Archive for March, 2011

EUR 40 M Office Complex, Hilton Garden Inn to Be Built in Sofia

A new office complex with a Hilton Garden Inn hotel will be opened in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia in the third quarter of 2011, according to reports.

About EUR 40 M will be invested in the BLU Offices & Hilton Garden Inn complex, reported Bulgarian business news site citing IHM OOD, the investor in the new development.

The new office and hotel complex will be located on the Brussels Blvd very close to the Sofia International Airport. The first Hilton Garden Inn-branded hotel in Bulgaria will have 200 rooms.

The offices will be located in two 65-meter-high towers (16 storeys each), with a total of 20 000 square meters of office space; the entire complex will have a built-up area of 50 000 square meters.

The funding for the investment is provided by Erste Group Immorent (EGI). According to Yani Stoimenov cited as a consultant to the project, the funding is under favorable interest rates, and allows the investors to offer offices at very attractive prices, possibly with zero rent for the first one or two years. In his words, for the next 5-10 years, however, the offices in the complex will cost EUR 8 per square meter per month.

The Bulgarian capital Sofia already has a Hilton Hotel, the Hilton Sofia, in its downtown; a Doubletree by Hilton hotel was opened in the Golden Sands resorts in the summer of 2010 to be followed by the Hilton Varna in the summer of 2011.

If the new investment in Sofia is realized, the future Hilton Garden Inn will be the fourth Hilton-branded hotel in the country.

Number of housing property deals in Bulgaria’s capital doubled in January – Bulgarian Properties

The number of transactions on Sofia’s housing market in January 2011 was double that of January 2010, Sofia-based real estate agency Bulgarian Properties said.

According to Polina Stoykova, chief operating officer at the agency, this was the strongest January in terms of residential property deals in Sofia.

Usually, the number of sales at the start of the year is lower, but this is considered a good sign for the real estate market as a whole, because the trend is indicative of Sofia’s entire property market, Stoykova said.

One-bedroom flats at prices of up to 50 000 euro generated the strongest interest in January, followed by two-room apartments at between 75 000 euro and 80 000 euro, as well as luxury flats priced at 120 000 euro to 300 000 euro.

Bulgarian Government to allocate 2M leva for Bansko FIS World Cup

Bulgaria’s Government will allocate more than two million leva to finance the men’s alpine skiing World Cup event, which will be hosted by the country’s top mountain resort of Bansko, the country’s Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on February 1 2011.

As much as 1.95 million leva of the amount will be provided by the Sports Ministry, while the remaining 100 000 leva will be extended by the Ministry of Energy and Tourism, Borissov told Tseko Minev, head of the Bulgarian Ski Federation (BSF).

The sum will cover 40 per cent of the the total budget earmarked for the event’s organisation, which is estimated at five million leva by BSF.

Super Bansko

Skiing fans in Bulgaria were treated to an outstanding event of skiing on the last weekend of February, which only a fortnight ago was looking in danger of being ruined by the early arrival of spring and temperatures rising to double digits nationwide. But it all proved a false alarm and, as fortunes and the weather smiled seductively over Bansko, winter staged a comeback and the FIS World Cup leg proved a blast.

It was was the equivalent of a football super Sunday for Bulgaria, as while the international skiing elite congregated on the slopes of Bansko and thousands of fans made the pilgrimage to the winter resort, Sofia was bracing itself for the opening of the spring leg of the football season with a derby between arch rivals Levski Sofia and CSKA Sofia. The football match turned out to be a washout, as an otherwise unexpectedly decent football match, by Bulgarian standards, was overshadowed by violence on the terraces, which later spilled outside the ground and onto the streets.

But nevermind football. This was about Bansko’s magnificent white weekend and nothing would spoil it, not even initial concerns that the weather might interfere with proceedings as heavy clouds and thick fog enveloped the slopes on the day before the first race – it was just a teaser, with the sun emerging gloriously on February 26, bathing the mountain in its warm embrace.

Tourists flocked in their thousands as coaches ferried fans from Bansko town centre as early as 7am in the morning to Bunderishka Polyana, where the main stand was built. More than 7000 fans would make it up the mountain on both days, to give it the atmosphere of a real white carnival.

Bansko saw super combined on the first day, followed by slalom on February 27, and both had a fair share of drama.

Italy’s Christof Innerhofer – the reigning super-giant world champion, who finished second in the super combined race and third in downhill at the world championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen earlier in February – pulled off a win by the slimmest of margins, posting a combined time of 2:23.87.

What was particularly epic about his performance was that Innerhofer came in a lowly 11th place in the slalom leg, a full 1.2 seconds behind Germany’s Felix Neureuther, but Innerhofer regrouped to stage a brilliant super-giant run in the afternoon.

Neureuther, a slalom specialist, fell well behind in the super-giant, but still finished second overall, only 0.01 seconds behind Innerhofer. Frenchman Thomas Mermillod Blondin finished third, 0.33 seconds behind Innerhofer. Recently-minted slalom world champion, Jean-Baptiste Grange of France, who was expected to make a run at the podium, fell early into his slalom run and did not finish.

