Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2019 - Page 31

as virtual and augmented reality to create unique environments. Nevertheless, even the most mind- blowing experience hubs need great connec- tivity. Johanna Aho points out that a central location with good connections goes a long way in today’s shopping center business. “You need a place that is easily accessi- ble to great volumes of people – that’s becom- ing even more important, especially in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area,” she says, mak- ing a reference to the barometer findings. Both Redi and Tripla, for example, enjoy superb connections and are likely to attract plenty of curious patrons for that reason alone. Eastern Promises: Itis The “old” shopping center market is not stagnant, either. It was announced in Octo- ber 2018 that Itis, Finland’s largest shopping center located in East Helsinki, is changing ownership. Dutch property investor Wereld- have sold Itis to a fund advised by Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing for EUR 516 million, making the transaction the largest single asset transaction in Finland ever. The first part of the center was built in 1984, and it has been extended and rede- veloped several times. Wereldhave acquired the shopping center in 2002 from Sponda for EUR 317 million. At that time, the transac- tion was one of the first major acquisitions of the foreign investor in Finland. With this transaction, Wereldhave now exits the Finnish property market, cit- ing desire to realize its strategic agenda by focusing on “convenience centers”. Accord- ing to Wereldhave strategy, this means zero- ing in on shopping centers that “strike a bal- ance between convenience and shopping experience”. l Sami J. Anteroinen Nordicum 31