Saturday, 9 July 2016

Getting out of Mordor

If you're going to work in Warsaw, a place best avoided is Służewiec Przemysłowy, known these days as Mordor. What's wrong with the place? Best expressed in numbers. 83,000 people work there. And because public transport links to this part of town are poor, a staggering 30,000 cars are driven in every day. What's worse, 87% of those cars convey no one but the driver.

While 36.1% of Mordor's office workers come to work by car, only 3.4% of workers in the City of London travel in by car.

The City of London - one square mile - is well-served by Underground and main line rail services and bus routes. Mordor isn't. This sad state of affairs came to pass because developers and the city authorities have failed to work together to sort this out.

Because it lies outside the paid parking zone, Służewiec is a messy free-for-all. Leave your car by the kerb, on the pavement, on the grass verge - anywhere you can. Anarchy. Below: looking west along ul. Konstruktorska.

And, as I wrote earlier, neither town planners nor architects nor developers took sufficient attention of the needs of those who don't wish to drive to work.

Mordor now has such a poor reputation as a place to work (and in a particular a place to get to work) that companies are beginning to relocate their businesses to more sought-after locations.

Below: a billboard at Metro Wilanowska station, announcing the imminent departure of UK insurance giant Aviva to new premises near Dworzec Gdański, three stops north of the city centre. JRR Tolkien would be amused at how his literary inventions have entered the vocabulary of Polish corporate employees.

Below: a billboard at Metro Wierzbno (the nearest Metro station to Mordor) announcing the imminent departure of Stanley Black & Decker to Rondo Daszyńskiego, three stops west of the city centre. Now, Metro Wierzbno is only four stops from Metro Centrum, but a further five tram stops from Domaniewska, Mordor's heartland.

The two Google Earth satellite maps below compare Mordor with the City of London (both set at 2.5km above ground level). The City of London is more concentrated, narrower roads, higher buildings with smaller footprints. But a dense network of public transport ensures that 400,000 people can get to their offices without the horrors that face those getting into Mordor. Incidentally, parking in the City of London (assuming you can find a meter) costs £1.20 per 15 minutes. And the Congestion Charge, which you need to pay to enter central London by car, is a further £11.50 a day. Tot the two up and you'll be paying around £50 a day or £1,000 (5,300 złotys) a month just to enter and park in the City of London. Just to be clear - four times as many people work in the area in the lower photo as do in the upper photo.

Last week, I was talking to a guy who works for a company fitting out office blocks for new tenants. He told me that these days, smart Polish investors are no longer buying and developing land in Służewiec - they're aware that employees don't fancy working there, and that the labour market in Warsaw today is being shaped by employees. Especially the younger ones - the Millennials. The smart money is on Wola - just west of the city centre, and connected by good Metro, tram, bus and rail routes. Meanwhile, the new office blocks going up in Mordor are being erected by foreign investors who doing a 'me too'; seeing the cranes all over the place, they assume that this is the place to be.

I've written about ul. Poleczki and the development around the extreme southern end of Mordor, some 3km south of Służewiec. Things here are really bad. Poleczki Business Park is about to open a further three new office buildings - meanwhile, outside of rush hours, there are only three buses an hour serving this part of town. No trams, no trains. And one of the car parks is about to become yet another office block.

What will happen to the buildings that Aviva and Stanley Black & Decker are leaving? They will no doubt find tenants - but at lower rents. Warsaw has high office vacancy rates, but the best office space in the best locations finds quality tenants quickly.

If I were a developer or a landlord or a property investment fund with a stake in Mordor, I'd be putting maximum pressure on Warsaw's authorities to dramatically improve public transport links to my real estate - more trams, more buses, better interconnection at PKP Służewiec with the tram terminus, a new PKP station south of Okęcie (PKP W-wa Wyczółki/ W-wa Poleczki), and bring in parking meters to discourage the short-distance one-per-car commuters.

More about civilising Mordor (in Polish) here and escaping from Mordor (in English) here.

This time two years ago:
Democratic budget decisions at the local level

This time last year:
Rustic retreat rained off

This time four years ago:
Thunderstorm over Jeziorki

This time five years ago:
Getting lost on top of Łopień

This five seven years ago:
Regulatory absurdities in Poland

This time eight years ago:
Czachówek and Alignment

This time nine years ago:
Joy, pain, sunshine, rain

1 comment:

dr Marcin said...


Do think that comparison between Mordor and the City of London is inappropriate. You should explain your readers, that situation an a Square Mile might be remarkably different if a financial heart might be located there nor at the Docklands, where was relocated in the 90.ties. How would it look like, if thousands of employees of the Barclays, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, KPMG and so on and so on headquarters being crowded nearby the Bank Station nor some of the 3 miles to the East? Even the Financial Conduct Authority is located on the Canary Wharf. Going further. You draw an picture of an excellent transportation system of London. OK. It really looks impressive with more than 700 bus lines, overgrounds, undergrounds, railways and so on. But again please explain your readers, why an average time for an approaching a ticket gate in a Tube at the peak afternoon hours on some of the downtown stations, ranges from 30 up to 45/60 minutes? And again please explain your readers, how and why is that, that it takes approx. 45 minutes (the fastest connection by Southwest Rails and Metro/City Line) during morning peak hours to get from the southern-west Putney Heath area up to the Threadneedle Street or 1,5 hrs by buses.

Furthermore, I cannot understand a purpose to place on the Polish underground station an announcement about a business office relocation of a foreign company in English. Imagine an announcement posted in Victoria Station, like that " Firma Szczeguliński i Wspólnicy. Dowidzenia Battersea. Od 1 września przenosimy się do Chiswick Business Park. " So, this might make a fury for the Brexiters and questions like that: "Why don't that *** Poles integrate with us?"

And finally, mine the best. "Just days after finding out London’s the world’s sixth most expensive city, turns out we’re also the most congested."
"London is Europe's worst city for traffic congestion"
I was always irritated by most of the traffic jams, while commuting in Warsaw, until I tried the same in London. Can you imagine passing an edge from Wandsworth Town up to the Battersea Station for approx. 40 minutes by bus, approx. 3 miles?