Q: What are the main real estate investment opportunities in Prague?
A: Prague has a large number of brownfield real estate opportunities: cities like Munich and Hamburg have already developed the brownfields. Prague is still an attractive city for this in the middle of Europe. We’re also in need of infrastructure updates like fast trains – we don’t have a fast connection to Berlin or Munich. It’s something that’s still on the table. If you’re looking for brownfields in the city, we can accommodate maybe half a million people in such a place, so it’s an open possibility. Our population is growing by roughly 10,000 to 15,000 per year.
Q: Why is Prague attracting a growing number of young people?
A: People are still picking Berlin over Prague because it is more sexy, but our aim is to change this trend, and in future the investors will pick Prague as their place for business. We are doing a lot for start-ups. We have trouble in affordable housing everywhere in Europe, the prices are going up. Prague has too many tourists. There are too many people who are just there for one night, so we have lots of plans to change the standards of this tourist business.
Prague has a very low unemployment rate. It’s nearly zero. There is a new trend that young people are coming from France or Spain to find their first work in Prague, because for example in France or Spain there is a 20% unemployment rate for university graduates, but if these people come to Prague they find their first work very quickly. They like the low cost of living in Prague compared with cities in France. These people are going into IT or big four advisory companies or high-level educating jobs.
We have an incredible amount of culture that’s growing without any support. Prague is very connected with classical music. So we have this high class connection, as well as the [electronic music scene].
Q: How about the foreign investment opportunities beyond real estate?
A: We started a web service where we are offering our properties to Czech people or businessmen and foreign citizens because that was a problem in the recent past, as there was no common page to find all the properties that you can buy or rent from the city municipalities.
We want to attract technology start-ups. Prague is growing in the IT business, there is a good knowledge base at Prague universities and young people are very well-educated in IT and I hope we can get IT business in Prague and also a start-up centre in the middle of Europe.
I want to give to the city affordable housing, because that brings young, smart people who enjoy the city. Prague is a young and beautiful city landscape. Prague was a big factory city through the 19th century and we lost it when we were converted from a communist city to a capitalist part of Europe. We want the city’s recreation and work in one place, and short distances where you don’t need to use a car as much.
We’re also trying to attract the European agencies, which are now quitting due to Brexit, so I hope we will gain the Global System Assistance agency, a very successful enterprise. We would like to be the capital city of satellite systems in Europe. It might happen in the next two years, so it will attract about 1000 highly educated new employees.
We have very good technical universities in Prague, including one of the oldest technical universities in Europe. We have very good science development and pharmacy. There are a lot of macro-biological institutes which are very successful in outputting patents and working on cures for HIV. There’s a very strong robotics department in the technical university. ‘Robot’ is a Czech word. We’re also working on some bureaucratic obstacles since it’s difficult to obtain permits for buildings.