Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2014 - Page 53

ment, says that the development of Tapiola Commercial centre is a high priority for the company. “Likewise, expanding our expertise with regards to shopping centres is very important to us,” he says. Tapiola is near and dear to the hearts of all Finns and widely regarded as a natural treasure; upon its birth 60 years ago, Tapiola was a shining example of a modern garden city. The first-built parts of Tapiola Commercial Centre from the 1950s and 1960s still form a valued architectural landmark. Take a Stroll! As the Helsinki metro line extends to Tapiola in 2015, the blocks to the south of the original centre will be renewed according to the same urban sociological principles that first created the Garden City – and the complexion of the centre will become that much brighter and stronger. “The new Tapiola centre will become the largest pedestrian centre in Finland,” Immonen points out. The level previously in use for private car traffic (Merituulentie, Länsituulentie) will feature retail spaces and a pedestrian area. There will be plenty of parking space for bikes in the vicinity of the metro station. New plazas and pedestrian streets will appear in Tapiola Centre, and the roof area will be green and well-groomed. The real game-changer here is the metro: with 30,000 passengers using the Tapiola station every day, the volumes are sufficient to usher in a completely new chapter in the development of the neighbourhood. Back in the Game Hit the Wallet According to Tapiola’s studies on the neighbourhood, there is plenty of volume in the area: in fact, 200,000 people live within a 10 minute car ride from the shopping centre. Also, the purchasing power in this particular area is second to none in the entire country, so one can forecast a great future for a shopping centre that features a youthful approach and dedicated focus on leisure. Vesa Immonen, the Managing Director of LocalTapiola Real Estate Asset Manage- The over-all aim is to create a lively, multifaceted urban centre with modern mass transportation terminals, well-organised parking and maintenance arrangements. When all these things come together – building on a great legacy – there will be no stopping Tapiola’s comeback: “There is no place quite like it in the entire country,” Immonen says, adding that the foundation is solid and well-known and future development will only add to the appeal of Tapiola. Kirsi Borg adds that Tapiola has always been known as a cultural powerhouse and more and more culture and sports players flock to the neighbourhood. The City of Espoo theatre, for one, is already here and there’s talk of realising a brand new City theatre right here, too. But what was it that caused Tapiola to miss a step or two – why is the commercial appeal of the centre in need of a rescue in the first place? Borg comments that the fragmented ownership of the Tapiola Centre didn’t exactly help in the development of the area and that the last decade has seen the emergence of strong rivals in the form of new shopping centres. “Tapiola centre has not been a really respected, dynamic commercial centre for at least ten years. Now, however, we are confident that a united, strong effort will bring the consumers back,” Borg outlines the strategy. Stockmann Support A big part of the attack plan is Stockmann which will form a major anchor for Ainoa in the coming years. The department store will move from its previous location to Ainoa when the Phase II