ULI Advisory Services Panel Report – Utrecht, Netherlands
June 1, 2005
Utrecht is the fourth-largest city in the Netherlands and the central point for the Dutch National Railways. The first shopping mall in Europe—Hoog Catharijne—is located adjacent to the Utrecht Centraal Station and is a regional draw for the city. A large trade fair and congress facility, the Jaarbeurs, also is adjacent to the train station. Substantial office and residential development can be found nearby. The area is flanked by two large open spaces, the Jaarbeursplein and Vredenburgplein, which have the potential to become community focal points as the area is regenerated.
The city of Utrecht and its partners asked ULI to assemble a team of real estate, economic development, and planning experts to help the city and its partners as they finalise a strategy for the regeneration of the central station area. Much has been done to date, including the following:
• The citizens of Utrecht have voted for a spacious city centre vision for the area;
• Workshops have been held to provide input to the master plan;
• The master plan was developed and completed in 2003; and
• Conceptual plans for a larger rail station have been drafted.
Both the public and private sectors believe there is great potential for regeneration in the study area. The combination of the largest public transportation hub in the country—which is expected to serve a total of 100 million passengers by 2020—the trade fair, and the medieval city centre of Utrecht should attract many visitors.
Before they came to Utrecht, each of the panelists reviewed briefing materials prepared by the city. In Utrecht, the panel received additional briefings from the sponsoring organisations, followed by a tour of the Utrecht Centraal Station area on foot and on bicycle. The panel also met with community leaders and business owners, whose knowledge of and passion for Utrecht and the site were as inspirational as they were informative. This input, as well as the panelists’ best professional judgment, helped the panel to prepare its findings and recommendations, which it presented on 25 May 2005 to the sponsors and invited guests. This report is a summary of those findings and recommendations, and reflects the panel’s presentation. It is divided into four sections:
• Guiding principles;
• Market support;
• Project components; and
• Development and implementation strategies.