Lapinlahti community astounded by proposition to hand over majority share of Finnish national heritage to private real estate company
Today, November 30th, 2022, The City of Helsinki published a proposition on how to develop the historical psychiatric hospital of Lapinlahti and its surroundings. The Lapinlahti community, that consists of the operators, inhabitants and supporters of the area, is shocked particularly by the preliminary plan to have the international real estate company NREP at the centre of the future of Lapinlahti. Since the plan is still in its early stages, now is the right time to have an active and open conversation that acknowledges the crucial interest groups and investigate and consider other alternatives, too.
Our vibrant Finnish cultural heritage must remain in responsible national ownership
A site like Lapinlahti, that is culturohistorically and nationally valuable, should be found a domestic owner that is preferably not after dividend income and capital gain. Moreover, it would be justified to use public funds to renovate such an important place. The Lapinlahti community would like to remind that the real estate strategy of Helsinki allows the city to remain as the owner of real estate if the real estate in question supports the strategic goals of the city. These goals can include the development of diverse urban culture, increasing the vibrancy of the area with real estate, the aim to maintain historically valuable buildings in good condition or ensuring that a location remains specifically in public use. The current operators of Lapinlahti fulfil all the goals above.
The Lapinlahti community, in any case, will gladly plan the future of Lapinlahti with the City of Helsinki, NREP and other interest groups. However, the prerequisite for this is maximal transparency pertaining to all key features, such as funding, ownership, financial ties and potential side agreements. Real estate investors must not receive property somewhere else in exchange for Lapinlahti; it would be disadvantageous for the city and its citizens. The City of Helsinki is not obliged to do so either. Nor does it have to make amends for the earlier competition in 2020 on the future of Lapinlahti that failed, although investors should be given a predictable environment to operate in. Lapinlahti must not become a short-term tool, even by proxy, for maximising profit. Mutual interests, ”non-profitness” and the public sector must remain at the helm and as the majority shareholder when Lapinlahti is developed – both now and in the future.
The buildings of Lapinlahti must be renovated in stages to secure the future of location-based operations
The Lapinlahti community is also worried by the preliminary plan to renovate the buildings all at once. This would result in a two-year break or longer in the operation of the Lapinlahti community, which would most likely be catastrophic to many of the location-based services of Lapinlahti. They include e.g. therapy, activities (many of them citizen-initiated) related to well-being, urban nature, volunteer and group work and art and culture that are inspired by the beauty and history of the location.
The unique communality of Lapinlahti and its diverse activities have formed organically, and they are tied to Lapinlahti. Hence, it cannot be transported elsewhere or put on hold. Lapinlahti is a safe and inclusive place, especially for people in vulnerable positions. If it closes, it can be difficult or even impossible for them to find a place, that is as inclusive, diagnose-free, anti-stigmatising, to be in and to be part of. The buildings of Lapinlahti must therefore be renovated in stages and in a transparent manner so that the future of location-based services can be secured.
The preliminary plan for the future of Lapinlahti has also commendable parts, despite its problems and risks. For example, the suggestions about having city residents involved in the planning, keeping the park open to everyone, preserving the nature of the park, disallowing the construction of new buildings and scaled rents are good and recommendable. We also appreciate that work related to mental health, non-profit organisations and culture can continue. Moreover, on a general level, the plans for creating a new real estate company to manage Lapinlahti and its buildings and a new hostel have a sound basis. Should the aforementioned issues be acknowledged and risks not materialise, it is possible to reach an excellent result with collaborative development.
On Friday, December 7th, 4 pm, Lapinlahti hosts an open discussion on the future of Lapinlahti in the auditorium of the main building.
For more information, please contact
Lapinlahden Lähde Oy
040 665 6605
Chairman of the Board
Osuuskunta Lapinlahden Tilajakamo
050 560 2570
Pro Lapinlahti mielenterveysseura ry
0400 450 065
Kakspy Palvelut Oy
040 710 3201