Mivan)
Best Office Development: Victoria Center (BlueHouse Capital)
Best Shopping Center: AFI Palace Cotroceni (AFI Europe)
Best Industrial/Warehouse: A1 Business Park (Cefin & Valad)
Best Overall Development: AFI Palace Cotroceni (AFI Europe)
Developer of the Year: GTC
Architecture Firm of the Year: Westfourth
Best Law Firm: PeliFilip
Personality of the Year: Troy Javaher (JLL)
Real Estate Agency of the Year: The Advisers/Knight Frank
Property Management Team: Coral Construct

Jury members of the 2009 CIJ Awards RomaniaHoratiu Florescu – President & CEO – The Advisers/Knight Frank
Victor Constantinescu – Partner – Biris Goran
Geo Margescu – Managing Director – Cefin Real Estate
Tom Gibney – Managing Director – Epstein Architecture & Engineering
Mihaela Allardin – Managing Director – AEW Europe RO
Troy Javaher – Head of Capital Markets – Jones Lang LaSalle
Gijs Klomp – Managing Director – ING Real Estate
Edwin Warmerdam – Chief Financial Officer – Avrig 35 Group
Leslie Warren – Leasing Director – Helios Phoenix
Paul Phillips – Chief Development Officer – Quintet Asset Management

For purposes of transparency and authenticity, the jury’s meetings and all voting were supervised by Francesca Postolache of PricewaterhouseCoopers. The monitoring was another innovation launched this year, intended to increase the value and prestige of the CIJ Awards. Jury members involved in any of the categories were not present for the discussion of voting for those awards.

GTC Romania was a partner of the 2009 CIJ Awards Romania.

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