HS: The general plan is an obstacle to converting offices into apartments in the center of Helsinki

Converting the into apartments would therefore require the city to create a corresponding amount of business space elsewhere in the center.

“We want to preserve the downtown area. If one property owner is given the opportunity to convert the Business Space into residential use, the next property owner will soon demand it as well,” he explained on 17.1.

Manninen added that the changes also have the of changing the nature of downtown .

However, the reality has changed. Remote became significantly more common during the pandemic, and not all employers are expected to need as much office space as before the pandemic. Manninen saw that the housing construction in the city center should be examined in connection with the preparation of the master plan.

“We take these proposals seriously in the sense that we think they should be viewed with an open mind. The center is not unchanged.”

“On the other hand, there is not too much evidence that there is no demand for downtown business premises, even though has increased. Rents in the center have remained high. There are empty office spaces around the center, he commented.

Helsingin Sanomat reminded that the number of empty business premises in the city center has increased in October-November from the pre-pandemic level to approximately 15.5 percent. The number of people moving in the area has correspondingly decreased significantly from the pre-pandemic level, mobile phone data suggests.

Experts have estimated that the injection of residents could help in revitalizing the city center by creating demand for services.

– Residents bring demand for services. That’s why we’re trying to get even more out of the center,” Manninen stated and pointed to the increase in residential subdivision in the areas near the center, such as Jätkäsaari and .

Ville LehmuskoskiThe City of Helsinki’s urban environment manager told Helsingin Sanomat that the problem will not be solved by one building, i.e. around 100 new residents.

“Although it would naturally renew the vitality of the city center to some extent, improving the vitality we are aiming for requires many times more effective measures,” he said.

For example, the city of Helsinki is investigating the possibility and financial viability of building roofs over certain spaces intended for pedestrians, such as Aleksanterinkatu and . Such development projects are discussed in cooperation with specifically to increase the vitality of the city center.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Source: The Nordic Page

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