For shopping, go down one level

Small talk
As Immofinanz embarks on a shift towards developing affordable housing, we spoke to the company's COO, Deitmar Reidnl, about how this will fit into its activities in the retail and office segments

Some of Immofinanz’s Stop Shop retail parks are to be expanded with additional floors with environmentally-friendly, low-budget apartments. Where did your idea come from to combine retail and housing?

Dietmar Reindl, COO, Immofinanz: Sustainability, innovative real estate solutions and an attractive risk-return profile are a fixed component of our growth strategy. Over the past few months, we’ve also taken a very close look at what the (real estate) world needs in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. We already have corresponding office (myhive) and retail (Stop Shop) offers in these areas. When it comes to sustainability, we have major goals and an ambitious programme underway to become climate-neutral. However, there is one major topic that we have not yet addressed: affordable, sustainable housing. With the largest network of retail parks in Europe, we have enormous resources for mastering this challenge.

Who will your housing offer will be addressed to? Could you describe the main features of these apartments?

We are creating high-quality housing for people with lower and middle incomes. Our ‘Top on Stop’ apartments will meet high sustainability criteria. Their modular wood construction will allow for combinations ranging from mini-lofts to family apartments, apartments with home office rooms, or separate units for guests or caregivers. The climate-neutral energy concept includes the use of photovoltaics, heat recovery and geothermal energy as well as the unsealing of land through greening and the installation of public areas like playgrounds, meeting zones and rooftop gardens. In this way, we are meeting three of the greatest challenges of our time: we are advancing densification and fighting ground sealing; we are creating high-quality housing for people with lower and middle incomes; and we are building climate-neutral housing with our planned wood construction and green energy concepts. The first pilot project has already started and will be implemented quickly once the permits are issued.

Do you think people will be eager to live above retail facilities? I live near a small local store and it took me months to get used to the 4am deliveries.

The symbiosis of affordable housing and low-cost local supply concepts with leisure facilities is a win-win situation for all sides. The attractive and sustainable addition of more buildings instead of the consumption of further green spaces as well as short distances for residents and consumers are also clearly in the focus of the municipalities. Therefore, we are also working closely with local authorities on our Stop Shop developments and considering their feedback.

You have started a pilot project in Austria – what stage is it at? And what will be the next stages?

The first pilot project has already started in Austria and will be implemented quickly after municipal permits.

Can you reveal any other new ideas Immofinanz is going to surprise us with this year?

Unfortunately, not yet! But I can assure you, the moment there is news I will let you know!

Interview: Tomasz Cudowski