Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2015 - Page 37

Photo: Olli Häkämies (From left to right) Kim Särs, Kirsi Borg and Vesa Immonen believe that Tapiola is about to witness a "real renaissance" in the years to come. Borg, head of new entity Promote Tapiola, says that the shopping centre will eventually feature 50,000 square metres and as many as 100 shops. “The construction for Phase II has already started and should be finalised by January 2017,” Borg says. Hit the Ground Running The first phase has surpassed all expectations: in just a year, Ainoa has become a genuine meeting place for the local community. This is good news for the shop owners, since the purchasing power in this particular area is second to none in the entire country. “The purchasing power here is 30–40 % better than the Helsinki average, for example,” Borg offers a comparison. There is plenty of customer volume in the area, too: in fact, 93,000 people live within a 10 minute car ride from the shopping centre. Also, the youthful approach and dedicated focus on leisure appear to be winning strategies. The reports from the shopping centre’s “youth team” confirm that it’s just the kind of place that the younger people have been wishing for – a place where you go to meet your friends and just hang out. A big part of tomorrow’s winning concept is Stockmann department store which will form a major anchor for Ainoa in the coming years. The department store will move from its previous location to Ainoa as the Phase II kicks in. Under Construction Presently, however, both Tapiola and Ainoa are dealing with their share of challenges as the construction continues in the area. This means that people are worried, for instance, that they can’t find a parking spot. Borg says that considering this temporary handicap, the new shopping centre has performed very well: “The number of customers has grown steadily since the opening” The real “critical mass” however, will be reached as the construction is complete and the metro is up and running. Presently, there are already 150 stores in the commercial hub. “This neighbourhood is a real winner, now and in the long run,” she believes, adding that there is a genuine opportunity here to build and expand on a great legacy. “As there are more apartments coming to the neighbourhood, the customer base and purchasing power will improve even more. We are definitely on our way.” Residential Power Real Estate Funds Director Kim Särs from LocalTapiola Real Estate Asset Management is thinking along the same lines: “There are as many as 260 apartments coming to the area – and also smaller apartments which are in high demand by young people,” Särs says, explaining that the master plan is to introduce some “new blood” into the community by renewing the demographics. “The younger customer groups are mobile and used to utilising a wide range of services.” The idea here is to solidify urban structure by building up, which means, in essence, that apartments will be realised on top of other buildings. “This type of compact construction is something we have been working on for a long time. This is a great location that makes it possible to accomplish a variety of things,” Särs says. Särs is not even worried about the murky economy, since Tapiola is built with the focus on the long term – it’s not about winning the day, it’s about winning the decNordicum 35