Den Helder is changing, and at a rapid rate. Last year the new theatre opened, this year the new library and next year there will be a residential tower block along the sea wall. And that is not all by any means. You can paddle a canoe along the Stelling van Den Helder and drink a Helders beer at Fort Westoever. And soon you will be able to enjoy a view out over the sea towards Texel from your own living room. At least, that is, if you can get your hands on an apartment in the Molenplein.
What do these projects have in common? The party driving the initiative for these projects is Zeestad CV/BV. Zeestad can count the local and provincial authorities as shareholders and was created almost ten years ago to carry out the renovation of the city centre in Den Helder, which had come to a halt due to political concerns at national and regional level and those who wished to see the costs and projects set out in detail. This was achieved in 2008 with the city centre implementation plan. At AT Osborne, we have been managing many of these projects for over six years, and we are extremely proud to have been involved.
Vibrant heart of the city
As well as reconnecting the city with the port and the sea, an important pillar of the city centre’s urban renovation is making it more compact and more attractive. The main ways Zeestad is doing this are new-builds, conversion and renovation, while economic and societal changes in recent years have further underlined the importance of a more compact city centre. The starting point in developing the city centre was not to add further space for shops, but rather to move stores to a more compact city centre shopping area.
Attractive shopping area
Important parts of the compact shopping area are being improved by companies thanks to a fund aimed at contributing to renovating facades and attracting business from outside the area. At strategic locations, buildings have been acquired in order to improve the area’s attractiveness and add value to its two focal points. And with so many building developments underway in the city centre, keeping the inner city attractive while work is ongoing as well as coordinating all the activities was a constant source of discussion among investors in the city.
Finding the right focus
Social and economic developments never stop, and have resulted in the starting point of a compact heart of the city being further defined, thereby reducing the project to the two focal points of the shopping area. Yet that is not all for Den Helder, as it is also home to a large building that used to house V&D (Vrees en Droom department store). Fortunately, the key players in Den Helder also know how to work together to define the right focus for the city centre, and to differentiate between the daily issues and long-term developments.
Den Helder: A challenging workplace
Den Helder is reinventing itself in every area, from living, working, shopping and culture to recreation. Nice areas in Den Helder are being given a facelift by using beautiful old buildings for community activities. Gaps in the city’s fabric have been filled in with attractive new residential buildings in a segment that was not yet available in Den Helder. AT Osborne was involved in discussions when the vision was being defined and when setting up the processes, as well as the management of many projects, from design to implementation. The challenges and projects are so varied and great in number that we have enjoyed working on them for a good six years now.