There has never been a place on Kraków’s cultural and nightlife map to rival it. Since opening just four years ago, the post-industrial space known as Dolne Młyny – housed on the site of a former tobacco factory – has become wildly popular with locals and tourists. Operating almost as an autonomous city in a city, it is chock-full of pubs, bars, and concert and exhibition spaces.
But by the end of this month the foundation that has administered the area in this time must hand it over to the owner of the site, a Spanish developer. What comes next is not yet clear. There is a vague promise of a hotel complex, preserving at least part of its current character. There are also hopes that Dolne Młyny could be reborn elsewhere in the city.
Of course, like any bustling city center area that remains lively well into the small hours, Dolne Młyny also had its critics. Nearby residents complained about the noise, the weekly excesses and the mess left in the surrounding streets.
In 2018 environmental problems began to appear too. The Spanish owners of the site, Immobilaria Camins Polska (ICP), presented soil tests they had commissioned which signalled the need for the Tytano Foundation to move out fast. Among other issues, norms for zinc and other heavy metals were exceeded tenfold. This was the beginning of a two-year legal battle that will conclude on 30 September as the area is handed over to the developer.
“According to our agreement, the site will be surrendered in no worse state than when it was taken over by Tytano,” Łukasz Kumecki from the foundation told local newspaper Gazeta Krakowska. “I will not destroy anything, I will dismantle what I can use in new locations on a new project. The tenants will no doubt be doing the same, as they have invested significant money here.”