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  • Location as a status factor – Kaartinkaupunki elevates businesses to first class

Location as a status factor – Kaartinkaupunki elevates businesses to first class

Kaartinkaupunki, in the southern part of Helsinki’s central city area, offers companies Finland’s most valuable business environment as well as the best lunch and after-work services in the country. It is no wonder that there is not enough room for all companies interested in the area.

The historical centre of Helsinki, Kaartinkaupunki, is a perplexing mixture of dignified business world and lively tourist life. The small neighbourhood – only 0.33 km2 – between Esplanade Park and Tähtitorninmäki is full of historic buildings, popular tourist attractions and high-quality restaurants.

Above all, there are commercial premises there. The number of people living in Kaartinkaupunki is a little over 1,000, but nearly 13,000 people work in the office and business premises in the area.

The vacancy rate in Kaartinkaupunki and other surrounding areas of the city centre is as low as 3.5%, compared to 11.9% for the whole city of Helsinki.

“From the perspective of businesses, Kaartinkaupunki is a very interesting area. It shows in the number of business premises and their low vacancy rate. The vacancy rate in Kaartinkaupunki and other surrounding areas of the city centre is as low as 3.5%, compared to 11.9% for the whole city of Helsinki”, says Hanna Pikkarainen, architect and team leader in the Central City Planning Unit.     

Kaartinkaupunki is known as a prestigious cultural and historical area. It comprises the area between Pohjoisesplanadi and Tähtitorninmäki. It is only a couple of blocks away from Helsinki Central Railway Station.

Rich urban structure and major agglomeration benefits

According to Pikkarainen, the area is attractive thanks to its rich urban structure and customer base, as well as agglomeration benefits, which are generated when companies that benefit from one another are located nearby.

“The prestigious architecture and ready urban structure make the area stand out from new office centres. Companies clearly see them as status factors too”, Pikkarainen says.

In Kaartinkaupunki, life follows closely the pulse of the city centre. People gather together in Esplanade Park and Market Square on weekdays and on holidays. Image: Helsinki Marketing

Ilkka Tani, key account manager from Sponda, which owns several premium properties in the area, also has a clear view of what factors attract companies to Kaartinkaupunki.    

“Great lunch, catering, after-work and meeting services, unique business premises, as well as good transport connections”, Tani summarises.

The area offers companies and tourists the best restaurant and hotel services in Finland. Restaurant Savoy, which was Marshal Mannerheim’s favourite place, as well as Palace Restaurant, selected as the best restaurant of 2020, are to be found in Kaartinkaupunki. Image: Savoy

According to Tani, Kaartinkaupunki attracts expert companies, such as law firms and architect agencies, business management consultancy firms and advertising agencies, in particular. In addition, there are numerous embassies of different countries in the area.  

The best services in Finland   

The Empire-style neighbourhood is named after the Guards’ Barracks built in 1822 next to Kasarmitori square.

Originally, the area to the south of Esplanade was zoned for wooden houses for merchants and craftsmen. However, back in the 1820s, numerous stone buildings, such as Kaartin kortteli and Smolna, were built in the area. Image: Rosenbröijer A.E / Helsinki City Museum

“The area has remained intact and unique, even though they have built some new buildings here and there between the historical buildings. The challenge is that there are hardly any possibilities to build new buildings in the area, even though there is demand for it”, says Pikkarainen. 

The challenge is that there are hardly any possibilities to build new buildings in the area, even though there is demand for it.

The most significant historic buildings in the area include Smolna, the Government Banquet Hall, Agronomitalo beside Kasarmitori, as well as the Design Museum, which was built in 1894.

The cultural and historical Kaartinkaupunki has become the hottest business hub of the city centre. The area has 1,000 residents, but close to 13,000 jobs. The area is bordered by Erottajankatu in the west.

Even though the venue is historical, the atmosphere is relaxed and international. It is guaranteed by the popular tourist attractions nearby, such as Suomenlinna, Market Square, Esplanade Park and the Allas Sea Pool by the sea. 

In addition, Finland’s best restaurants and hotels, as well as the high-quality shopping opportunities in the adjacent Kluuvi district, attract tourists to Kaartinkaupunki.     

The unique architecture of the old office buildings and the high-quality services in the area attract law firms and architect agencies, consultancy firms and advertising agencies, in particular, to the area.

“Tourist attractions and the high-quality conference and event services that they offer provide splendid synergy benefits for companies, too”, says Ilkka Tani from Sponda.

