NEW LIFE FOR VENERABLE PROPERTIES TEXT BY DAVID J. CORD
liel Saarinen is one of Finland’s most famous architects. He built the Finnish National Museum and Helsinki’s railway station. He worked in Europe and across the American Midwest. It is rare for his buildings to come on the market, but now there are two available. “These are prestige properties,” says Mauri Sahi, Director of Senate Properties. “They are in great locations and have fantastic histories.” Senate Properties, better known as Senaatti, manages the real estate assets of the State of Finland. More and more of these buildings are no longer needed. “The government wants to use these properties more efficiently,” Sahi explains. “If they are no longer needed our job is to develop or sell them. Sometimes we have these very prominent properties come on the market.”
HISTORICAL BUILDINGS Two of these properties now for sale were designed by Eliel Saarinen. The famous Marble Palace in Helsinki’s exclusive Kaivopuisto district opened in 1918. Designed in the Classic style, it has been used as a private residence as well as a court house. One year later Saarinen completed the Munkkiniemi Training Centre, which has over 7,000 square meters and
sits on a leafy street two blocks from the sea. The building has housed Finland’s Air Force and Customs. “This could be developed for high-end flats, a hotel or assisted living facilities,” Sahi suggests. Another significant property for sale is Vuorikatu 24 in central Helsinki. Formerly home of the Meteorological Institute, the 8,500 square meter building is near the railway station and offers an exclusive view of the Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden.
HELSINKI HIGH-RISE But Senate Properties does more than sell properties no longer used by the State. They have teamed up with the City of Helsinki to develop the Central Pasila Tower Area, right next to downtown. Organisers expect towers at least fifteen stories tall and about 200,000 square metres of space to be developed. “Helsinki High-rise is a competition to design and construct residential, office and commercial space,” Sahi says. “Bids should be coming in during 2017. We are really excited to see how this develops.”