The place

The station lies next to the Norrmalm district (Figure 7.3). This is the business and shopping core of the Swedish capital and of the surrounding city region. It was extensively redeveloped in the 1950s and 1960s. In Stockholm's draft structure plan of 1996, the station area is indicated as a 'strategic area for urban multipurpose redevelopment', the only one in the whole inner city. Furthermore, a comprehensive rehabilitation of the adjacent central business district (CBD)

Fig. 7.2 Stockholm Central in the urban-regional public transportation networks. (Source: SL. Map: Panorama Press AB Stockholm)

is also planned. In the rest of the inner city, the existing amenities will be 'enhanced and maintained'. The station will be developed into 'an entrance and portal to central Stockholm, a meeting point and a travel centre' (SJ and Stockholms Stad, 1997, p. 4). It should be noted, however, that while the CBD is within walking distance of the station, actual pedestrian connections are not always good, as traffic arteries and dead ends impede a free flow. Additionally, on the south and west sides of the area, the motorway bypass blocks access to the waterfront. There is little scope for change in this situation in the near future. The accessibility of the area could thus remain essentially dependent upon the transportation networks. As a

Fig. 7.3 Stockholm Central and its surroundings. The station is at the top centre of the picture, the terminal—WTC complex is below, the Norrmalm district to the left. (Source: Stockholms Stad, SJ. Photo: Staffan Tragardh)

consequence, it is unlikely that the central activity areas (such as shopping) will expand towards the station and link up directly with developments there.

7.3.3 The process

Stockholm City West is a development that is taking place in stages. The first completed phase was the Vasa Terminal—World Trade Centre. This building complex contains a bus terminal and offices. It was erected next to the station on land obtained by covering over the rail tracks. The second phase, an international congress and hotel centre, is currently under discussion. In the third phase, housing, shops and offices should set the tone. All is to be built by further bridging over the tracks.

The first phase: the Vasa Terminal—WTC, 1979—1989

The project was triggered by the need for a bus terminal next to Stockholm Central station. Various proposals for building it on a deck spanning the tracks had been examined many times. Each time, the idea was set aside because no one was prepared to pay for it. Interest was reawakened at the end of the 1970s. The new concept was to build offices above the bus terminal so that the land values generated could finance construction. A first appraisal showed that the plan was feasible. On that basis, the Swedish railways (SJ) agreed to explore the possibility jointly with the City of Stockholm. A cooperation agreement between the two was signed. Once a programme was defined, the city-railways partnership organized a land-use competition. The winner would be awarded an option on site leasehold for commercial development. The aim of the competition was to get imaginative ideas for a plan, a design, its architecture, and its engineering. At the same time, the proposal should be financially realistic and economically viable. The competition was held between the autumn of 1982 and spring of 1983. Consortia of aspiring developers, contractors, and multidisciplinary teams of experts were formed to participate. The programme they had to interpret contained:

• a bus terminal for the buses to Stockholm Arlanda international airport, SJ's coach services, and buses to the Gotland ferries in Nynashamn;

• construction of a new viaduct (Kungsgatan) crossing the tracks, and enlargement of an existing one (Klarabergsgatan);

• a deck for taxis and short-term parking.

Participants were also asked to provide information on how much rent they were willing to pay for the leasehold of the office block.

After an initial examination of the competition entries, the jury—led by the director of SJ and the city housing and town planning chief officer—designated Vasaterminalen (a consortium of Fastighets AB Hufvudstaden, L.E.Lundbergforetagen AB, and SIAB AB) as the preliminary winner. Confirmation of the award would take place only after negotiations had been held and agreements had been reached on the leasehold and tenders. A financial review had been provided with the competition documents, but it was only 'morally binding', as many details still had to be worked out. In the first half of 1984 Vasaterminalen undertook preliminary design work at their own risk. Meanwhile, negotiations on and detailing of the planning framework also took place. Only then could the actual 'first prize' be finalized. This entailed acquisition of the leasehold rights to the site on which the office blocks were to be built. Thereafter, construction could begin, against payment, of the bus terminal, the street viaducts, and the other public facilities. The negotiations were complex. The parties involved (SJ, the City of Stockholm, and the Vasaterminalen consortium) had to deal with multiple issues that required detailed and extensive agreements. For example:

• The project was technically complicated. It had to be constructed above the tracks without serious disruption of rail traffic.

