The City of Helsinki wants to develop the attractiveness of the city centre and improve the operating conditions for companies

City Centre
15.12.2021
A vibrant and attractive city centre is very important for Helsinki. The new Helsinki City Strategy specifies a number of objectives for the development of the city centre. These include launching a vitality project in the city centre, streamlining traffic and increasing the attractiveness of the city centre. In addition, the importance of art and culture in creating experiences is particularly emphasised in the city centre, where a lot of events are held.

A vibrant and attractive city centre is very important for Helsinki. The new Helsinki City Strategy specifies a number of objectives for the development of the city centre. These include launching a vitality project in the city centre, streamlining traffic and increasing the attractiveness of the city centre. In addition, the importance of art and culture in creating experiences is particularly emphasised in the city centre, where a lot of events are held.

The vitality of Helsinki city centre has suffered more than other parts of the city due to COVID-19 restrictions: the lack of employees and tourists and the extensive restrictions imposed on several sectors have at least temporarily weakened the operating conditions for many companies in the city centre. In particular, the number of shops selling fashion and accessories in the heart of the city declined even before the pandemic. The growth of online shopping and the completion of shopping centres outside the city centre have further increased competition in the retail sector.

“In cooperation with other operators in the city centre, the City of Helsinki aims to improve the attractiveness of the city centre, increase the number of visitors there and ensure that visitors and customers enjoy their time in Helsinki city centre,” says Marja-Leena Rinkineva, Director of Economic Development at the City of Helsinki.

The City of Helsinki aims to secure the operating conditions for the retail sector and to enable the renewal of the sector. Retail operators see challenges in the operating conditions in the city centre, such as the rent levels and development of customer flows. On the other hand, city centres have always stood out with their uniqueness and appeal, and Helsinki city centre is not losing this appeal any time soon.

“The restoration of vitality in the heart of Helsinki requires rapid and forward-looking measures that can prevent the withering of the city centre and ensure the creation of new jobs, especially in retail, services and tourism. It is very positive that the City of Helsinki is developing the attractiveness of the city centre in close cooperation with companies. The new city strategy provides an excellent framework for turning Helsinki into a city of international interest that attracts companies and experts and drives growth. A living city centre is an essential part of this,” says Markku Lahtinen, Director of the Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce.                       

New cooperation group between the City of Helsinki and the business sector to support the strengthening of the vitality of the city centre

Together with representatives of the local business sector, the City of Helsinki has set up a joint working group, Helsingin kaupungin ja elinkeinoelämänyhteistyöryhmä ydinkeskustan elinvoiman vahvistamiseksi (Cooperation group of the City of Helsinki and the business sector to strengthen the vitality of the city centre, HELY working group). The working group has been set up for the entire 2021–2025 council term.

The City of Helsinki aims to ensure that the city centre remains Finland’s most diverse concentration of workplaces, services and leisure opportunities and is accessible to all throughout the year. To this end, the city will intensify its cooperation with various operators in the city centre. At the same time, Helsinki also wants to ensure the good accessibility of the city centre by all means of transport and at all times of the year.

The HELY working group aims to look for both quick measures and long-term development measures to revitalise the city centre. The working group will form common objectives based on which the city centre will be developed. In addition, the group will identify key development needs in order to strengthen the vitality of the area and promote the implementation of the city centre guidelines set out in the Helsinki City Strategy 2021–2025 and in the “Elinkeinopolitiikan maankäytölle asettamat tavoitteet” (“Goals set by the industrial policy for land use”, ELMA) programme. At the same time, the group aims to draw up an action plan for quick measures to be taken over the next few years and long-term development measures to strengthen the vitality of the city centre, and to identify and promote quick experiments for continuously developing the functions and comfort of the city centre.

The HELY working group is chaired by Marja-Leena Rinkineva, Director of Economic Development at the City of Helsinki. The working group represents, as comprehensively as possible, the functions and operators essential for the vitality of the city centre, such as retail, cultural and leisure activities, transport, accommodation and restaurant services. In addition to the city, the key operators also include business organisations operating in the area, property owners, the Port of Helsinki and the University of Helsinki.

News photo: Ioannis Koulousis