In Brief

Short opinion pieces on events and developments

Centre for Urban Studies webinar ‘Negotiating between Urban Planners, Developers, and Investors’

Looking back reading the Centre for Urban Studies blog reporting on a high quality webinar ‘Negotiating between Urban Planners, Developers, and Investors’ organised by the Centre of Urban Studies of the University of Amsterdam which took place in December 2020. Good discussion about the perceptions and interactions between urban planners and real estate investors & developers. Lot of room for synergy between the two. Was delighted to be in the panel. Link to the blog.

Amsterdam Zuidas

New residential developments at Amsterdam Zuidas

Real Asset Media UK and Europe Outlook Panel, January 2021

Was part of a great panel debate earlier today. Exchanging views in the Real Asset Media Global Outlook series on the 2021 market trends and outlook for the UK and Europe. The large cities will continue to be attractive also post Covid. Those investors who are able to adapt their properties to the post-Covid context in line with health, space and hygienic requirements will have a good tarting position to enter the post-Covid era. Click here to watch the panel by video.

Panel Debate Global Outlook 2021: Uk & Europe, by Real Asset Media

Relaunch ERG European Research Group within ECSP European Council Shopping Places

Very happy with the relaunch of the ERG European Research group in the framework of ECSP European Council Shopping Places. Sharing ideas and knowledge is even more essential in these of retail transformation than it already used to be. Delighted to see around 30 researchers and content affiliated professionals of a great variety of retail led real estate companies coming together and join forces. The ERG was established as ICSC Europe Working Group by Christopher Wicker and Yvonne Court in 2001. Supported by ICSC Europe, this corporate hats off research community has flourished ever since. With ICSC finishing its European Operations by the end of 2019, the ERG found a new home at the newly established ECSP European Council Shopping Places.

ECSP ERG research priorities for the coming period will be:

  • new business and leasing models
  • post-Covid-19 retailing: new retail formats, mixed-use concepts, and repurposing

We concluded 2020 with our re-launch meeting. Honoured we had Brenna ‘O Roarty (RHL Strategic Solutions), very experienced in the field of retail business models and involved in previous ICSC and INREV research projects on this matter, as key note speaker sharing her views on the ned for new and business and leasing in an excellent ‘set the scene presentation’.

An important priority for the ERG and the ECSP will be to rejuvenate the group by reaching out to talented professionals in the European retail property research scene to join the European Research Group.

Proud to be involved in this network of professionals.


MARK Internal Knowledge Session – 2020 Q3 Market Update

One of the nice to do’s. Internal knowledge session by ZOOM with MARK Capitals Management’s Asset Management Team. This time myself speaking, by presenting the 2020 q3 market update for the European markets in which MARK is active. Trends and outlook for the economy, consumption and retail sales, and a wide set of indicators of the real estate market. Enjoyable discussion with the team current context and the various scenario’s to recovery.

UvA Master Graduation 2020

Virtual online master student graduation at the University of Amsterdam in 2020. Proud on Justin Van Der Ven and Patrick Moat who defended their master theses successfully last June. Exciting to be involved as supervisor in these two relevant and motivating projects:

  • Redeveloping Tomorrows Cities by Patrick Moat: a comparative analysis of the repositioning and redevelopment of Bijlmermeer in Amsterdam and Park Hill Sheffield, two examples of brutalist housing developments fro the 1960s – 1970s.
  • How Shifting Actor Landscapes Influence Mixed-Use in Inner-City Brownfield Redevelopment Projects by Justin Van der Ven: a comparative case study regarding the planning of Amsterdam’s Eastern Docklands

Proud on the results and the master theses, and happy to have worked with these talented guys. The Covid-19 crisis and the subsequent Lockdown measures did not keep them from doing a good research leading to relevant results. Chapeau! 


Back to the university…

Back to the university? Not really in 2020. Almost tradition is going back to the university for a guest lecture and debate with students each year. This year, a guest lecture ‘Actors in the Real Estate and their Role in Urban Planning’ in the Introduction to Urban Planning Program of the University of Amsterdam. Delivered the lecture via video-conferencing with less interaction than usual. Hope students are able to motivate themselves and do not miss out too much in these strange Covid-19 ‘distance’ days.

When the rain showers took a break…

View over Nieuwe Meer

Some time to row and explore a bit of Nieuwe Meer.

Always great to be in the water, even on a grey December day just before Christmas.

Unbelievable, such a nature right next to the city.

Back to the lecture room

Guest lecture International Real Estate Markets at University of Groningen

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University of Groningen – Zernike Science ParkBack to the lecture room at University of Groningen where I graduated in Geography in 1993. This time for a guest lecture ‘Retail and urban mixed-use property investment landscapes’ part of the ‘International Real Estate Markets’ lecture series in the Master program Real Estate of Faculty of Spatial Sciences. Was good to be back in Groningen and to discuss aspects of the property cycle, trends affecting the real state landscape, as well as various ongoing disruptions and their impact on property with a motivated group of master students. Good to see that new talent is on its way to the profession.

