Gradual approach is municipalities’
key to redevelopment projects
Inner cities are becoming increasingly more complex to r...
themselves must take on a steering role. And there’s the rub:
it is the singularity of the municipal organisation that pos...
of host. A local partner, such as a cultural entrepreneur, is the
right person for the role of market superintendent becau...
The amount and flow of visitors in the area can indicate the
success of the functions in place. Information obtained throu...
The Fokker School, The Hague
After gaining experience through the redevelopment of the
Caballero factory and the former Ri...
- The decision has political backing
- The decision is not in conflict with public opinion (at that time)
- The decision i...
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Gradual approach in redevelopment


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Geleidelijkheid is voor gemeenten de sleutel bij herontwikkeling. Een artikel over het door Twynstra Gudde ontwikkelde Drie-fasen model voor de herontwikkeling van industrieel en cultureel erfgoed. Gepubliceerd in BOSS magazine.

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Gradual approach in redevelopment

  1. 1. Gradual approach is municipalities’ key to redevelopment projects Inner cities are becoming increasingly more complex to redevelop. The scale, the influence of the context and the number of parties involved have all increased over the past few decades; causing the required decision- making process within city and town councils to become inherently more complex as well. As a result of the current credit crunch the involvement and the stimulating effect of property developers has diminished. A gradual approach, as contained in the Three Phase Model (Driefasenmodel), helps local authorities to create a Flow: increasing dynamics around an area development in terms of identity, cooperation, feasibility and public and/or political attention. This article describes why now – more than ever – it is essential to take a gradual approach to redevelopment. ir. Wicher F. Schönau and ir. Iljan D. van Hardevelt A changing playing field During the past few years various property developers have become adept at letting existing buildings gradually ‘blend into’ surroundings that are planned for transformation. The so-called ‘TCNflow’isawell-knownexampleofthis.Specifictransformation of function with limited constructional interference has given areas such as those around the Media Centrale in Groningen and the NDSM-werf (shipyard) in Amsterdam renewed appeal. Large urban redevelopments involve increasingly larger scale and longer term area development, with the participation of public and private parties. Even in economically favourable times the financial feasibility of projects like this is under pressure, but now, since the credit crunch, market parties can hardly be expected to take any action at all. Current developments are being delayed or cancelled altogether. Furthermore, property developers nowadays are approaching councils or housing associations to offer them their forward contracts. Although the division of roles seems to have changed quickly, the social and political urgency to tackle these areas has not lessened. In order to act upon this need, municipalities 1 4 BOSS Magazine 36 June 2009
  2. 2. themselves must take on a steering role. And there’s the rub: it is the singularity of the municipal organisation that poses problems at the beginning of projects like these. The municipality as a developer Nowadays, a growing number of municipalities are able to put their real estate to strategic use. The structure of municipal real estate companies provides insight into the real estate portfolio and contributes to the professionalization of its management. One of the advantages in this respect is that unoccupied premises situated at strategic locations in the city can be prevented – or created in order to make room for redevelopment. Municipalities that fulfil a steering role for these buildings are confronted with the structure of their own organisation, which is divided into services or directorates, each with their own councilman or woman, their own interests and their own policy. An integral (policy) redevelopment approach is by no means a matter of course. Moreover, it no longer suffices to have a purely systematic approach developed over time by realising expansion sites around cities. Long completion times, a multitude of actors and factors in the project environment, financial uncertainty and social attention make project management with a clear end view in mind quite tricky from a management point of view. Large investment projects like the Noord-Zuidlijn (metro line) in Amsterdam show how risky a prematurely fixed framework can be for administrators in terms of time and money. One can question whether transparency in decision-making and accountability is a blessing for realising projects. But it is clear that there is a need for other kinds of development. The Three Phase Model facilitates the Flow The Three Phase Model (Driefasenmodel) developed by Twynstra Gudde is a development strategy for property owners of limited means who are under social pressure to take action. The model is especially useful for municipalities, but also for housing associations, for instance; it can be applied to areas as well as buildings. The Three Phase Model is based on the dilemma of ‘doing something or nothing’: finding arguments that legitimise a small-scale start to a redevelopment project. It lays links between (municipal) policy objectives and a physical spatial transformation. Structural interventions, corresponding investments and target groups are scaled up per phase to find out which ‘type’ of redevelopment will be successful. The following three development phases can be distinguished: 1.Test phase: Realisation of an attractive environment 2.Growth phase: Concept development and concept management 3.Development phase: Completion of the practicable development of the area or building The figure shows a phased up-scaling: in each phase a good balance is sought between the structural condition of the property, suitable users and complementary services. The property owner’s directions are pivotal in the Three Phase Model as the property owner is required to take action, but usually lacks people or means. By collaborating with other parties the development process can be accelerated with limited means. A Flow is created; in the Test Phase, activating stakeholders in the vicinity is an explicit means for getting the dynamics going. Three ‘development roles’ are crucial in the development process and they recur in each phase. They can, however, be fulfilled by different parties. It seems to be a matter of course within municipal organisations that either a social development department (e.g., Culture or Economy) or the spatial development department plays the role2 Images 1 The Fokker School, The Hague 2 Three phases model (Driefasenmodel) 1 BOSS Magazine 36 June 2009 5
