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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Warsaw. Empik at Nowy Świat. Why did they close? What will be in the tenement house?

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It’s been a year since Empik moved out of the tenement house at Nowy Świat. The salon operated in this place for seven decades. He transferred almost one and a half million zlotys a year to the state and city budgets. He refused to double the rent. Today, the building is empty, does not bring a penny, and the governor wants to convert it into an office.

He was in the rebuilt tenement house on the corner of Nowy Świat and Aleje Jerozolimskie from the beginning, i.e. from 1951. It was opened, according to the secular tradition of the communist state, on July 22. On the façade there is an inscription “THE WHOLE NATION IS BUILDING ITS CAPITAL”, on the roof a neon sign of the International Press and Book Club (because that was the name of Empik’s progenitor). The global dimension of the place was also emphasized by a neon globe in the corner of the tenement house. Decades passed and in the socialist realist building, newspapers, books and music were continuously sold and meetings with people of culture were organized.

In the 1990s, which were golden for phonography, the queue for the autograph of Kazik Staszewski or Kasia Nosowska stretched through two floors of the building and a piece of Nowy Świat Street. Empik “by the palm” even survived the difficult digital revolution: the expansion of e-books and streaming platforms, as well as riots with the participation of nationalists (in the history of Polish satire known as the Battle of Empik). It did not survive a proposal for a new lease that was presented by officials.

– The almost two-fold increase in rent made the location unprofitable for us – admits the representative of the network Anna Gut-Mostowy. Empik is still looking for a new place in Śródmieście, so far unsuccessfully.

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Three quarters of the rent for the governor

A spokesman for the town hall speaks of one more reason for the divorce years later. The city could not come to an agreement with the company regarding the renovation, and that the tenement house needed it was obvious to the naked eye.

– It was the company’s decision to leave the building by Empik. Another lease agreement for the facility was not concluded due to the lack of agreement as to the amount of rent, but also due to the need to carry out a comprehensive renovation, including, among others: renovation of the façade and replacement of internal installations. The talks concerned whether the renovation would be carried out by one of the parties or maybe jointly, as well as the possibilities and rules for the possible settlement of the costs of work in the rent – explains Jakub Leduchowski from the city office and adds that the cost of these works “then was estimated at PLN 8 million “.

Empik paid PLN 120,644 net monthly, i.e. almost one and a half million a year. But only part of this amount went to Warsaw’s treasury, because the property is owned by the State Treasury, the city only managed it. Meanwhile, as the spokesman for the town hall reminds, in accordance with the Act on real estate management, “75 percent of this amount was transferred to the State Treasury – the Mazowieckie Voivode, and the rest remained in the budget of Warsaw”.

No more culture, there will be an office

Soon after the end of cooperation with Empik, the voivodship office reached out and took over the property for good. Today, the city does not draw a single zloty from it. Neither did the governor. After the war broke out in Ukraine, a help point for refugees was set up there, parcels were distributed, and people were helped to look for work. According to the Voivodship Office, the building was used for this task until February 9. Currently, only posters in the windows and on closed doors remind us of this.

What’s next? The governor wants to renovate the tenement house. The first attempt ended in failure. “We would like to inform you that a tender procedure for the modernization of the building at 15/17 Nowy Świat Street has been announced. However, it was annulled because the estimated value of the contract was exceeded” – informs the press team of the Mazowieckie Voivode.

What idea does the voivode have for the building on the Royal Route? “After the renovation of the building, it is planned to open a modern MUW customer service center, including a foreigner” – we read in the reply.

Jan Mencwel from the City Jest Our association does not like the idea. – A building without open ground floors will not enliven this place, it will not enrich the landscape of the street. On the side of Aleje Jerozolimskie there is a mini square, a place with potential. But it will be wasted, because it is hard to imagine that the office would conduct any activity there – comments Mencwel. It also highlights a broader problem. – It’s not that there are no offices, but they don’t have to occupy such buildings and be concentrated in the center. Offices are also places of work, they should also be located on the right bank of the Vistula River – notes the activist.

Main photo source: Mateusz Szmelter, tvnwarszawa.pl

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