Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2013 - Page 19

Photo: Studio Daniel Libeskind for NCC, Aerial photo: Lentokuva Vallas Oy regards to the retail offering, he believes that the international chains could well co-exist with a more local offering – there is room for both. Walk This Way Appearing at the same seminar, there was Project Manager Kalle Vaismaa from traffic research centre Verne, who championed the cause of the pedestrians. He has been benchmarking Central European cities and noticed that “pedestrian power” is really rising all over. In Odense, Denmark, for example, pedestrians are considered VIPs in the City’s traffic strategy, meaning that there is a variety of services targeted for this group alone. In some cities, motor traffic clearly adjusts to the speed of the pedestrians and not the other way around. Enjoyable pedestrian routes around the downtown – and along the waterfront, if applicable – are sure to peak people’s interest. Different types of walking tours – with e.g. historical or architectural themes – also go a long away in instilling a pedestrian culture which encourages people to stay in the downtown area – even after most shops have closed their doors. Both Mitronen and Vaismaa appeared at the conference which marked the 15th anniversary of Finnish Living City Centre Association. During this time, the Living City Centre Association has spearheaded the cause of dynamic downtown areas, trying to find ways to keep moving forward. The association awards one distinguished city each year for accomplishments in this field. Mikkeli Magic fic connections are the key to any vibrant hub. Also the places and spaces must be “human-scale”, so that the pedestrians are not overwhelmed in anyway. Mitronen talks about increasing the sense of safety by lighting, clear, concise paths for movement, manicured parks and rest areas. Mitronen also has a clear opinion on the optimal mix regarding old and new buildings: he sees that the preservation and utilisation of existing, older properties is very important and renewal projects should take care to respect the old stock. Lasse Mitronen also pointed out that no city centre is all about the stores. Apartments and jobs are needed, too; a plethora of cafés, restaurants and other places for people to meet and spend some time together. With In 2012, this recognition went to Mikkeli for revamping their city centre to the tune of 153 million euros (with the City’s share kept down at 10 %). The upgrade relied on careful planning: together with the citizens, a City 2010 vision was created already back in 2002–2005 – and that vision was realised almost in its entirety. Now, the Eastern Finland city boasts a brand new travel centre and a super-dynamic duo: the former Shopping Centre of the Year (2010) Akseli and reigning Shopping Centre of the Year (2012) Stella. Add to the mix, a lively year-round market square, pedestrian center with heated walkways and the most modern market square parking facility around, and you know why Mikkeli is so hot right now. Innovative thinking is very much the key to the city centre renewal at Hämeenlinna, also. The City of Hämeenlinna is building a 230-metre deck over highway 3, linking the western and eastern parts of the city centre. Construction work began in September 2011, with the deck set for completion in June 2013. Once the deck is completed, construction company NCC will build apartment buildings and a shopping centre of around 60 shops on it. The buildings are due for completion during autumn 2014 and also the new shopping centre should open its doors then. Experts are hailing the deck solution as a genius invention which will help this Southern Finland city to create – finally – a unified city centre, with a brand new shopping