Renovated Hilvertshof is ready for a strong position in the region
Shopping Center News - spring 2002
New owner provides the final touches
The Hilvertshof shopping center in Hilversum was one of the first planned covered shopping centers in the Netherlands. At the end of the last century, a renovation was started in line with current standards of architecture and routing which was provisionally completed in September 2000. Kroonenberg Groep acquired the shopping center in mid 2001. A good time for Shopping Center News to ask some questions. What will happen? What will be Hilvertshof’s position in the near future? And, who is Kroonenberg Groep?
Mr. L. Bamberger is the managing director. ‘This company invests in real estate and also manages it. More than two-thirds of our portfolio is invested in shopping centers, retail outlets and PDV locations. 30% is invested in residential, industrial and office real estate. The retail segment is therefore our core business. We currently own five shopping centers. In addition to Hilvertshof, we have De Kolk in Amsterdam, Velserhof in IJmuiden, Gansehof in Coevorden and the Hoogvliet shopping center. We also have a large number of premises at A1 locations throughout the Netherlands. Regarding management, by keeping everything in-house, both we and our tenants experience the benefits of short lines of communication and a high degree of commitment. Action items can usually be dealt with swiftly, and anyway we are known as a company that takes action rather than simply states intentions.’
Back to the Hilvertshof. The text received by your editor comes from Messrs. J.M.M. van der Schoor, commercial real estate manager, and W.L.J. Hofman, manager for shopping centers. Regarding further plans for the Hilvertshof, Van der Schoor says: ‘We are now putting the final touches to the renovation. This has already led to a significant improvement to the appearance of the interior, but we agreed with the tenants that a few items had not been finished satisfactorily. We are now working on an impressive appearance for the entrances, which should lead to synergy with the rest of the central district. We also want to create more synergy in the linking area between Hema and V&D. The Hilvertshof shopping center has very much turned inwards: the public passing by on the outside should be able to notice the space behind the shop fronts much more clearly.
We are also engaged in optimizing the business mix, the routing, the signposting and the lighting. A second escalator will also be installed on Kerkstraat this year. The parking garage is let to Q-Park, a professional parking facilities operator and partner, known for providing a good product. Q-Park will also renovate the parking garage in the near future.’
Hilversum as a regional shopping area
It cannot be denied that Hilversum initially has suffered from all the public works in progress, traffic diversions and of course the renovation of the Hilvertshof. These multi-year projects are now complete, and the result is a ring road that connects to the core shopping area and its parking (the Hilvertshof garage has 700 spaces). The public works have definitely given a boost to quality, and the Hilvertshof has followed suit.
Mr. Hofman, manager of the Hilvertshof: ‘Look around. This is a normal weekday, but it’s nice and busy. It’s good weather outside, but a lot of people are sitting on our terraces as well. It’s always nice and busy in such a central area. And consumers have been using the same route for 30 years: Kerkstraat and the Hilvertshof form the A1 shopping area in the city, even throughout the Gooi region, all the way to Almere! The figures speak for themselves: 172,000 consumers on average per week in the Hilvertshof alone. And they show a rising trend.’
Van der Schoor: ‘We still have work to do, hopefully in cooperation with the rest of the central area. The quality of the area needs to be well communicated. The profiling should mostly relate to the presence of well-known fashion brands, for instance. To extend the reach to the Gooi region and further is certainly possible, as is a position in the top 20 shopping centers in the Netherlands. This means that we must profile the Hilvertshof not only to consumers, but also to retailers. For them, the Hilvertshof is an excellent proposition here in the Gooi region and with the progress that we are making, there are still some opportunities for other retail formulas.’
There’s no doubt about the ambition of the people from Kroonenberg Groep. That’s necessary, because with a shopping center of this format you have to earn your market position. Retail formulas play an essential role in this. The operators of shopping centers must therefore create the right conditions. Key words are cooperation - with other parties and with local government, an active and visible presence and most of all, quality in all areas. Van der Schoor: ‘You can do a lot with this center … and we will.’