How do the governmental and municipal authorities in Finland manage to cooperate so well together ? This is the type of thing that Dan Mollgren, Architect at the City of Helsinki has frequently heard at international real estate events. First of all, he considers cooperation to be absolutely necessary, and besides, Helsinki has all the prerequisites and knowhow for this.
Central Pasila is a good example of this. An area that used to be a railway yard owned by the government will turn into a nationally significant new concentration of activities in Helsinki. In terms of transport, Pasila station is a hub where all trains to and from Helsinki stop. In addition, construction of the international-standard train terminal will be completed in 2019.
“The joint project of the government and the city will create a tremendous concentration of jobs and housing, a new piece of the centre of Helsinki,” says Mollgren, who has been involved in the development of Central Pasila for seven years.
According to him the people involved in corresponding projects around the world wish cooperation was this smooth elsewhere. In many projects, schedules are often delayed when challenges are faced in development planning, plot reservation and political decision-making.
Over one hundred thousand floor square metres
Minna Aarnio, Property Development Manager at Senate, praises the fluency of development planning at the City of Helsinki.
One of the cooperation’s latest achievements is Ratapiha, the railway yard block area, which extends hundreds of metres to the north from the railway station, i.e. from the Tripla shopping mall towards Hakamäentie. The detail plan of the railway yard block area entered into effect in the summer of 2017.
According to Aarnio, reservations, agreements and plot sales have already been made, and Senate will introduce new plots for sale in the near future. The area to be built at Ratapiha is well over one hundred thousand floor square metres.
A distinctive area will be built on top of the former railway yard, which in addition to the versatile buildings will include promenades, varying terrain, green roofs and terraces. The second stage of the Helsinki High-Rise architectural competition, jointly organised by Senate and the City, is also ongoing. The high-rise buildings will be built in the neighbouring area on the south side of Pasilansilta.
“It is quite obvious that people want to come to Pasila. Many organisations are planning to transfer their headquarters to Central Pasila,” Aarnio says.
“Pasila is considered an interesting, safe and credible investment.”
A happy marriage
Both Aarnio from Senate and Mollgren from the City of Helsinki are happy with the flexibility of the cooperation between the government and the City. Decisions and results are needed in a constantly changing environment.
“If I had to describe the cooperation between Senate and the City of Helsinki, then I’d say we were happily married. We have ambitious goals. We put a lot of time and effort into reaching them, and we also support each other. Both of us have made progress with our procedures and how we conclude agreements,” Aarnio says.
According to Aarnio, dynamic cooperation is a true win-win situation. In order for the government and the City to be successful, the various projects also have to be successful.
The projects have to be interesting, good and profitable in order for someone to want to carry them out.
A marathon rather than a sprint
Since it will take years to construct Central Pasila and the project is exceptional on the Finnish scale, Senate will continue the planning and construction work together with the City even after the plot has been handed over. It wants to be available in Pasila to support plot buyers, because it may prove challenging to find parties to cooperate with at various stages of the project. Parking areas, staff facilities and transport connections, for example, are needed for construction sites.
In addition, representatives of the City, new plot owners in Pasila and Senate will sit down together on a regular basis as joint working groups. The working groups will consider and resolve practical matters even before they turn into problems.
For example, creating a cycle path through a busy and narrow area like Pasila is no small task. The working group will work together to consider how to notify and provide guidance to people about the route. When residents are able to clearly follow what is going on at different stages of the construction work, this will avoid chaos and irritation.
According to Aarnio, builders of the future will need to be broad minded and also have a desire to develop and perseverance.
“You need to know how to pace yourself. This is not the 400 metres hurdles – it is more like an ultra run.”