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World Trade Centre costs €120M and will rise in Carnaxide (Expresso)

06 Dec 2020
​Foz Vintage's investment project includes three buildings with offices, a hotel, an auditorium and commercial spaces. But it won't be a skyscraper.

The name World Trade Centre brings almost immediately to mind the Twin Towers of New York, USA. However, it is, in fact, today a registered trademark used in more than 300 office buildings around the world. And Portugal, more precisely Lisbon, will be one of the next locations to have a business complex with that name. ‘It was one of the few capitals in Europe that didn't have a World Trade Centre (WTC) and, with the advance of startups, it became an attraction for companies creating an interesting ecosystem for the WTC’, Luciano Montenegro de Menezes, executive director of the World Trade Centers Association, explains to Expresso.

The project, which met all the necessary requirements to be able to use the WTC brand, is by Foz Vintage, a Porto company established in 2018, with an investment of €120M in this construction. ‘When the WTC considered coming to Lisbon, it saw in our project the ideal place to implement its
concept. There was no demand or competition, it was a perfect meeting between those who wanted to develop the building and those who wanted to develop the WTC activity in Portugal. Foz Vintage wanted to find an innovative solution that was more than an office enterprise. WTC aimed at finding a benchmark building, like the rest of the world’, Vasco Fonseca, Foz Vintage's COO, tells Expresso.

Located in Carnaxide, WTC Lisbon will have a total of 70 000 m2, but will not be a skyscraper. It will comprise three buildings with 25 000 m2 of office spaces and 4 000 m2 of commercial areas for restaurants, shops and gyms. There will also be another building for a hotel with 127 rooms and an auditorium for 205 people; another one for retail with 1 700 m2; 10 000 m2 of gardens and exterior spaces and parking for 1 000 cars. In addition, it will be an ‘environmentally responsible venture’, with, for example, fast-charging stations for electric cars; it will also be a pet-friendly space. It will also be ‘the first building in Portugal and one among a few dozen worldwide with Leed Gold and Well Gold certifications. Leed Gold refers to the quality of the building itself and the Well Gold refers to people’s well-being’, explains Vasco Fonseca.

In fact, according to Luciano de Meneses, ‘as there can only be one WTC per city or region, it must be a benchmark construction with the best attributes and certifications in the market. As for Lisbon, the certifications, the green spaces, and the fact that it is a multipurpose space driven by digital transformation make it a benchmark. That's why the association “always” looks for buildings that are yet to be built because the characteristics they seek “are usually difficult to find in an already existing construction”, he adds.
Now, when the WTC association started looking for buildings in Lisbon, the Foz Vintage project was under development. The land purchased by the Porto company ‘already had an office project, approved and allotted’, but they decided to ‘transform the concept that was starting here’ to make a benchmark building, not only in terms of construction but also in environmental terms. The works began ‘in August 2019’ and ‘the concrete structures of the two office buildings are currently being built, a phase that will be completed in March of next year, when we will start working on the hotel. The project is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2022’, explains Vasco Fonseca. A deadline that did not suffer major delays because of COVID-19. The pandemic, which no one could have anticipated, presented us with additional challenges, in order to guarantee all the standards and the safety of our people; it is obvious that it had an impact and that WTC Lisbon suffered some constraints when it came to its execution timing. However, our forecast of completion of the works does not significantly deviate from what we had initially planned’, notes Foz Vintage COO.

Monthly rents of €16 per m2

Along with the construction works, Foz Vintage began the commercialization of the offices whose monthly rent will be around €16 per m2, with the objective of renting the spaces to ‘large companies and large business groups, both national and international, which may use various floors or, at least, one floor per company [2000 m2 each]’. Despite the increase of people working from home, Foz Vintage is confident in this process.

‘Although it is an interesting solution, it is unthinkable for companies to have an entire team permanently working from home. On the one hand, not all people have adapted to it and want it. On the other hand, direct contact, interaction and collaboration are key elements both for productivity and for the development of a strong culture in companies’, says Vasco Fonseca. For the head of Foz Vintage, when the pandemic is but a distant memory, working from home will not be a corporate trend, but rather having offices that are more than just a workspace. ‘It is, in this sense, that WTC Lisbon intends to make a difference, with the good environment, the infrastructure, the concierge service, the light, the comfort or the green spaces.’

He also adds the advantages of having the WTC name. ‘What the World Trade Centre offers us is more than a brand for which we pay a royalty. The WTC network is one of the largest business networks in the world, so it will provide access to a range of benefits and opportunities for companies based here and for their employees, such as conferences, workshops or business networking.’

More advanced is the search for the hotel operator, already undergoing ‘contract negotiations’. In fact, that’s why we cannot reveal the partner's name. It will, however, be an operator with management experience, more geared towards business-oriented units. ‘More than a tourist location, the World Trade Centre Lisbon is a business centre for business travellers. It wouldn't be the same, in a development like this, to have or not to have a hotel. From the studies we carried out in other markets, this is a model that works very well’, says Vasco Fonseca.
All that’s missing is the retail building, which will be commercialised later, because ‘it’s not yet defined what it will become’. ‘We are considering a gourmet space, or perhaps another type of store, or even a startup incubator’, concludes Vasco Fonseca.
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