In the second half of 2016 the offices under construction in Sofia city reached 175 000 sq.m. The offices are expected to become ready in the capital city of Bulgaria in 2017. Great deal of these new office premises are based in the main business zones of the city, along Tsarigradsko Schousse Blvd., the ring road, the Business Center in Mladost 4 District and the city center.
Even so, the trend is for decreased number of available office premises. In fact, the available offices of class A and B in the last quarter of 2016 were approximately 210 000 sq.m, which is two times less than the previous quarter. The average rental levels remain unchanged, which means 11-14 Euro/sq.m for the offices of class A and 6.5-8.5 Euros/sq.m for the offices of class B.
The government of Bulgaria have allocated additional 20 million for three of its southeastern regions, I order to build a fence along the Turkish border. The fence that is referred to as a temporary deterring installation will be set to stop the migratory pressure on the border between Turkey and Bulgaria that have been growing in the past few years. According to the press statement by the government it will also stem the wave of the refugees.
Since 2014 for more than two years, the costs for the building of the fence have surpassed 100 million BGN. In addition, the cabinet have given more money to repair the border crossing, as well as the border police equipment and stations. All those measures have been done in relation with the hope for accession of Bulgaria in the travel-free Schengen zone.
One of the major construction companies in Bulgaria will built a huge office center right in the heart of the Bulgarian capital Sofia. This will be the second phase of the Polygraphia Office Center and it is calculated at 10 million Euros. The completion of the new office project is planned for the end of the summer 2017 and is expected to provide 12 600 sq.m of Offices of the highest class A. The investment is backed up with the Bulgarian holding company AG Capital and the British Real Estate Fund Northridge Capital.
The new office building will feature six floors and an inner yard. It will be connected to the already existing office center through a solid covered passage. It will feature a parking zone on two levels with 100 parking lots. The new office building will further have an ecological certificate LEED Silver. The rental levels in that office building under construction, are expected to be around 13 Euro/sq.m.
In the end of October Romania and Bulgaria agreed that their aim to get a visa free traveling would be included in the interpretative declaration of CETA. This was an answer to the concerts that Wallonia, the Belgian region, had.
During the summit of the European Union, the Prime Minister of Bulgaria informed the press about the good news and the fact that the visa situation will be solved. Until that moment, Canada had a no visa regime with all countries from the European Union except with Bulgaria and Romania. Now the two countries do not have objection to CETA, yet they wanted to solve the visa issues they have with Canada. Different meetings have been held between the European Commission, Romania and Bulgaria, as well as Canada, aiming to solve this visa issue. Thus, since 1st December 2017 there will be no visas for residents of the two countries who want to enter Canada.
The regulation, which will come into force on 20th December will require all European Union countries to act as if one on all cases including visa matters. Romania and Bulgaria confirmed once again that they are ready for entering Schengen area for several years already, yet they have been prevented by vetos from several countries.
Various companies from UK and Russia show interest towards Sofia offices market. They are opening new branches in the capital city of Bulgaria and are one of the numerous companies that are looking for new and larger office premises. Due to that many investors have stared new office building projects in 2016, choosing locations that are within easy reach to the already established office areas in Sofia.
The new companies that are in search of offices in Sofia are looking for 700 – 800 sq.m of usable area, in office buildings of class A, placed within easy reach to the central parts of the city. Those companies are usually outsourcing their business to Sofia, or are working in the spheres of communications, financial services, information technologies, etc. Often those companies are serving not the local Bulgarian markets but clients outside the territory of the country.
The new European border and coast guard control was launched in an official ceremony this autumn at the checkpoint Kapitan Andreevo, on the border between Turkey and Bulgaria. This border is also considered an external border of the European Union. The new task force was organized and built by the border management agency Frontex due to the overwhelming refugee situation.
The new European border and coast guard control will have new powers and more staff – approximately 1500 guards and technical equipment. In addition, liaison officers will be stationed in various states of the European Union that have external borders and will monitor the movements.
Until now Frontex was not able to offer effective control on the external borders of the European Union due to the lack of staff and the limited powers of the agency.
The rental levels of the Sofia offices vary in the price range between 10 and 13 Euro/sq.m, while the interest towards the new office projects remains high. These facts make many investors start planning new office buildings in preferred Sofia office locations in the next 12-18 months.
The newly founded companies in Bulgaria and those that are outsourcing their business in the capital city of Sofia are looking towards office premises of around 200-300 sq.m. There are also companies that are searching for office premises of 700-800 sq.m. The business situation in Bulgaria is changing and that is felt everywhere. In many cases the companies that are looking for offices in Sofia are serving markets and clients outside the country.
The office buildings with central location and good functional distribution of the office premises have been rented with approximately 5-10% availability only. The rental levels are between 10 and 13 Euro/sq.m. depending on the desire of the owners of those offices to make discounts.
The European border agency have been inaugurated at Kapitan Andreevo checkpoint between Bulgaria and Turkey border in October this year. The two countries are now separated with a razor wire and a metal fence. The European border agency aims to be the main frontier on land for the migrants that want to enter Europe but avoid the crossing of the Mediterranean Sea.
Approximately 1500 officers and 19 state members will be at the disposal of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, who can be quickly mobilized if there is an emergency. Officials from the European Union hope that this will increase the security and will help the cooperation between the various member states that have been arguing in connection with the refugees.
It seems that the long-term goal is for lifting the border controls that are inside the block and for restoring the passport-free area of Schengen. The director of the EBCG, Fabrice Leggeri, stated that the new agency is well equipped and quite strong to cope with the security challenges and the migration situation.
According to Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU Migration Commissioner, since the launching of the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency, the external border of Bulgaria becomes an external border of all member states. The agency will further be involved in the repatriation of those migrants that have been rejected from the asylum and are accepted as a threat to the security.