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Rebuilding Ukraine

CEEQA Ukraine Live Connect works across borders to develop contacts, knowledge and understanding of the Ukraine real estate sector for investors, developers and services active in the CEE real estate market place, today and in the post-war future. With EU accession and Nato membership on the horizon, and ongoing EBRD support, among other developments internally and externally to position Ukraine as a major open and transparent European market place of the future, now is a good time to pay attention.

UPDATE 5 February 2024


Behind closed doors meeting 4pm-5.30pm 14 May 2024, Bristol Hotel Warsaw

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, has experienced severe and constant bombardment by Russian forces with over 1/3 of its buildings damaged or destroyed, having previously repelled an occupation attempt at immense cost to the city. How does it keep going?

– Leader to leader briefing and discussion
– On the ground update intel and perspectives resourcing ongoing repairs, public and private
– Legal and financial view
– Kharkiv Palace Hotel bombing, status and recovery plan
– Nikolsky operational update

Contact Richard Hallward +48502201080.


UPDATE 4 July 2023

CEEQA’s Richard Hallward visits restored shopping malls RETROVILLE in Kyiv and NIKOLSKY in Kharkiv to present 2023 CEEQA Resilience awards

In the fog of war the Ukraine real estate sector is showing the same resilience and defiance as the Ukrainian military in the battlefield.

One of the highlights of the 2023 edition of CEEQA was the announcement of special CEEQA Resilience awards to each of two landmark shopping malls in Ukraine that had been rebuilt and restored to near full operation less than a year following destructive bombings in the heat of the initial Russian invasion in March 2022.

The mission was to deliver and present the award statuettes to the recipients. After exploring options, in light of the resilience and bravery of the RETROVILLE and NIKOLSKY malls’ management, was to match it with a trip into Ukraine to present the awards in person, and to tour the battered cities of Ukraine’s caapital, Kyiv, and the city of Kharkiv close to Ukraine’s far eastern border with Russia.

Just over a year ago Kyiv and Kharkiv were both encircled by Russian forces trying to take each of the cities in the first wave of ferocious fighting and bombardment. They were met by fierce Ukrainian resistance and were ultimately repelled from both cities, but not before unleashing devastating destruction on civilian residential and municipal buildings, monuments, education and leisure facilities, and important commercial infrastructure.

Extreme challenges

The immense challenges of executing building works and restoring to operation a large scale shopping mall as the war continues to rage with regular destructive shelling of cities including Kyiv and Kharkiv, and fierce fighting on the eastern and south flanks of Ukraine, cannot be underestimated. Apart from the actual reconstruction, including personnel and material requirements and other resourcing challenges, there is zero access to debt finance or insurance, putting all the risk and reliance entirely on equity finance, with no guarantees.

On the night Hallward arrived in Kyiv, seven Russian missiles where launched at the city, two of which evaded air defences with one destroying an apartment building. The only guarantee of continued operation and footfall is the defiant resilience and spirit of the Ukrainian people.


On 20 March 2022 Russian forces launched a devastating missile attack on Kyiv’s RETROVILLE shopping and entertainment centre, completely destroying business, recreation areas of the shopping mall and significantly damaging business and retail components, engineering networks and communications infrastructure.

The opening of the restored shopping mall galleries was carried out in stages, the last part opened on March 20, 2023, exactly one year after a missile attack.

More than 15 tenants have reopened in the 78,500 sqm GLA/123,000 sqm GBA shopping centre since June 2022, including Terranova, JYSK, New Balance, Famo, Duna, Vovk, Osczr, CallagHan, Formenti, Skechers, Vizhital, Sarto Grange, Athletics, CaseHub (island), Currency Exchange, Zrobi Sam (island), PRO Espresso and Coffeelat. By August 2022, a mere six months after the blast, more than 50 stores were already operational.

Award presentation and tour

Having travelled to Kyiv by train from Warsaw on 23 June, Hallward met the director of RETROVILLE, Renata Jakubcioniene, and members of her team, to formally present the CEEQA Resilience award statuette.

Hallward was given a tour of the nearly completely restored main shopping centre where the vast majority of tenants had reopened, as well as the ongoing restoration works on the still badly wrecked business centre, leisure and entertainment complex, which had been completely destroyed by the devastating missile.

The defiance and optimism of the RETROVILLE team, and the diligence and speed with which they had managed the restoration, was inspiring. The blown out windows and gaping holes where there were once floor plates in the business centre, and row of burnt out cars in the outside car park, were a stark reminder of what unfolded little more than a year previously.

NIKOLSKY “gem”, Kharkiv

Kharkiv has suffered by far the worst levels of destruction of any of the major towns and cities across Ukraine during Russia’s barbaric war of aggression.

Richard Hallward met Maksym Gavyushyn, COO of Budhouse Group, the developer of the 53,000 sqm GLA/106,000 sqm GBA mall, for a tour of the restored facility. The concept of NIKOLSKY is devoted to the history, people, and celebrities of the city, The interiors mirror the city achievements, main events, local culture, and flavors. At the same time, it is designed in contemporary and futuristic style. A huge domed glass canopy roof (3,200 sqm, a Ukrainian national record), a single atrium space without columns, interactive floors, augmented reality systems, theme-styled suites, and many other have become distinctive features of Nikolsky.

