Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2016 - Page 38

True Colours Tapiola – the original Garden City – is returning to its former glory as a wave of new construction hits Tapiola Centre Not so long ago, Tapiola, the iconic “Garden City” of Espoo, had fallen on hard times. With new and shiny shopping centres emerging all around the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Tapiola Commercial Centre was struggling to keep up. After all, the first parts of the Tapiola Centre date back to the 1950s and 1960s and little progress had been seen since. T he owners in the Centre were reluctant to do much about the situation, since it would mean considerable investment and uncertain outcome. In addition, the local owners had different opinions on how the classic neighbourhood should be revitalised. Then, there was the decision by the City of Espoo to build the western metroline, with Tapiola as a key station. Metro promised fresh momentum and one of the local owners, LocalTapiola Real Estate Asset Management, wanted to ride that wave. Pretty soon, LocalTapiola was making considerable investments in the Tapiola Centre and leading by example, which meant, in time, that other investors followed. Rescue Operation Vesa Immonen, Managing Director of LocalTapiola Real Estate Asset Management, says that rescuing Tapiola Commercial Centre was something that the company just felt it had to do: 36 Nordicum “Without a strong investor to show the way, Tapiola Centre would have shrivelled up eventually,” Immonen says. But what is it exactly about Tapiola that makes it so special? To answer this question, one must look back in time – all the way to the 50’s, when the name Tapiola was synonymous with ‘future’. Since its birth over 60 years ago, Tapiola has been regarded as a natural treasure: a shining example of a modern community rooted in natural values. Tapiola Centre formed a highly valued architectural landmark for the “community of tomorrow” that attracted attention worldwide. Pedestrian Paradise Immonen believes that the Tapiola “core brand” r