Wind Sweeps Through Wroclaw's Market Square

The situation at Wroclaw’s Main Square is the worst since a long time: several budsiness premises have been vacant for months, due for bankruptcy or moveouts caused by sky-high rent prices. What’s left is a plethora of 24/7 alcohol shops.

Il Peperocino, Sufi Cafe, Jadłomania – these are but a few names of Wroclaw businesses that closed down last year, including John Bull Pub, the oldest pub in Wroclaw. When questioned for the reasons for closing, the business owners unanimously name too expensive rents and too few, or economizing clients. The prices for a square metre of space in a city-owned burgher house costs from 13 to even 83 PLN, and in private market are even higher.

“We have been experiencing crisis for the last three years. People spend less for entertainment, eat at home. Besides, there is no parking space in the city centre, so people prefer going to malls, where they are always dry and warm” says Elżbieta Andrzejewska, the owner of Rynek 41 house and Amorino cafe, who wants to save the famous neighbouring Pod Złotym Psem restaurant, closed two months ago.

What spawns in greater numbers every quarter are small grocer's/off licence chain stores, such as Małpka Express and Żabka.

“These are currently our greatest headache. Renting space to off-licence stores in the vicinity of the Market Square is a mistake, which affects the restaurant owners. In the times of crisis, people would rather buy a 2-złote beer, and drink it on a bench, than go to a pub or a restaurant. Not to mention the majority of Rynek-goers are students and young people, who prefer to economize” says Andrzej Dobek, the chairman of the Nasz Rynek Association, which centres ca. 50 eat-out venues from the Old Town, and for ca. 20 years the owner of Jazda, Error and PRL.

In Dobek’s opinion, th authorities of Wrocław have no idea how to arrange the Market Square, and do not run a consequent policy of revitalising Wrocław's Old Town.

“If the Market Square had a proper activisation programme for the Old Town, we wouldn’t have such a rotation here, such emptiness, the overwhelming number of banks and grocers' in the vicinity of restaurants. What we have now is simply a mess” claims Dobek.

Przemysław Filar, the chairman of Wrocław's Embellishing Society: “The Market Square is diminishing, because Wrocław has become a “pretzel city”. Inside, there is the pretty-pretty Main Square, the neighbourhoods around it deteriorate, and people move out to well-maintained suburbs. From there, it is closer to the mall than to the Old Town, where there is no parking space, and no direct public transport access. And when you throw in a  growing number of malls, also in the heart of the city, the answer isn’t hard to find.

So far, the city has started on with Świdnicka St., the condition of which is even worse. The proof can be found e.g. in the rapidly growing number of second-hand stores.

“We want to promote this street and again turn it into the salon of Wrocław. Improving Świdnicka’s image is one of city’s greater challenges” declares Małgorzata Krajewska from the municipal press office.

Not so long ago, Wrocław’s Economical Development Bureau has been distributing flyers among the local tenants, requesting their suggestions for activization of the street.

“It is local businessmen in Świdnicka, who know best what the customer traffic is like there. Their observations and experience are most important, therefore the city has invited them to cooperate and dialogue. Of course, not all proposals can be put in practice, but the first stage is mostly about establishing a common position, and implementing some actions" adds Krajewska. 

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