Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2014 - Page 32

Green-edge communities rising in Espoo Espoo wants to be in the forefront of developing the communities of the future. A perfect example of this attitude is Suurpelto, which combines Garden City appeal with hi-tech edge. Located along Ring Road II, the new community is now getting started in earnest. I n Suurpelto, all the important things are near: schools, daycare, parks, services, jobs and homes are right there. This way, you have more time to focus on the things that matter the most, says Project Director Pekka Vikkula. “Many of the visions we had for Suurpelto are being realised in a big way,” he says. One of the driver concepts is “service lobby” which brings services (ranging from groceries to library books) straight to the residents – and thanks to a new pop-up mentality, these types of things are very much in demand by the citizens and easier to carry out. “We have the infrastructure and network in place and are ready to develop the service offering onwards,” he says. Right now, there are already info screens in the lobbies where the residents can acquire the information they need – be it bus schedules or weather concerns – by just glancing at the screen. 30 Nordicum Light on the Hill Even more important for the spirit of the emerging community is the kick-off of the construction of Opinmäki school (Learning Hill). At the end of November, work finally started on Opinmäki which is the biggest and most ambitious school project in the history of Espoo. The school comes with price tag of EUR 50 million and it is scheduled for completion in summer 2015. Rooted on a unique concept, the premises of Opinmäki will be available for various functions of the community outside school hours, making it a great meeting place and the true heart for Suurpelto. The City is looking to take the same success formula to the new neighbourhood of Kera – with some extra ingredients, of course. The rather run-down industrial area of Kera is lacking in appeal right now, but connectivity is right on the money: Kera is located in the middle of Espoo, with an ex- isting train stop. Leppävaara city centre is mere minutes to the east of here – even by bicycle. Kera: Best Kept Secret? Olavi Louko, Deputy Mayor for the City of Espoo, says that if one is looking to improve urban cohesion, it is hard to beat Kera. As industrial players have, one by one, exited the area, the field has been left wide open for redevelopment – and the City wants to do it right: “Kera meets every criteria of sustainable community development we can think of. There are even existing jobs in the area, but not much in the residential side.” That is about to change in the coming years: the City envisions that Kera could feature as many as 10 000–15 000 residents and become a real banner-bearer for green development. “Kera could be an urban, modern community that really focuses on traffic solutions tailored for pedestrian and bicycle traffic,” Louko says. The future will show, if Kera is to become an almost “car-free” neighbourhood, but it certainly has the makings of a superstar community.