BBJ Top Real Estate Executives
Miklós Gyertyánfy is the Chief Operating Officer of Granit Polus since his appointment early this year.
He has been part of the group’s management over the past ten years and worked previously as Asset Management Director. He graduated at the Corvinus University of Budapest with a degree in Finance and studied in Canada and the Netherlands. He started his professional carrier at a US private equity fund in Budapest and Warsaw, after which he worked for 9 years in the telecom and internet industries. He obtained a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) title and is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (MRICS). He is married with two children. His hobbies include hiking, playing football and he is in training to become a plane pilot.
What is the real estate project you are most proud of, and why?
Westend clearly stands out from the group’s portfolio, and this is the project I am particularly proud of. By combining four different functions – a shopping centre, an office building, a hotel, and a parking unit – the building complex is unique in the domestic market. The shopping centre is the most significant element, which has been the market leader in the shopping centre sector in Hungary since its opening 22 years ago. After having survived the global economic crises over the past decades, it has again proven its crisis resilience during the pandemic.
The challenges of recent years have confirmed that we are a leader among our competitors in terms of both leasing strategy and tenant management, as well as unique operating solutions, thanks to which we have now reached the pre-pandemic levels in visitor number, and our tenants’ turnover has even exceeded the comparable 2019 level.
In addition to the shopping centre, I would also like to highlight the hotel in the Westend complex, which reopened in 2022 as Hungary’s first Crowne Plaza after a full refurbishment. Its interior design solutions were awarded a gold medal at the international MUSE Design Awards.
But I could mention the Palace of Arts or the Budapest Sportarena, where despite the vis maior situation we could manage to bring both of our projects back to the operation in relatively short period of time subsequent to the pandemic.
Is the war in Ukraine leading to the delay or cancelation of real estate projects and driving up costs? If not, do you fear it might?
I am proud that none of our projects have had to be stopped so far due to the pandemic or the crisis in Ukraine. At Westend, after the hotel’s 16 thousand square meters renovation, we will rebuild and renovate additional 20 thousand square meters of retail space this year. Thanks to our professional experience and efficient decision-making mechanism, we have always found the alternatives that made the ongoing works possible, and we were able to close our projects with minimal cost overruns and deadline extensions by applying value engineering techniques. However, the future remains questionable because construction cost changes and delivery deadlines are difficult to predict over the next 12-18 months. We may need to rethink some projects.
Do you view environmental regulation as a threat or an opportunity, and why?
We have always seen it as an opportunity. Although the name ESG has only recently become widespread, both our organization and operation have already been engaged with this approach for years. Environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and transparency are not just reflecting our corporate values but are also serious business factors: we are certain that the capital allocation of investors and financiers will focus on investments operating under the ESG framework. This is particularly important given our plans to a potential listing of Westend at the stock exchange.
What Budapest building project would you most like to see developed in the next few years, and why? It is clearly a state and city project – the renewal of the Nyugati Station and its surroundings, which affects the area around Westend. Rethinking the busiest traffic hub of the Budapest city centre, turning it into a multifunctional and liveable area would be a huge step in the development of the city. This, along with the planned railway developments, airport express, green areas and other public functions would also help positioning Budapest as one of the leading tourist and conference destinations in Europe.