Cultural and historical design details decorate all parts of the building and shopping areas with astonishing levels of detail, down to themed sinks in the rest rooms celebrating Kharkiv’s rich manufacturing history. There are around 150 shops including international tenants, among its anchors are Silpo, the Ukrainian market leader in the supermarket sector, H&M with its first store outside of the Ukrainian capital, Zara, New Yorker, LCWaikiki, FLO, Foxtrot, House and Cropp. It also includes he largest Multiplex in the city, a bowling-club, the Smile Park (an entertainment centre for children), the sports club Sport Life and many more.

The NIKOLSKY project, completed in 2021, came a close second in both the Retail Development of the Year and overall CEE Development of the Year categories at CEEQA 2022.

The missile that struck the building on 9 March, 2022 pierced through two floors, mainly destroying the engineering and electricity works of the building as well as parts of the interior and facade. The strong structure of the building prevented greater damage. It is now fully operational with only a few tenants yet to reopen, with a current average footfall of 28,000 visitors per day, only a 20% drop on pre-war levels.

Award presentation and tour of Kharkiv

The CEEQA Resilience award was presented in the presence of management of the mall as well as a delegation from Kharkiv City Council led by Viktoriia Kytaihorodska, Director of the Department of Administrative Services and the Consumer Market, joined by members of the Department of International Cooperation. Kytaihorodska described the mall as a treasured gem at the centre of Kharkiv.

After the presentation the group was taken on a tour of the city, taking in the beautiful central park areas, littered with burnt out shells of buildings from ongoing regular missile attacks, including the City Council and mayor’s office itself on the main Freedom Square.

This followed a harrowing tour of the swathes of decimated buildings along the northern edge of the city, front line of the fiercest fighting little over 6 months ago. Strewn with bombed out residential and administrative buildings, as well as a large school and neighbouring kindergarten, its outside playground still in tact, recovery will take years, if not decades, to achieve.

The tour concluded with a typical Ukrainian lunch at a smart downtown restaurant.

Everyone at the table was pinned to their phones reading updates on Telegram of the Wagner Group’s march on Moscow, happening not far across the border with Russia from which Kharkiv lies only 30km away. Multiple toasts were made to the future of Kharkiv, the future of Ukraine and the hoped for demise of Putin and his barbaric ‘special military operation’.

Most striking, once again, was the proud defiance and resilience of the people of the city, already getting down to the task of reimagining and rebuilding Kharkiv, plans already underway to resource and undertake the rebuilding and renewal of Kharkiv as a modern, sustainable city – with the help of Sir Norman Foster’s foundation, as it happens.

No looking back.

Witnessing the damage to Kyiv, devastation of Moshchun, Irpin and Bucha

Kyiv has the appearance of business as usual most of the time. Following dinner at a busy restaurant in central Kyiv, Hallward strolled through the city centre with his Ukrainian hosts Maksym Gavryushyn (retail developer Budhouse Group) and Volodymyr Tymochko (investor Dragon Capital). It could have been a Saturday night in any major city, buzzing and active.

This was in stark contrast to the following day’s deeply harrowing trip through the total devastation of the villages of Irpin and Mochshun on the north west fringe of Kyiv, then Bucha, the site of the Russian forces’ most terrible attrocities and mass executions of civilians exactly 15 months ago. Budhouse’s burly construction director Oleksandr joined the guided tour in Moshchun where he lives, and was in the front room of his house when the Russians arrived. He showed the fan of bullet holes in wall next to the sofa where he sat.

Moshchun and the twin rural villages of Irpin and Bucha were in the path of the Russian assault on Kyiv. Most shocking was the apparent wanton and random destruction the Russian forces inflicted on the homes of civilians, killing many. Moszchun and Irpin are now ghost towns and the few families left in the villages live in the ruins of their homes

The atrocities that took place are well documented. When the Russian army’s wave of violence receded, the horrors of its inhumanity were discovered in the wake. About 500 civilians were executed or otherwise shot and killed on city streets.

The road back will be long and hard. But despite the atrocities and war crimes meted out on the infrastructure and people of Ukraine, their optimism, courage and will to rebuild remains undimmed.

UPDATE 13 June 2023

Ukraine real estate, what happens next?

On 13 June, 2023 a leader-to-leader briefing and discussion meeting took place at Nobu Hotel in Warsaw, connecting key figures in Ukraine government, investment, development and services with their counterparts in the CEE and international real estate market place.

The CEE contingent of company owners, CEOs and directors of top tier firms heard Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Economy, Oleksandr Griban, sharing insights on the current climate and future aims during, and post-war. Mr Griban was joined by Volodymyr Tymochko, Managing Director Private Equity at Ukraine’s largest investment group Dragon Capital), Maksym Gavryushyn, COO of leading Ukrainian developer Budhouse Group, and Oleg Fedulin, Senior Banker Property and Tourism CEE and Ukraine at EBRD.

Fedulin shared information that EBRD has been active in Ukraine throughout the war with loans and support of around 1.2b euros, as well as plans to spend over 3b euros before the end of 2023.

Tymochko acknowledged the challenging current environment but also active role of local equity investment in continuing development and rebuilding processes, notably in warehousing, while Gavryushyn detailed with some optimism the ongoing building works in Ukraine, despite lack of access to debt finance and insurance.

The gathering preceded the CEEQA Jury Dinner at which the final voting takes place for the annual CEEQA awards.

Considerable international finance is already lined up to address the ongoing destruction of commercial infrastructure and assets once the war is over. However, as military operations continue, rebuild and recovery in some asset classes is already underway. 


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