American Ted Ligety, the reigning giant slalom champion, finished fourth and World Cup leader Ivica Kostelic of Croatia, cheered on by his many fans present in Bansko, was fifth. Kostelic had secured the super combined lesser World Cup trophy well before the race in Bansko, the fourth and final in this discipline this season.

Mario Matt of Austria won the slalom on the second day, his first race win in nearly two years. The Austrian (31) was fastest in the morning’s first run and went on to be equally impressive in the second run to post a combined time of 1:50.35 and win his 13th World Cup race. His compatriot Reinfried Herbst clocked the second-best time, a mere 0.04 seconds behind.

Showing no ill after-effects from his mishap a day earlier, Jean-Baptiste Grange rounded out the podium, 0.48 seconds adrift, but he also managed to shorten the gap to Ivica Kostelic to 36 points in the slalom standings.

Kostelic tops the standings with 478 points, followed by Grange with 442, while Sweden’s Andre Myhrer is a distant 333 points with two races still to go.

In the overall standings following the Bansko races, Kostelic has a virtually-unassailable lead with 1294 points, while his closest pursuers, Didier Cuche of Switzerland and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, have 725 points and 713 points, respectively. Both skiers specialise in the longer disciplines and skipped the slalom-centred event in Bansko altogether.

Bulgaria was also featured in both days of the spectacle, even if none of the resident skiers put in a big title challenge, as the local fans would have liked. Nevertheless, Georgi Georgiev scored big by finishing 21st in the slalom race, which won him 10 World Cup points, while Nikola Chongarov barely missed out by finishing 33rd.

Top skiing weekend and smiles all around for Matt and Innerhofer, who, apart from leaving Bulgaria with good memories, will have to get used to the idea of being neighbours after being given keys to brand-new flats in the Pirin Golf Complex near Razlog. Hopefully, that should mean we would be seeing more of them on the slopes of Bansko.

Launch of Sofia’s most expensive apartment rentals project

Cleves, the luxury apartment rentals company, today opens Sofia’s most expensive rentals project: a sumptuous 34-apartment building in Iztok which cost over €10m, of which €2m has been spent on the fit-out, furnishing and equipment.

 Prior to launch five of the most costly apartments had already been rented – for as much as €3000 + VAT per month.  Said Vesey Crichton, partner at Cleves: “There is a shortage of high-quality rentals in Sofia. Despite the economy, underlying demand from international clients in this niche is strong.”  Monthly rentals are from €760 to €3400 + VAT.

 Cleves Este is in a very smart secure compound close to the Joliot Curie Metro, with shops and restaurants on site, underground parking, landscaped gardens and children’s playgrounds.  A swimming pool and health club will open soon with massage, steam rooms, fitness and beauty facilities.

 The building itself has eight floors, with a ground-floor suite of offices, 34 apartments and 49 parking spaces.  The design of each of Cleves Este’s apartments is different and distinctive.  Influences range from Japanese poetry and square-rigged sailing ships to the romance of Tuscany and Provence. 

 At every stage of the project’s design close attention has been given to style and comfort.  All apartments are light and airy, with spacious rooms and big windows.  Each has at least one balcony – most have several.  Some apartments have walk-in wardrobes. All have modern handcrafted kitchens, Wi-fi pre-installed, and flat-screen TV with cable access.  Every apartment has a full security system, with burglar alarm motion detection, and the front doors have triple bolts. A concierge is on duty 24 hours a day.

 Cleves Este has some special features: A single remote control device gives access to everything – underground parking, the main entrance, the lift, and the gardens.  Each apartment’s video entry system gives a view of both the front entrance, and the area immediately outside the apartment. The air-conditioning is computer controlled, with chiller units on the roof – ‘greener’ and more efficient than conventional systems. The underground car park is lavish: wide painted concrete floors, lighting activated by motion sensing devices, and (for winter conditions) under-floor heating on the entry and exit ramps.

 This is the company’s fifth rental property, bringing the number of apartments it operates in Sofia to 91.  Already Cleves has rental projects in Boyana, Oborishte, Izgrev and Manastirski Livadi.

 Cleves EOOD ( is in the process of acquiring a €40m portfolio of up-market, residential property in Sofia.  The company focuses on the top-end of the rentals market.  Its clients are senior international business people and diplomats. The company owns and operates all the apartments in its portfolio.

Welcome to RilaDev’s Blog!

In 2006, RilaDev a English Bulgarian homebuilder embarked on one of the most ambitious hotel and residential project in Bansko, Bulgaria, Pirinea Hotel Spa and Residence.

This blog offers current news and information on the Bulgarian real estate market and economy, local and touristic events and tracks the exciting progress of this emerging market.

This blog will also offer subscribers periodical updates on the Pirinea project, its construction progress and other related information.

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Russell Collins

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Author: Russell Collins - RilaDev

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