The huge investment that kick-started Łódź's changing fortunes was Manufaktura, the 2nd biggest of the former textile factories, which opened in 2006 with a host of attractions located on site. It was a key to success, the multifunctional element, mixing historic and modern architecture, a homage to the past, while looking confidently to the future and staving off boredom!
Time for a cool statistic. Manufaktura was the 1st such site to undergo a huge facelift. Now consider how many more old factory sites remain in Łódź? The answer may surprise you: 200 – and these are just the ones that are still standing, whether derelict, revamped, or in the process of modernisation. Hot on the heels of Manufaktura's success were a mixture of organic projects and commercial investments, from the ever popular OFF Piotrkowska to Piotrkowska 217, part of the former Księży Młyn textile factory and the transformation of an old power station into a cultural hub in the form of EC1. The increased investment hasn't just focused on old factories, but all around the city, from the impressive sprucing up of the main thoroughfare, ul. Piotrkowska (which is now an impressive artery in the centre), facades of buildings all around the centre, the old villas and palaces of the industrialists, resurfacing of roads, upgrading parks and facilities, to one of the main ports of arrival, the huge Łódź Fabryczna Train Station revamp, which is bigger than some small airports in Europe! It all sounds fairly standard, but the Łódź of 15+ years ago had a less than savoury reputation for being a rundown city! Almost unrecogisable with the city of today.
WHAT TO SEE?
All of the aforementioned has come about only within the last 10 years, so you just missed out on the grand openings. Fortunately for you, there are further investments coming to Łódź, one of which is opening up in the spring of 2020 – Monopolis. Located on the corner of Al. Piłsudskiego and ul. Kopcińskiego, the site of the former 'Monopol Wódczany' vodka distillery opened in 1902 was once the 3rd largest industrial site in Łódź, behind Karol Scheibler's Księży Młyn and Israel Poznański's Manufaktura. And there you go, a vodka distillery, in the heart of a textile city (it is the land of vodka, after all)! The new site covers 29,900m2 and will contain a whole host of attractions for visitors, the centrepiece being the Museum of Vodka Production (of course!), but also a theatre, cafes and restaurants, a play area for children, a gym and pool, and finally, office space in two new modern buildings, M1 & M2. The main draw, other than the museum, will be the cultural events taking place here, from concerts to exhibitions, and photo and film sessions. An impressive mix of modernity in the next phase in the lifespan of an old industrial site. The scale is impressive.
Nearby, to the south, on the premises of the former Księży Młyn complex, the former Scheibler power station on ul. Tymienieckiego 5/7 (not for the city, but for the complex itself – that's how big it was, once covering 1/3 of the city that it needed to produce its own power!), known as Elektrownia Scheiblera is currently in the very early phase of a large revamp. Built in 1910, the building itself has been a favourite of locals for being designed by Latvian Alfred Frisch in the Art-Noveau style, making it stand out from other bog standard buildings. The new project will see the area named Fuzja (Fusion), the 1st phase of which is aimed to be completed by late 2021, and will contain apartments, but also the usual puzzle pieces which make up such a large investment: offices, places to eat and chill out areas and shops, which will cover 7.7h.
Not far away, again, in the southern part of ul. Piotrkowska at 293/305, the former cotton mill factory site of Ludwik Geyer, a project is underway to create Ogrody Geyera (Geyer's Gardens), which will be focused on having large open green spaces for visitors to enjoy. Again, you can expect offices, apartments, a hotel and cultural spots, all covering 10.5h! The most important venue for you may be the proposed Museum of Paper and Printing! The area is still a work ongoing, however, there have already been open days with entertainment for the kids and summer cinems screenings to enjoy, therefore, you may be lucky to attend such events (check their Facebook page for details) in the near future without fear of trespassing on a building site!
Back in the city centre, between Łódź Fabryczna Station and EC1, there will be more investments being built to contribute to city hall's project of creating Nowe Centrum Łodzi (The New Centre of Łódż). If you're travelled around Poland, you may have noticed that the majority of towns and cities have an old town square – not Łódź. Yes, there is Stary Rynek (named 'old town square' but it's anything but, having only been created in the Communist years), way up north of ul. Piotrkowska, but it's away from the centre, therefore, the city authorities decided it's best to make a new one smack bang in the middle of the city. Why not, huh? The new square will be called Rynek Kobro and cover an area of 5000m2. Not bad, not bad, and perfect for public events. The square will be completed in 2022.
We've gone to great lengths to ensure our readers have the best and up to date information on what to see and do in the city, but also on the major upcoming plans. Even if you perhaps aren't a big fan of architecture or the finer details of the industrial revolution, it's almost inevitable you'll end up in a site which once was a hive of production activity, producing anything from textiles to electricity!
We hope you enjoy your time in the city, and remember, if you've visited recently, just think how much the urban landscape will have changed in just 2 years, 5 years, 10 years...oh, damn! A city is being reborn, and we're in the midst of the transition. A perfect reason to visit again and again.