”I†did not understand many things but I†tried to listen to clever people“, these are the words said by RNDr. Daniel Dobrota (*1956), President of CREDO Group, when discussing the success of one of the youngest Slovak developer groups. Although he dedicated the major part of his life to IT, he left the position of a general director in a leading software company at the age of 46†and started to orient his activities to business with real estates.
How did you get to the idea to dedicate yourself do development?
I†was definitely not the only one who came from IT to development. I†love mountains where I†spend all my leisure time and there, in the nature, I†get different ideas, solutions, models, the thinking gets crystallised. In 2002†there was a new situation in the company SOFTIP, and the competencies and powers within the company were newly distributed and I†made my decisions in the mountains again, visiting often my friend in ZŠzrivŠ, where he had a beautiful wooden cottage with an excellent view. Then I†wished to have my own wooden cottage and I†thought maybe also other people could like it. I†admit that I†did not understand many things at the beginning but I†tried to listen to clever people. And I†understood that flats, apartments but a logistic centre as well or a shopping mall, each has got strict and proved rules, and economic parameters in particular, and if a project does not fit to them, there is no sense to launch it. After you understand it, then it is in principle a simple model one can learn, it is only necessary to manage it well, to have the right marketing feeling and the personnel, too. I†used my experiences gained in SOFTIP and so till now it runs†well.
How do you evaluate your first projects now?
We started to prepare our very first project in 2003†in Liptovskż MikulŠĻ and in two years there was the final building approval. Many people considered me to be a fool, but I†told myself: if such a project is successful in a district town having 35,000†inhabitants, then I†can manage also other projects in bigger towns. It was a multifunctional apartment house with 80†flats and 9†non-residential premises with the very first underground parking in the town. The project ended up very well and by the end of 2006†everything was sold. Last 22†flats were bought by the English. Due to the exchange rate of the pound in those days and the real estates price increase, their profit was 80% in two†years.
And this was the impulse for you to work fully in this branch…
This was a project prototype to me in the region and I†learned a lot working on it. These were the days of a building boom, so we took the coming chances. I†become a partner in BD Terasa project in KoĻice, a project I†think was super temporal from the point of view of architecture, construction system or used materials. Then, the recreation houses at LiptovskŠ Mara lakeside, and the projects of flats in ģilina and BanskŠ Bytrica followed. All the projects finished till now were successful, they are fully paid and the clients have been using them. We were lucky to co-operate also with architects from Poland who gave us advices on disposition, share of respective flats sizes and so on. An optimal disposition of a flat should possibly be the same everywhere in the world†– all this have already been worked out and proved, but here we often see solutions that are not†good.
In comparison to others you remained away from Bratislava that offered the highest profit…
I†missed the time when one could buy plots of land in Bratislava for a favourable price working on other projects, and after that the prices for land were monstrous there. The prices of many residential projects may be so high today not because the developers would like to earn that much, but because they have to pay back their own investment in overpriced land. I†know a project in Liptov region the owner of which has changed for three times and each of them paid twice so much as his foregoer. Maybe it is good that the crises occurred and brought disillusionment and clearing the market, not only what the owners of land is concerned but also the developers, architects and also prices of construction works and materials. The excessive increase of prices adumbrated such a development.
What is your opinion about the architecture of current projects?
I†did not study architecture; I†perceive it as a user. But I†agree with a statement made by certain architect saying that our generation had been used for the ‘boxes’ of concrete panel flats for decades and when the change came we longed after something more romantic and it could be seen in the efforts of architects and investors to differ in details as inclined bevels, dormers, small towers and so on. I†also went through this development and today I†unambiguously plead for simple forms and lines, and first of all for materials of excellent quality. Not too many decorated things but things done so that people would feel well there. This is decisive. There are three factors affecting the success of a project: the first one is the locality. A†good locality means half of the success. The second factor is that it is has to be a nice project that call the attention with its design but first of all with good structure, disposition and for example the size of flats. The third important parameter is the ability to sell†it.
What are your ambitions in the near future?
To finish the running projects and I†suppose that in spite of the overall situation on the market, we shall be able to launch one, maybe two next projects this year. What the crises is concerned, I†personally think that the actual situation differs from the behaviour of the market. The market has got a shock, the media helped and also many experts who even increased that hysteria by their often contradictive information, so at the moment there is a huge mistrust and uncertainty. I†will be pleased if we are able to build something that could be appreciated for its architecture, or if we would be able to hire a world known architect for one of our projects. We were also able to sign a partnership agreement with a French company last year. We plan number of residential projects in towns and in the nature as well. Apartments in the mountains are very popular now, but we want to focus on extraordinary localities only and not to construct any megalomaniac projects, but middle-size project interesting from the point of view of architecture understood by the client as an interesting investment. This was also the reason why we decided for a foreign partner having longstanding experiences also in the area of an extent of utilization and marketing of apartments. I†am looking forward to this co-operation very†much.
JV / PHOTO: CREDO GROUP