Nearly 15% more vacancy in Zeist by developing new municipal office


Building for vacancy
Where there is a nationwide stop to the development of new office locations to reduce vacancy and to prevent impoverishment of older buildings, the municipality of Zeist does not hesitate – under Mayor Koos Janssen – to develop a new municipal office. The municipality of Zeist rather spends EUR 20 million of public money and adds mercilessly about 4,400 sqm of vacancy to the already high office vacancy rate in Zeist.


In collaboration with developer Kondor Wessels, the municipality will expand the town hall at Het Rond with a new municipal office. The municipal departments which are currently located just 50 meters away in the building at the Slotlaan 20, will be accomodated in this extension. This includes the public hall of the municipality of Zeist. PingProperties is an investment management organization with major interests at the Dutch office market and owner of the future almost empty building at the Slotlaan 20.


Not only because of the vacancy in the office market the new development is questionable. The municipality is apparently prepared to sacrifice the most exclusive local historical sight for the realization of a new municipal office. As per the building scheme, the characteristic city hall at Het Rond will be fully enclosed by a solid-looking modern block of buildings. Also between Het Rond, the 1st Dorpsstraat and the Walkartpark 100 residential properties will be build, plus an underground parking garage with 200 parking places. This significant housing program will be realized purely to finance the new municipal office. It is clear that the assumptions with regard to the residential development applied in 2008/2009 are no longer applicable in the poor housing market of this moment. It hardly needs saying that the appearance of this part of Zeist will undergo a huge change. Of course, tastes differ, but for such a major change in the character, appearance and perception of the most characteristic piece of Zeist weighty arguments should be invoked.


Fully informed?
In the autumn of 2009 PingProperties presented plans to the aldermen of that time, Gudde and Berkhout, to redevelop the building at Slotlaan 20, because the building at the Slotlaan offers more than enough room for the municipality. If the municipality would decide to stay in this building the owner is willing to invest substantially in the building. PingProperties made it clear to the aldermen that the proposed redevelopment of the Slotlaan 20 could be done ‘budget neutral’ for the municipality. The mayor and municipal executives however, indicated in 2009 that they were not directly interested in the proposed redevelopment of the Slotlaan 20. PingProperties therefore wonders whether the municipal building committee, the National Monument Commission but also the City Council and the public were informed of this excellent alternative to the drastic new building at Het Rond. If authorities and the public want to make a good judgement, openness would be required in this matter.


When the conduct of the municipality of Zeist is followed and when looking at the preliminary discussions with the Local and National Monument Commission it may be questioned whether the municipality, in exercising its public functions relating to the local planning, can keep enough distance from the interest the municipality has in realizing its new municipal office.

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