Kotka Old Port Moves Ahead with Technical University of Southeast Finland Joining the Project
Kotka Old Port MDC (“MDC” – Kotkan Kantasataman Kehitys OY), City of Kotka, and Southeastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (“XAMK”) Announce Selection of Kotka Old Port as location of new University Campus, and of a new Exhibition and Sports Arena Center, and progress with the Old Port Project. A press event was held at Vellamo Center on 21 June, at which comments were made by Henry Lindelof, Mayor of Kotka, Cameron Sawyer, Chairman of MDC, Heikki Saastamoinen, President of XAMK, Markku Hannonen, Head of City Planning of the City of Kotka, Hannu Karavirta, Chairman of Cursor, Petra Cranston of Cursor, and Outi Raatikainen, CEO of Pink Eminence, consultant to the Exhibition and Sport Arena Center.
Kotka Old Port will be the location of the new merged Southeastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (“XAMK”) campus, to open in 2020. XAMK was born in the merger of the Universities of Kymenlaakso and Mikkeli. The new merged entity, which will be the largest and most important technological university in Southeastern Finland, has its campuses in four different cities. Now XAMK will move the Kotka campus to Old Port, bringing 3000 students, faculty and staff to downtown Kotka.
Heikki Saastamoinen, President of XAMK, commented: “We are excited about the move to downtown Kotka and specifically to the Old Port project. The large-scale redevelopment of the Old Port area of Kotka which is being carried out by the City of Kotka in cooperation with MDC will create a marvelous location for the University, really unique in the whole region, which will offer great amenities and context for University life.”
Cameron Sawyer, Chairman of MDC, which owns the Old Port project, commented: “We are extremely pleased to welcome XAMK and the Exhibition Center to the Old Port project. XAMK has one of the best high tech business programs in the entire Nordic region, and will be the center of a great deal of economic activity which will greatly benefit the economy of Kotka and the entire Kymenlaakso area. We will be working closely with the University and with the City of Kotka to create elements which will work synergistically with the University, including a business incubator, office space for firms connected with the University, and student housing. The presence of the 3,000 students, faculty and staff will also directly enhance the functioning of the two hotels, the multitude of F&B establishments, supermarket, and outlet mall which we are developing. The presence of the University and of the Exhibition Center really create a critical mass of urban life in the Old Port area. We are very happy to be working with the University and with the City on these projects.
Outi Raatikainen of Pink Eminence commented: Southeast Finland lacks a proper facility for large- scale conferences and exhibitions, and downtown Kotka, which is the most dynamic urban area in Southeast Finland, is the logical place to put one. The Exhibition and Event Arena Center at Kotka Old Port will work very well together with the University, making it possible to hold different kinds of conferences and exhibitions related to, for example, high technology business. The hotels and excellent F&B establishments being developed by MDC will also be very important to the good functioning of the Arena Center. The Kotka Old Port Outlet Mall, which will be under construction already this summer, will also be an attractive amenity to exhibition and conference attendees coming from other areas. Altogether we are very pleased to be a part of this exciting project. Sporting events, concerts, and other events will round out the program of the Exhibition Center and keep it busy year around. CEO, promoter Vesa Ristimäki from No Fear Agency & Promotion Ltd reminded that concerts and events are a growing business in Finland and new venues are needed. Kotka is particularly interesting because its location east of Helsinki.
Petra Cranston of Cursor, which is the Regional Development Agency of the Kotka-Hamina Area, announced that four cruise ship visits to Kotka will already take place during the summer of 2017. “These cruise ship calls represent the fruit of several years of work we have been carrying out together with the City of Kotka and with MDC. By 2020 we expect 50 to 70 cruise ships to call at the Old Port and other Kotka port locations, bringing more than 60 000 cruise guests to Kotka. Shopping at the Old Port Outlet has been a significant attraction to the cruise ship lines, whose clients enjoy outlet shopping, and who lack good shopping opportunities in the typical Baltic Sea cruise circuits. We are also working to attract an operator for a direct ferry line from St. Petersburg to Kotka Old Port. This will be a substantial attraction not only to Russian shoppers desiring to travel to Finland more comfortably than is possible by car, but also to increasing numbers of Chinese tourists who seek good shopping opportunities combined with visits to Russia. The Kotka-Hamina area offers a wealth of other touristic attractions which we will be marketing to Russian and Chinese tourists, cruise ship guests, and tourists from other countries, including increasing numbers of Germans. The Old Port project, located in the heart of downtown Kotka, will be the nexus of all of these touristic and shopping activities.”
Mayor Henry Lindelof and Cameron Sawyer of MDC announced the start of large scale construction works on the Old Port Outlet site before the end of summer. “The next stage of capital has been committed to the Outlet Project, and full scale construction works will start as soon as we can complete the tender for the contractor”, Sawyer commented. In response to questions from the attending journalists, Sawyer continued: “Some tens of thousands of square meters of existing buildings have to be demolished to make way for the Outlet building, and the next months of work will concentrate as well as large-scale earth works, foundation piling works, and various infrastructure works. Underground parts of the construction work are complicated by the ground conditions at the Project site, which is located on reclaimed land. We will be building the Outlet foundations over a network of several hundred drilled micro-piles in order to spread the loads.” Mayor Lindelof added “MDC controls the Old Port area according to an Investment Contract entered into between the City of Kotka and MDC some time ago. In accordance with the Investment Contract, the City leases subdivided parts of the Old Port area to MDC for the construction of individual elements of the larger Old Port project. We have negotiated and will now sign, in the next week or two, the lease agreement for the Outlet first phase area, and MDC will begin paying rent to the City. We are very pleased to see the Outlet project going ahead rapidly now. MDC has done a very complicated job raising capital, finding tenants, working out infrastructure and site conditions, and designing and marketing the Outlet project. We are very pleased with what MDC has achieved and we are very happy to have MDC as our partner in this very complex job of redevelopment of the Old Port area.” In response to questions from journalists, Mayor Lindelof added: “The City will benefit from the Old Port project by receiving several million euros a year of land rent from the project when it is fully built out. But more importantly, the City will benefit greatly from the jobs created, taxes paid, and the economic activity which will be sparked by the redevelopment of the Old Port area, not only the commercial projects of MDC, but also the University, and the Exhibition Center which we are developing ourselves. It would not be an overstatement to say that the City of Kotka will be reborn as a result of all of these projects, and the citizens of Kotka will enjoy greatly enhanced economic opportunities, including both employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, as well as a greatly enhanced urban life, as a result.”