Property development at Stockholm City West

The already built terminal—WTC complex (Figure 7.3) contains 45 000 m2 of office space, hotels, restaurants and shops. Together, it is a place of work for 2000 people. In addition, it is a terminal for local, airport, and long-distance buses. The complex occupies an area of 1.5 ha, providing a total of 60 000 m2 of space. The total cost of the complex has been estimated at around SKr 1400 million. The key figures are summarized in Table 7.2. The office complex is organized according to the World Trade Centre concept. It provides offices for rent (for a total of 1500 workers; short-term leases are also possible) and 300 parking spaces. On the fourth floor, there are a number of ancillary facilities. These include a conference complex, containing an auditorium with seating for up to 180 persons and meeting rooms for 8-50 people. An exhibition hall of 850 m2 and a World Trade Centre Club complete the list. Elsewhere in the building there is a 160-room hotel (with a 'budget-business' formula), a restaurant with

Table 7.2 Property development in Stockholm City West: main structural data

Surface area

Area ownership

Total floor area

Offices (World Trade Centre)

Congress and hotel centre

Housing, shops and offices

Parking

Cost

40 ha

Swedish railways (mostly) 220 000 m2

45 000 m2 net (developed)

60 000 m2 (planned)

100 000 m2 (proposed)

975 places (plus 650 in a 300 m radius)

SKr 4.5 billion (1986 estimate, total);

SKr 1.4 billion (actual, terminal/WTC, 100% private)

banquet room, a cafeteria, and body-care facilities. Administration and management are centralized, and access to the building is restricted.

The management of the World Trade Centre had no problem in finding tenants in the booming markets of the late 1980s. It came on the market at the right moment, just before the crash. The offices have been occupied by the same sort of firms that can be found elsewhere in the central business district; the rents are comparable, too. Since then a lot has changed, however. The Stockholm property market has undergone a deep depression. The World Trade Centre, however, performed better than other properties. Essentially, this appears to be due to its unique combination of high accessibility (by all modes: road, rail, and indirectly air) and high general standards. However, many believe that further expansion of the office content requires a different approach today. There are no prospects for an office-only formula, whatever the quality. A more specific and exceptional attractor is needed. Consequently, after a brainstorming session, which involved several central actors of the city, the idea of an international congress centre gained support (Figure 7.6). In a space of around 60 000 m2, the centre would cater for up to 4000 visitors. It would be equipped with the latest telecommunication technologies, and it would be connected to facilities such as hotels and shops ('shopping on the ground floors will make the streets lively'). The area will offer 'the best possible opportunities for establishing national and international organizations in the fields of commerce, science, culture and politics' (Stockholm City West brochure).

Given the unique nature of the development, no competition from other locations in the metropolitan area is expected. Some congress facilities are being developed around the airport of Arlanda, though on a much more limited scale. Rather, the existing peripheral congress and exhibition centre at Alvsjo might suffer from the development of Stockholm City West. Central properties are in fact already performing better than peripheral motorway ones (such as along the E4 corridor, for example). However, some worries persist: integration with the immediate surroundings, and local traffic issues.

Finally, thought is being given to the following stages (for a total of 100 000 m2), which are still in the hypothetical stage. It is possible that houses will be built over the tracks, perhaps mixed with some commercial functions, but the idea of locating a shopping centre at the station is not being taken seriously. Competition with the existing shopping area of Norrmalm, which is presently undergoing a facelift, has to be avoided. On the other hand, the poor pedestrian links with that same central shopping district (as described in section 7.3.2) would impose a major constraint on the success of such a development.

In discussing the development strategy of Stockholm City West, it is crucial to consider the transport facilities and the new bus terminal (about 500 buses and 20 000 passengers a day). The main concept of the interchange is that the length of time for which passengers are neither inside a bus nor in the terminal building should be as short as possible. As at an airport, they board buses directly from gates a few minutes before departure. The scheduled departure and arrival times are displayed on electronic boards and monitors inside the hall, along with other travel information. This hall is a pleasant, ample and light space covered by a glass vault. It boasts a variety of small shops and a cafe, alongside some other services. The main hall is connected by corridors, both above and below street level, to taxi stands and the train and underground stations. Additionally, while the terminal-WTC complex was being developed, the central railway station underwent thorough renewal. It now extends its high level of comfort and functionality to the whole transportation interchange. Without a doubt, the remodelling has been crucial to the success of the development.

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