State-owned Polish State Railways, or PKP, wants to renovate the central station in Katowice, the Silesian capital 80 kilometers from Krakow, with the help of outside investors. It will choose the prime contractor for the 300-mln-euro project in January of 2008, according to the Katowice edition of the daily Gazeta Wyborcza.Which company is going to do that, will be announced in January 2008, informed Katowice’s regional supplement of Gazeta Wyborcza, as the bidding process for investors has been approved by the Executive Board of PKP earlier. The most important railway investment in Silesia in the next several years will help Katowice develop a transportation hub that integrates a modern railway center, bus station and auto parking area.Because the station is a public project, Minister of Transportation Jerzy Polaczek is overseeing it. The schedule for the work was set May 18 at a meeting of Polaczek, Silesian Governor Tomasz Pietrzykowski and Andrzej Wach, president of PKP Group, the parent of the railway company.One of the top contenders to build the project is expected to be Hungarian TriGranit Development Corporation, the leading real estate development corporation in Central and Eastern Europe. It built the Silesia City Center, one of the three biggest shopping malls in Poland.TriGranit’s decided to make its first Polish investment in Silesia because the region is one of the country’s most densely populated and plays an important role in the Polish economy. About 2.9 mln people live within 45 minutes’ driving distance from the mall. TriGranit has been involved in real estate development since 1997. It specializes in building multi-functional urban complexes. It also has extensive experience in revitalization projects and public-private partnership projects.TriGranit has completed major development projects in Budapest, Bratislava and Prague. The total value of its projects exceeds 1 bln euro.At present, the company is working on or preparing investment projects in 10 European countries, including several cities in Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia. TriGranit has declined comment on the Katowice railway project, as has another company that is considered a leading contender, the Irish development group Keyinvest. Keyinvest has put nearly 500 mln euro into Polish real estate development since 2001. It has built office buildings, retail centers and residential complexes.One its best-known projects is Warsaw’s Grzybowska, a ritzy apartment tower that it is building with the help of the internationally renowned designers Epstain Poland and SOM of London. The project will offer 27 floors of apartments, five levels of underground parking, a fitness center, restaurant and offices. The Ministry of Transportation said bids for the Katowice station will be taken until the middle of September. The winner will be chosen by the end of the year and announced in January. The Katowice station was built over 13 years ? from 1959 to 1972. It is the biggest and most important railway station in the Gornoslaski Okreg Przemyslowy region, the metropolitan area that takes in Katowice and surrounding cities in Silesian Province. Domestic and international rail connections run from there to almost every big city in the country and Europe.The station is a sparkling example of modern architecture. Some of the top architects of the period ? Waclaw Klyszewski, Jerzy Mokrzynski and Eugeniusz Wierzbicki ? designed the beautiful main hall. Another top architect, Waclaw Zalewski, oversaw the design. At one time PKP considered demolishing the station and replacing it with an entirely new one. Protests from the public and architects groups in Poland and abroad prompted the company to change its mind.
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