  3. 3. of host. A local partner, such as a cultural entrepreneur, is the right person for the role of market superintendent because that person is in first instance able to find tenants for the Test Phase. So in order to actively collaborate with partners in redevelopment assignments municipalities must take an integral, cross- departmental and even cross-organisational project approach. But that is precisely their weakness: project mandates are seldom issued across departments, and should they be issued, then it is with difficulty or they perish due to conflicting interests – even before they have been put to a council member. Knowing this, the quality of the administrative order for starting a redevelopment project is crucial. Where to start? A few municipal organisations applied the Three Phase Model. This led to the realisation that the start of any redevelopment project requires focus. Redevelopment projects are prompted in first instance by an administrative aspiration: the initiative is based on policy principles at this level. It is translated into, for instance, a directional document. Usually, the planning phase starts from there, whereby – depending to a certain extent on the scale of the project – an urban development plan is drawn up. This is the first concrete measure towards the end vision to be realised through the development process. The plan is anchored on an administrative level when the area development is optimised and can thus be introduced into the municipal decision process (council meeting), under the condition that the area development feasibility (GREX) must tally so that a decision can be made from a project as well as a political point of view. This way, one can refer to this decision instance in the follow-up phases because it is the point in time that the terms with respect to time, money and quality were determined. The crux of the Three Phase Model lies in the existence of the Test Phase that precedes the usual planning phase. This phase provides room for ‘testing’ which concept catches on in the building or area. By giving the location on temporary loan to public-oriented artists, for instance, several objectives are pursued: - It prevents vacancy - Accessible accommodation is made available for specific target groups - Exhibitions and events contribute to the ‘traffic’ in the area - A new identity is built up on the site letting contract management events ict products hospitality maintenance interior facilities building visitors tenants target groups staff building requirement continuity flow company exploitation architecture land exploitation investments concept philosophy territory services users location determine concept ambitions objectives develop steer secure realize test renew 3 4 Role Task Activities Host - Offer preconditions to users - Generate ‘traffic’ on site - Pro-active asset management - Give building on loan - Provide flexibility Concept developer - Explore location’s opportunities - Roll out succesfull concept - Set up identifiable group of tenants - Programming - Provide services Market superintendent - Involve local tenants - Operational development - Subleasing - Local knowledge and contracts 6 BOSS Magazine 36 June 2009
  4. 4. The amount and flow of visitors in the area can indicate the success of the functions in place. Information obtained through the Test Phase is used to develop the concept for the building, the area and the actual planning. Starting with a clear concept Successful concepts are defined on the basis of three mainstays: location & building, departments & services, users & target groups. So by definition, an integral concept works in several policy areas. A direction document drawn up at the start must act as a guideline for the decision-making on the concept during the redevelopment process. The principles with respect to the users that are sought, for instance, give the concept developer a fall- back option. In practice and in order to fill the space, involved parties – not uncommonly a council member – often bring in users who do not necessarily complement the concept. Indeed, wrongly chosen users harm the concept and threaten the success of the redevelopment. Being able to refer back to an administrative document makes it easier to protect the concept against external and internal influences. This is a condition for municipal organisations to properly manage the concept: monitoring and continuously evaluating the balance between the three mainstays. This sometimes implies making decisions that are important for the concept as a whole (such as a mix of tenants) but may be detrimental for individual policy areas (e.g., finance). It is awkward to start up an undefined redevelopment project, especially in a municipal organisation. Usually, a well-founded plan must at least demonstrate a project’s financial feasibility before funding is provided. Although funding can be provided for each separate phase, it constitutes a part of the total investment sum. When applying the Three Phase Model it is not always possible to provide insight into the total investment because the exact elements of the redevelopment project have not yet been specified. The user of the model acknowledges the complexity of the redevelopment and intentionally leaves room for opportunities that present themselves, but this does complicate the actual realisation of the project. Making a decision based on many uncertainties demands a certain amount of daring from administrators and that is something that municipal organisations do not originally have. Images 3 Concept development 4 Concept management 5 The Fokker School, The Hague 5 5 BOSS Magazine 36 June 2009 7
