Inner cities are favored by large office users, especially at (fin)tech and creative companies. Cities are developing more than ever because of the people who live in them and the city center is always the nicest place in the end. The place where continuous interaction takes place between competing functions, such as the former market squares. Now is the time to diversify and redesign the shopping street. We are our environment and vice versa. And these new users of the city center have a decisive voice in this.
In the Netherlands, city centers are unique because of the intricate shopping hierarchy that was politically determined after the Second World War. It is precisely this structure that ensures that cities and villages remain liveable. However, the Kalverstraat has become too homogeneous in recent years. Major brands can no longer distinguish themselves there, so that a physical presence no longer adds anything for a brand. Not even in a (tourist) city like Amsterdam. The street now seems to have lost its allure due to a trend that was already visible in smaller cities and is now also accelerated in large cities by corona: large retailers are accelerating their online strategy at the expense of a physical presence in shopping streets. With vacancy as a result.
Users of public space have always determined the function and the branching of the shopping street. At the end of the 19th century, the Kalverstraat was the place to see and be seen. Men and women from different walks of life strolled there at regular intervals and - due to the new street lighting - even late into the night. This resulted in a mix of shops, hotels and offices. These same users are now giving the Kalverstraat the opportunity to reinvent itself and, in addition to the re-emerging tourism, to focus on the residents and all those Dutch people who appreciate the city. The shopping function of city centers is evolving into a new reality in which resilient retailers can go along with a mixed interpretation: a liveable and lively city center where working, living, shopping and relaxation go hand in hand. The type of store changes with other users. Every city or even every shopping street needs its own tailor-made solution, and the potential for redevelopment of retail properties to other functions is increasingly being explored, also in the large cities. This is clearly visible on floors of large former department stores, where retention of the retail function is no longer self-evident and offices (returned) are increasingly being used in the middle of the shopping street. Preserving or, conversely, bringing back university buildings is also a good idea, not least to enhance the vibrancy of the city. Due to tourism, the chains remain a 'must have', in addition to shops that meet the daily needs of people who work and/or live in the center of the city. Responding to the trend and diversifying is the motto, then the Kalverstraat will once again become the 'place to be'.
Every month a column is published on a topic related to the value of the city. This vision is based on internal research and dialogue with internal and external stakeholders, in close collaboration with consultants and analysts from our Real Estate Strategy & Innovation team. More background can be found in our Insight: Kalverstraat in 2030 (in Dutch).