• The project was administratively complicated. Apart from the partners and the developers themselves, the national government was also directly involved through a subsidy to the city.

• The project was financially complicated. The programme was conspicuous, while neither SJ nor the City of Stockholm had the liquidity to pour into the project. Furthermore, as landowner, SJ was looking for an acceptable return on its property. The deal also had to be financially acceptable to the developers' consortium.

Fig. 7.4 Vasaterminalen: the network of contracts. (Source: P.H.Westin)

In the late summer of 1984, after six months of negotiations, the partners signed a package of contracts containing eight intermeshed agreements. The substance of the package is schematically depicted in Figure 7.4.

Basically, a new property was being created on part of the railyards of Stockholm Central station. The land would remain the property of SJ, and would be rented out on a leasehold basis to Vasaterminalen AB. The first 25 years would be rent-free for the developers. In exchange, at their own expense, they would build the bus terminal and the other public facilities. The City of Stockholm would pass the government subsidy onto SJ in exchange for the transfer of the new streets and public spaces from SJ to the city. Terminal facilities would be leased free of charge for 20 years to an ad hoc 'terminal company', which would be a joint venture of SJ, the city, and the regional transportation authority SL. The railway area beneath the terminal would be used exclusively by SJ. In short, the revenues acquired in connection with the new building rights—that is, the 20-year yield on the land generated from 45 000 m2 of new city offices—would finance the public facilities.

In June 1985, after the agreements had been signed and the detailed development plan had been adopted by the council, construction could begin. After four years of construction work, the complex was opened in 1989-1990. The central location, and the booming property market and economy, meant that finding tenants was not much of a problem.

The second phase: a congress centre, 1994-2004

The success of the Vasa Terminal concept prompted interest in the possibility of further covering of the tracks. In May 1986, the city and the railways jointly presented a development concept for the whole area for public consultation (Figure 7.5). A hotel complex (35 000 m2) and a congress centre (25 000 m2) were proposed next to the WTC, and developments, consisting mainly of offices (a total of an additional 125 000 m2), on adjoining sites. The total cost was estimated at around SKr 4.5 billion (SKr 2.2 billion for the sections under construction, and SKr 2.3 billion for those proposed). Soon afterwards, the railways and the city signed cooperation agreements on future development. Some preparatory work (foundations, for example) was done in combination with construction on the Vasa Terminal—WTC. It was expected that the whole site could be fully built up by 1994. However, these high hopes were dashed by the economic recession and the ensuing slump in property prices. Thus little of this programme has been implemented. Only some of the offices above the motorway (seen at the left in Figure 7.5) have been built. Next to these premises some houses also appeared, though the plan originally called for offices. They were made possible by an amendment to the original plan, a change that was essentially politically motivated. An interesting outcome is that, once completed, there was no problem in finding tenants for the dwellings, while the offices remained empty for a long period, thanks to the sudden downturn in the market.

The entire planning and development process thus came to a halt at the beginning of the 1990s. All related actions were postponed indefinitely. The same thing was happening everywhere in the metropolitan area. Only in 1994, in a slowly improving property market, was interest revived in the project, which had been renamed Stockholm City West. The approach had changed, however, as management of uncertainty had become a major concern. While the plan was still seen from a wider perspective, attention was turned to the parcel of land next to the already developed terminal—WTC. The rest was considered as mere 'future hypotheses'. Once again, the initiative was promoted jointly by SJ and the city. Their relationship was as good as ever. Per-Hakan Westin, the City of Stockholm's project manager in the Vasa Terminal project, had become director of the real estate division of the Swedish railways. A city-wide brainstorming session was held to confirm and redefine the content of the next