  5. 5. The Fokker School, The Hague After gaining experience through the redevelopment of the Caballero factory and the former Rijksautomobiel Centrale, the city of The Hague took an integral approach to the redevelopment of the former Fokker School right from the start. This was not easy for the municipal organisation, as is borne out by the fact that more than 20 signatures were required to approve the project decision. The Anthony Fokker School redevelopment fits within the municipal ambition to fully revitalise the Binckhorst area. The building along Binckhorstlaan used to be a hangar and educational building. Today it has temporarily been turned into a multi-purpose building with minimum alterations and is thus in theTest Phase of its transformation. Ideas for the next phase are already in place but are still subject to change. The fact that policy objectives and responsibilities of the Economy, Culture, Traffic, Real Estate and Property Development departments do not correspond with each other is a recurring problem when starting up projects such as this one in The Hague. For instance, no investments can be made to increase efficiency without being based on a project decision: municipalities drive by costs whereas developers drive by yield. As a rule, such decisions take 3 to 4 months which usually creates an impossible situation. When deciding on usage, a decision often has to be made between leasing opportunities that fall within the concept and leasing opportunities that do not meet the criteria. In the case of the Fokker School, for instance, a major source of income (weddings and fairs) was rejected in order to stick to the concept. The market superintendent role is currently filled by a local party, the roles of host and concept manager have been taken on by Real Estate Management and the concept developer for phase 2 is stationed in the Property Development department. Document for decision-making Due to the complex context of inner city redevelopment projects it is best not to make any decisions based on a very strictly defined result. Municipal administrators want room to link policy principles with the redevelopment so as to give the project legitimacy. Furthermore, strict project frameworks veil inherent risks of future overspending. Although these risks usually go beyond their term, council members are very much aware of the visibility of their decisions made in the past. So a lot has to be done to enable a Test Phase within a municipal organisation. In first instance, executive officials will not submit projects that lack sufficient (financial) basis for a decision. If, however, a document at administrative level provides enough information to start up an integral redevelopment project, a better decision can be taken at a later date – after the Test Phase. That better decision is what we are aiming for: after the Test Phase, the temporary usage provides more information on: - Which usage can be successful (which tenants present themselves) - The extent to which public opinion appreciates the redevelopment - The investment opportunities that parties in the vicinity see in the redevelopment - Which concept contributes to the identity of the area After the Test Phase a decision can be made that provides more certainty – for example as regards financial feasibility – and also covers more political risks. So the quality of the decision on the final redevelopment is much higher when taken after the Test Phase. In our view, the very first decision that must be made in order to start the Test Phase must meet the following criteria: 6 8 BOSS Magazine 36 June 2009
  6. 6. - The decision has political backing - The decision is not in conflict with public opinion (at that time) - The decision is in line with a number of fundamental policy principles - The administrators must in potential perceive sufficient support within their own organisation for the redevelopment - A clear time limit must be set within which the final decision (after the Test Phase) is to be taken In conclusion Complex redevelopments in municipalities go hand in hand with a decision-making process containing many uncertainties. In our experience a gradual process benefits the content of the project. By using the Flow in terms of up-scaled use, building on a concept and growing public attention, redevelopments are more successful. It is recommended to introduce phases into the decision-making process as well: by not wishing to make a decision on the entire redevelopment project right at the start, administrators give themselves the chance to make a better decision at a later stage. Therefore, the Test Phase of the Three Phase Model serves not only to test which dynamics can get the building or area off the ground, it also helps council members to sense public opinion with respect to the redevelopment. And last but not least, it provides time and space to arrive at an integral municipal vision for the redevelopment. ir. Wicher F. Schönau is a consultant at Twynstra Gudde. In 2006 he graduated at Real Estate & Housing (TU Delft), with a thesis on the role of ambition in the building process of a new museum. He specialises in Public Real Estate. Wicher is a consultant in the field of real estate for municipal organisations, specifically users of cultural buildings. He is currently involved in the development of the Groninger Forum in Groningen, having previously contributed to the Nieuwe Rijksmuseum. ir. Iljan D. van Hardevelt has worked as a Public Real Estate consultant at Twynstra Gudde since the year 2000. He focuses particularly on the art & culture, sports and creative sectors. The majority of his clients are in the public domain. During the past few years Iljan has worked for municipalities, in most cases as a concept developer. For the city of The Hague he acted as property developer from concept to completion. References 1 Schönau, W.F. & D. de Bruijne (2008) – Geleidelijke herontwikkeling als investering in waarde (Gradual redevelopment as an investment in value). In: Property Research Quarterly, December 2008. 6 Images 6 The Fokker School, The Hague BOSS Magazine 36 June 2009 9