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Former V&D department store building on Grote Markt being transformed for a new future by developer MWPO

And taking advantage to have a quick look in the city centre of Groningen where lot of changes are taking place. Following the bankruptcy of V&D in 2016, the building of the department store on Grote Markt is undergoing a full transformation into Groot Handelshuis, an innercity meeting and working space. A new Jumbo City Market with F&B next to convenience on the ground floor and a La Place restaurant on the fourth floor will act as drivers of the meeting place. The second V&D building on Rode Weeshuistraat behind the main building is being redeveloped into an innercity residential complex with apartments.

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Merckt under construction at the corner Grote Markt – Poelestraat

On the other side of Grote Markt, Merckt, a development by Mensenborgh Projectontwikkeling, is under construction on the corner with Poelestraat. This will be Groningen’s first food hall, expected to open in a few months, with a rooftop bar on the top floor, with residential on the floors in between. The run down Naberpassage gave way to the newly built Forum Groningen. A new innercity urban culture and leisure centre with library and cinema among other services, as well as a Groningen information shop on the ground floor. Ne cafes and restaurants have been built in the zone around Forum. With Merck still under construction, Forum Groningen is still somewhat isolated from Grote Markt but that will change. Funding came partly from compensation funds granted to Groningen Province following the cancellation of the planned Zuiderzeelijn high speed train line to connect Groningen to Amsterdam.

View through Peperstraat, core of Groningen’s night life area, with newly built Forum Groningen culture and leisure centre as a rock in the back.

Book presentation ‘Dream City’ by Conrad Kickert

Creation, destruction and reinvention. In short a summary of the urban history of Detroit presented by Conrad Kickert (University of Cincinnati) at Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam Friday December the 13th to mark the release of his book ‘Dream City’, published by The MIT Press. (text continues below image)

Dream City analyses 200 years of urban history in which Detroit went through several cycles in which the city reached the absolute top but also the absolute bottom. While Detroit was the fastest and one of the wealthiest cities in the US in the first decades of the 20th Century because of its successful car manufacturing. Relatively high salaries in the factories attracted massive flows of migrants to the city. After the second world war, decline set in and the city raced to the bottom because of heavy segregation, unlimited suburbanisation, and racial violence peaking in the 1960s well depicted in the movie Detroit (2017), leading to the city’s bankruptcy in 2013. Detroit was, and still is, a popular destination for lovers of ‘ruin porn’, exploring and picturing empty and decayed buildings. However, Detroit is being rediscovered in recent years with new start-ups and creative businesses finding their way to the city. This fits in a trend of revival in cities like Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Saint Louis in reaction to over-inflated cost to live and work in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York.

What went wrong? Was it just the cycle? Detroit is also an example where urban planning was at the full service of manufacturers like Ford and General Motors, and where urban development was subordinate to mobility. Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company and highly controversial because of his anti-Semitic views and Nazi-sympathies, was also an anti-urbanist. In his view, dense urbanisation could be prevented by giving households a car enabling them to commute over longer distances. In this way, workers and employees were able to live throughout large sprawled residential areas, and high-density urbanisation could be prevented. It could be that this was to prevent high concentrations of labour receptive to unionism as was the aim of the strategy of railway related commuting to limit urbanisation in Belgium in the 19th Century, or that it was just an effective way to increase the sales of the T-Ford.

Ever wider roads and motorways were needed to enable people from the suburbs to the city centre and to the workplaces. Infrastructure which connected locations on the one hand, but split up neighbourhoods and districts on the other. To increase road capacity, strips of urban tissue were demolished, and road widened. While Detroit is an extreme example of urban boom and decay, many US and also European cities have their own pieces of ‘Detroit’ urban history, as was nicely illustrated with examples from The Hague and Birmingham.

The subsequent panel debate moderated by Tim Verlaan (University of Amsterdam) with Tracy Metz (journalist), Carola Hein (TU Delft) and Hans Karssenberg (Stipo) was about challenges and risks cities are facing in light of the current evolution of mobility. As experience from the past shows, there is no guarantee that major urban mistakes following major transport and mobility innovations will not be made in the future. Careful analysis on the impact of new mobility forms on the urban patterns and how to integrate them in existing structures is essential.

Look forward to the Christmas Break. With the book Dream City a good piece of reading at hand.




Boat moored at Nieuwe Meer

As a good friend from Italy said, the best two days for a boat owner are the day it is being bought and the day it is being sold. Though we do already agree with the first half, we envisage to have many best days in between.

The ingredients of places

Wonderful keynote by James von Klempener at ULI 2018 summit in Dublin about interventions in five different neighbourhoods. Main ingredients of a place include:

  1. defining he boundary of the area
  2. supply the people, both pedestrians and transport,
  3. managing the flows through the area,
  4. understanding and articulating the history of a place,
  5. establishing the mix of functions and building uses,
  6. introducing activities in the public realm,
  7. shaping the architecture.

Fascinating presentation based on five urban mixed use cases in global cities like London, New York and Shanghai. Vision and knowledge on the urban integration of a place and the program in the but up and public space come ahead of design to make the design support the urban concept.