Better parking spaces than in the centre of the city

According to Tani, companies that come to the area usually appreciate good routes for cars and bikes in addition to public transport.

“It is easier to drive to Kaartinkaupunki than to the city centre. In addition, there are more parking spaces here. For cyclists, there are great, straight coastal routes.” 

There are plenty of excellent hotels in the area, which is easy to reach. Hotel Lilla Roberts, located in the middle of Kaartinkaupunki’s trendy design quarter, is known for its art deco interior dating back to the 1930s. Image: Hotel Lilla Roberts

There is a continuous effort to develop the historical buildings in the area and make them meet the needs of modern tenants better and better.

According to Tani, there is a continuous effort to develop the historical buildings in the area and make them meet the needs of modern tenants better and better.

They are adding charging points for electric vehicles, parking spaces for bicycles, as well as staff facilities to the buildings while respecting their architecture. Sponda recently renovated its premium properties’ lobbies, too.

More strongly a part of the city centre

According to Pikkarainen, Kaartinkaupunki will be a more integrated part of the city centre in future.

“The renovations in the surroundings of the Market Square and the South Harbour will make the area even more attractive and change the focus of the city centre. For example, the new architecture and design museum to be built on Eteläranta will be a major factor. There are also several rezoning plans aiming to make Kasarmitori livelier. In addition, the look and functionality of the Market Square will be improved in connection with rezoning.”

There are plans to make the shore areas a more integral part of the centre to develop the South Harbour. The plan is to create new maritime city space with promenades and attractive functions. Image: A vision of the Helsinki Biennial pavilion in 2021. Image: Verstas Architects Ltd / Helsinki Marketing

With the museum project, the city is taking a step towards the shore. There are plans to build a new seaside route next to the museum with a junction to the South Harbour bay. It would also provide a better route from Kaartinkaupunki to the sea.

The objective of urban design is to strengthen the position of Kaartinkaupunki as the most active and attractive business centre in Helsinki.  

The Allas Sea Pool by the sea has made the Market Square area more attractive. The planned architecture and design museum, as well as other development projects, will move the focus of the city centre more strongly towards Kaartinkaupunki. Image: Juha Kalaoja / Helsinki Marketing

“People’s needs change over time, and we do not want to carve our plans in stone. The objective is that business premises could be flexibly transformed, if necessary. It is already now possible to flexibly use the historical buildings in the area, with their high ceilings and large rooms, for various purposes”, says Pikkarainen

Sources: Catella Market Indicator 2020, Helsinki by District, Tikkanen / Helsingin Tietokeskus

The updating Unioninkortteli is the gateway to Kaartinkaupunki 

Unioninkatu 20–22, which lies next to the Market Square and Esplanade, is a city block full of possibilities for companies to develop their own premises.

The real estate asset management company Sponda is investigating how to update the office premises at Unioninkatu 20–22. It would make it possible for companies to put their own stamp on their premises in the popular Kaartinkaupunki.

This property of more than 26,000 m2 has room for small businesses looking for 20 m2 studios, as well as for large enterprises looking for 6,000 m2 for their headquarters.

In addition to Unioninkatu, there are entrances to the property at Unioninkatu 20–22 on Fabianinkatu and Pohjoinen Makasiinikatu. The Unioninkatu entrance was renovated in 2020.

“Even though it isn’t easy to find available premises in Kaartinkaupunki, as a major real estate owner in the area, we can offer our customers room to grow inside the premises and in the area. The best chance to find new premises is during renovations”, says Ilkka Tani, key account manager from Sponda. 

Easy access to services at Bank and MOW

The tenants at Unioninkatu have the opportunity to take advantage of the new facilities and services of Tapahtumatalo Bank. Bank provides restaurant and café services and boasts of Finland’s most varied lunch offering. In addition, there are fantastic conference and event facilities there. Bank also organises contemporary corporate events.

According to Ilkka Tani, key account manager from Sponda, companies in the area seldom want to leave it, so the tenants rarely change.

Tenants can also use Sponda’s inspiring coworking spaces at MOW Mothership in Kaartinkaupunki.

In addition to the modernisation of the property at Unioninkatu, Sponda is exploring possibilities to develop the Unioninkatu quarter. This way, new tenants could have a say in the external facilities and range of services, in addition to their own premises.  

Are you interested in Unioninkatu and its opportunities? Contact us >>

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