Aqui una noticia publicada en el Saint Petersburg Times:
Business Centers Expand To Fulfill Growing Needs
Special to St. Petersburg Times
Business centers have become one of the fastest growing sectors of the local real estate market. More than 200 complexes are functioning in the city with around 100,000 square meters of office space added in 2004.
Experts predict that demand will gradually level off this year. The quality of services and property location will shape the market dynamics in 2005.
The growth of rental rates has slackened, but companies now tend to lease larger areas of office space.
"Businesses are expanding and growing and thus are not likely to reduce the rented area," said Igor Gorsky, the director of Becar agency group.
Dmitry Zolin, a St. Petersburg-based development director of London Consulting & Management Co. (LCMC), said that 95 percent of available office space has consistently been rented out between 2001 and 2005.
"The market demand is absorbing the newly available areas," he said. "However, supply should approach demand in 2005, since the tempo of the economy cannot keep up with the creation of new office space."
Business centers tend to differ in size, from about 2,000 to more than 30,000 square meters of rentable office space. According to data compiled by Becar Consulting at the start of 2005, the total volume of office space in the city just exceeds 800,000 square meters. Class C areas comprise 67.2 percent, while Class A and Class B respectively make up 4.8 percent and 28 percent.
Toward the end of 2004, rental rates for Class A business centers were between $450 and $700 per square meter while Class B was in the range of $310 to $500. The rates for Class C office space varied between $110 and $310.
The analysts surveyed for this article predicted steady but weakening growth of rental rates, as the market assumes a more stable configuration of supply and demand.
Office costs in St. Petersburg lag behind those in Moscow, where prime rates already far exceeded $700 per square meter last year, according to Colliers International's office market report.
The supply structure also differs in the capital. According to Moscow-based Stiles & Riabokobylko real estate company, more than 35 percent of office space in Moscow is categorized as Class A, a much larger proportion than in St. Petersburg.
Yet for the first time in three years, the city witnessed the completion of several new class A business centers in 2004. Among the newcomers are Genium and Nevsky 38.
A further 17,000 square meters will be added this year, said Viktoria Kulibanova, development manager at Astera estate agency.
"Highest-quality centers will command even more interest if major state companies relocate their headquarters to St Petersburg," Kulibanova noted. "Vneshtorgbank has already confronted the problem of being unable to find appropriate office space to rent. For that reason, large companies will build their own office buildings for their branches in the city.
"Several new class A business centers will be launched this year, including Veda-Haus on Petrogradskaya Naberezhnaya and an additional section of Severnaya Stolitsa on Volynsky Pereulok.
Class A property continued to account for the majority of investments. According to LCMC, the total share of new office space of that type in 2004 amounted to 103,000 square meters with 70,000 more forecast for this year alone.
"Today class B office space yields a 15-percent annual profit, which is only slightly less than the earnings in retail and higher than the interest on bank deposits," said Igor Gorsky, the director of Becar commercial real estate company.
The returns on investments in class B business centers remained substantial although market analysts note a downward trend.
LCMC's Zolin said the annual yield has fallen 5 to 7 percentage points from a previous 20 percent. Nonetheless, these yields still exceed those of class A and C properties.
Class B business centers tend to occupy buildings left unfinished from the Soviet period or expand into converted industrial structures.
Astera's Kulibanova noted that facilities of those types constituted more than three-quarters of the aggregate office space made available in 2004 or about 76 percent of the total.
"They account for a shift in the supply structure," Kulibanova said. "Their total share has grown by 6 percent to 7 percent in comparison to 2003."
New office complexes in that market segment continued to affect the conventional system of classification. More business centers are now graded as B+.
The nearly completed Feniks on Sverdlovskaya Naberezhnaya is an example of that trend. Located in the former Sverdlov Factory, the wholesale renovation cost $6 million. The building will now feature high-speed elevators and soundproof interiors, with the addition of a mansard roof planned for later this year.
Class B complexes not only overlap with higher-quality centers, but also appeal to occupants of class C office space.
The architectural typology of business centers is evolving. Most new complexes tend to reproduce the historicist approach that is common in St. Petersburg.
Becar's Gorsky said there are instances of successful use of contemporary architecture and high-tech solutions.
LCMC's Zolin said a contextual approach is optimal in the historical center while the city periphery could use more daring designs that anchor the surrounding environment.
Restrictions on building in the center are likely to make the outlying areas more appealing even for class A projects. Veda-Haus on Petrogradskaya Naberezhnaya is an instance of this emergent trend.