Fig. 7.5 The concept plan of 1986. (Source: Stockholms Stad, SJ. Drawing: Christer Hagman)

development stage. Prominent representatives of the business, political, cultural, scientific and media communities were engaged in an informal consultation exercise. In the end, it was decided to go ahead with the idea of a congress centre. It was conceived as an international facility, with a range of services (such as advanced telecommunications and hotels) and a capacity (up to 4000 visitors) that was unmatched in the city until now. The initiative would have been given a boost if Stockholm were to have won the competition to host the Olympics in 2004. In that event the congress centre would have been launched as a media centre. In September 1997 a further brainstorming session was to be held with organizations and individuals active in the field of conferences. Discussions are currently (1997) being held with the Stockholm conference committee. They are worried about competition with the existing congress and exhibition centre, which is peripherally located. Hotel companies have also been contacted; some of the firms interviewed could possibly become partners in the development (Figure 7.6).

No public consultations have taken place so far, but they will after some decisions have been made. Little opposition has emerged, simply because 'there are no neighbours'. The interviewed participants believed this could change in the future. For instance, opposition might arise if the project gets involved in the impending discussion about building new rail and road infrastructure to the south across the lake. Alternatively, objections might be raised if it goes further north along the water, 'taking away the view' from adjacent property. Reaching the greatest degree of consensus is seen as a high priority. Both market actors and the local population appear cautious. They are only slowly recovering from the property crash and some unhappy public-private deals of the 1980s. Meanwhile, the project has been presented to the building board of the city for review. Building features have been discussed, and work on a

Fig. 7.6 Completed and planned components of Stockholm City West: in the centre the built terminal-WTC complex, on the right of it the congress and hotel centre under development, above and under it future developments. (Source: Stockholms Stad, SJ. Photo and drawing: Boris Culjat/HJS Arkitektkontor AB)

Fig. 7.6 Completed and planned components of Stockholm City West: in the centre the built terminal-WTC complex, on the right of it the congress and hotel centre under development, above and under it future developments. (Source: Stockholms Stad, SJ. Photo and drawing: Boris Culjat/HJS Arkitektkontor AB)

detailed plan has started. This is taking place in close collaboration between the planning and real estate departments of the city. At a later stage the appointed developer will be drawn in. In March 1997, three multidisciplinary consultant groups (selected from an initial round involving 22 Swedish and foreign groups) were asked to subject their suggestions for the congress and hotel centre to detailed feasibility studies. In the invitation they received to submit a more detailed plan, they were told that integration with the existing city and local traffic plans was an area of major concern. They were also asked for an implementation method that would not disrupt existing rail traffic. In the same period, the plan was presented at the MIPIM real estate exhibition in Cannes. In June, the three consultants presented their plans; if shown to be feasible, development will take place in the form of a leasehold, or the land could be sold.

It has not yet been decided whether the same partnership model (a competition to identify an architectural plan and a developer-partner) will be applied as was used for the terminal— WTC. Market conditions are totally different from what they were in the 1980s. The private sector is no longer in any rush to compete. More preparation time is needed. After approval by the building board, the search for financing will start. The congress and hotel centre would have to cover its own costs; no public investment is envisaged there. However, things could change if some clear benefit to the city is shown—for instance, in the area of tourism (an increasingly important economic sector). The parties are confident that they will be able to interest private investors in the project, and that they can open its doors in 2004.

Table 7.1 summarizes the main phases of the project.

Table 7.1 Stockholm City West: summary of the main phases

Phase 1: planning and implementation of terminal-WTC, planning of whole station area. 1979-1989

End 1970s

End 1982/beginning 1983 1984

June 1985 Mid-1986 1989/1990

Idea: (airport) bus terminal plus offices above the tracks; cooperation agreement between the City of Stockholm and the Swedish railways; feasibility studies; definition of the programme

Development competition: negotiations with the winning consortium

Elaboration of the development plans and the land-use plans (detaljplan)

Start construction

Public consultations on the area plan Opening of terminal-WTC complex

Phase 2: planning and implementation of congress centre, 1994-2004

Beginning of 1990s


1996-1997 2004

Planning and development process of the station area is interrupted because of the property market crash

Planning and development process of the station area starts again: advice rounds

Elaboration of the land-use plan; feasibility studies Opening?

Phase 3: planning and implementation of following stages Still unknown

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