Real estate’s worthy cause

Vacant hotels, disused offices, former prisons and army barracks – all are being dusted off as temporary accommodation for refugees from Ukraine.

Just a short walk from PropertyEU’s office in Utrecht stands a huge building housing multiple exhibition and conference facilities, as well as a theatre.

Since 9 March, one of its halls functions as an emergency reception centre for refugees from Ukraine, a first port of call for those arriving in the Netherlands with close to 400 camp beds and access to medical care and other services.

Such facilities are of course springing up all over Europe as those fleeing Ukraine continue to arrive in large numbers. From large-scale public initiatives to smaller private enterprises, the offers of shelter keep coming. Hotels, disused offices – even former prisons and army barracks – are all being dusted off as temporary accommodation.

Rarely has real estate had such a worthy cause. Many of the logistics developers in our annual ranking are doing their bit, providing vacant warehouse space for emergency supplies – and nearly all have made financial donations. Not surprisingly, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and its impact on supply chains, inflation and construction costs is also affecting their business, as they explain in the feature running alongside the ranking.

The Ukraine crisis and its many ramifications dominate the narrative throughout this issue. It was one of the main talking points at Mipim, where our reporters Jane Roberts and Lucas Ligtenberg sensed a strong feeling of trepidation among delegates about the future course of the conflict and what it will mean for their business.

In our Big Interview with Michael Bütter at Union Investment Real Estate, the CEO says the German fund giant may have to slow down its project developments – an area it is keen to expand in to gain access to ESG-compliant assets – if construction costs rise too much. Prices of building materials are likely to double or even triple, he predicts.

Meanwhile, in our Capital Watch section, Robin Marriott investigates a more esoteric effect of the war – how fund managers are screening their investments for exposure to sanctioned Russian counterparties.

The war has dealt an enormous blow to sentiment, damaging consumer confidence in many countries, and continues to reverberate across capital and business markets.

How long it will last is anybody’s guess. Christian Jamison of logistics specialist Valor Real Estate Partners, interviewed in this issue, probably sums up the industry mood best when he says: ‘A speedy resolution to the conflict is to be hoped for; the longer it goes on, the more of an impact it will have for everyone.’


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