“Oskar” in Osnabrück is planned to cover three levels. The external facades are reminiscent of nested showcases. Image: URW

An Oskar for Osnabrück

New shopping center projects in Europe have been scarce in recent years. The Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield Group has bucked this trend and is currently developing “Oskar”, an inner-city shopping center in Osnabrück, Germany.

“Oskar”, which is being built by the Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield Group, is located in the Neumarkt area of the city center of Osnabrück. The revitalization of Neumarkt is regarded as one of the most prestigious projects undertaken by the city authorities.

It will be the first shopping center of its kind in the city due to the fact that the Osnabrückers shop in smaller, local boutiques, with the exception of fashion chains such as H&M, P&C, Galeria Kaufhof, L+T, and C&A. The building will span a total of three levels and cover a sales area of 16,500 square meters around the Neumarkt and Johannisstrasse areas.

Paul-Eric Perchaud is Director of Operations Germany of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. Image: URW

“In collaboration with the city and the existing retail trade, we will create a lively and eventful location that will attract residents of Osnabrück as well as people from the surrounding area to the city center, thereby increasing its long-term appeal. Oskar, as a central hub of the city center, will connect Neumarkt with the university, the shopping streets and the newly planned hotels and gastronomy in immediate vicinity in a sensible way,” recently explained Paul-Eric Perchaud, Director of Operations Germany of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. He explains the details of the project in the following ACROSS interview.

ACROSS: How much will the execution of the project cost?

Paul-Eric Perchaud: “In total, the development of Oskar will cost approximately 130 million euros.”

ACROSS: When is construction scheduled to begin?

Paul-Eric Perchaud: “We are diligently working on the execution of the project, not least to keep the construction time as short as possible, which is also in the interest of the city of Osnabrück as well as its local residents. The fact that we submitted the extremely complex and extensive building application several weeks prior to the July 2018 deadline is clear evidence of this point. As things currently stand, construction work is scheduled to begin in the first half of 2019.”

ACROSS: When do you plan to open Oskar?

Paul-Eric Perchaud: “According to the current state of planning, we are aiming for the opening of the center in 2020/2021.”

ACROSS: What will the new shopping center look like?

Paul-Eric Perchaud: “Our plans for “Oskar” include a three-level center with external facades reminiscent of nested showcases. The iconic design is intended to arouse the curiosity of passers-by and inspire them to visit the center. Strikingly designed entrance areas are meant to promote exchange with the urban environment. Inside, visitors can expect a modern, open design and a comfortable, well-lit atmosphere. The particularly lofty fronts and striking facades of the shops on the first floor create an extraordinary sense of space.”

“Oskar”: Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield plans to combine brick-and-mortar shopping concepts with digital offerings at its new center. Image: URW

ACROSS: What kinds of offers can be found at “Oskar”?

Paul-Eric Perchaud: “We would like to develop Oskar into one of the central meeting places in Osnabrück, for inhabitants of and visitors to the city, for friends and families, for colleagues, and for anyone who wishes to meet new people. We are, therefore, planning an attractive Food & Beverage area with a wide variety of offers. In addition, our plans do not envision a classic department store, but a place where people can meet and spend their free time – like a social meeting place. As far as retail is concerned, “Oskar” will combine brick-and-mortar shopping concepts with digital offers. We will benefit from the creativity and know-how of our entire company as well as our long-standing partnerships with retailers throughout Europe and the rest of the world.”

ACROSS: How are negotiations with potential tenants progressing?

Paul-Eric Perchaud: “The market response has been extremely positive. Our activities are currently primarily focused on anchor leases. These consist of rental spaces of more than 500 square meters. We have already signed contracts with a number of top brands. We are in intensive and successful negotiations with other interested parties. We will inform the public in due course regarding the brands that will be featured at “Oscar”.”

ACROSS: How many new jobs will be created at “Oskar”?

Paul-Eric Perchaud: “According to current estimates, the project is expected to create more than 800 new jobs within Osnabrück. Including all indirect effects, for example, related to suppliers, up to 1,500 new jobs could be created.”

ACROSS: As part of “Better Places 2030”, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has published its own environmental strategy. Will this also be important for “Oskar”?

Paul-Eric Perchaud: ““Better Places 2030” is more than just an environmental strategy: It embodies a comprehensive way of thinking, the implementation of which is both very important to us as well as firmly anchored in our corporate strategy. The strategy also includes our responsibility for the local environments of our projects – for example, via the creation of jobs and training positions. We will soon define exactly what the implementation in Osnabrück will look like and which elements of the strategy we would like to implement. For example, a large number of bicycle parking spaces and charging stations for electric vehicles will play a role in the planning of Oskar. In any event, “Better Places 2030” will also prove to be an integral aspect.”

Image: URW
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