Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2019 - Page 32

P Back on Track AINOA leads the commercial comeback in Tapiola With the launch of Western metro line in November 2017, the Garden District of Tapiola ushered in a new age. The classic commercial center finally received the shot in the arm it had been longing for. Since the arrival of the metro, about 30,000 passengers are using the Tapiola station every day – and the outlook for Tapiola appears very good indeed. O ne of the key players in the area is LocalTapiola which has been mak- ing strategic investments in the area for a long time now. “The crown jewel” in LocalTapiola’s plans is the new shopping center AINOA, owned by Tapiola KR III Real Estate Fund. Having opened its doors in October 2013, the shopping center opened its second expansion in March 2017, and now features 30,000 square metres and 50 stores. How- ever, the undertaking is still not finished: “We’re on track to complete Phase III of the project by October 2019,” says Kim Särs, CEO of LocalTapiola Real Estate C ­ apital Funds. With the “trilogy” all wrapped up, the shopping center will fea- ture 50,000 square metres and 120 stores. “Once the third phase is completed, you really get to experience AINOA in its 32 Nordicum entirety, the way it was meant to be,” Särs believes. Monster Sales Särs is optimistic about the “end-product” since the customers have already found their way to the shopping center. In 2018, AINOA has increased its sales 40 % in contrast to the previous year, while the industry growth rate is much more modest at 2 %. In addi- tion, for the first half of 2018, the number of visitors is up 35%. It is clear to see that as Tapiola is mounting a strong commercial comeback, AINOA is the biggest draw for the entire neighborhood. “Looking at the key figures from 2017, AINOA sales were €113,6 million and there were five million visitors to the center. For 2019, we estimate that the sales will reach €145 million and the number of visitors will hit eight million,” says Särs, adding that even that won’t give you the whole picture of AINOA’s potential. “Actually, it is the year 2020 when we’re finally firing on all cylinders.” Hit the Sweet Spot Vesa Immonen, Managing Director of LocalTapiola Real Estate Asset Manage- ment, says that AINOA’s strong perfor- mance is no wonder given the fact that it is located in the national “sweet spot” where the purchasing power of the citizens is bet- ter than anywhere else in Finland. “Local customers insist on great ser- vice, and AINOA has responded to this by constantly raising the bar.” For example, AINOA has launched – together with Stock-