5 questions to Beat Pahud, general project manager for "The Circle"
This section presents a person who gets things moving at Zurich Airport. Beat Pahud is the general project manager for "The Circle", probably the largest real estate development in Switzerland.
Since February of this year you have been responsible for "The Circle", one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, real estate development projects in Switzerland. What do you think makes "The Circle" so unique?
It's the combination of location and the wide-ranging mix on offer: Zurich Airport itself will become a destination, an Airport City. The location with all the amenities of our high-quality airport, hotels, showrooms and the park will offer visitors and those working at "The Circle" a totally unique quality experience. Where else would you find hotels, a conference centre, cultural and culinary offerings, a health centre, showrooms of well-known brands and a leafy green park this close together and easy to reach by any mode of transport?
What's the current state of play with the building project?
A number of new specialists have now joined the project team. Planning for the construction project is proceeding at full speed. A general planning team, comprising around 80 people, is working to complete the detailed plans by the end of September 2014. This includes everything from the design of the frontage and the development of the various modules right through to the detailed layouts of the hotel rooms. The building project phase will be completed in the autumn of this year.
Tenants have been found for a third of the space already. What still needs to be done in this area?
We have already secured one major element – the hotel side – with our partner Hyatt, who will operate the two big hotels and the conference centre. Likewise, the university healthcare centre, which is ideally suited to us, has also taken us a big step forward. We are now seeking to convince other prestigious prospective tenants for our office premises and the Brands & Dialogue module, i.e. the prominent spaces for showrooms and brand dialogue, of the unique opportunity this project presents. We are currently conducting positive discussions with potential tenants. The involvement of our co-investor Swiss Life AG has given us an additional boost in these discussions. Even before the ground-breaking ceremony, we want to increase the occupancy percentage and ensure the economic viability of the project.
What does the schedule look like now? When will construction begin and when do you expect to celebrate the opening?
We will start removing the existing infrastructure and commence the initial civil engineering works at the beginning of 2015. Work on constructing the actual buildings will then begin in the autumn of 2015. If everything goes to plan – and with a project of this size it's not possible to predict to the exact month – we reckon on tenants being able to move in during a first phase in 2018.
You're very passionate about the unique nature of the location and the quality experience that "The Circle" is set to bring. But until that's up and running, what's your favourite place at Zurich Airport?
I enjoy a rare lunch break now and then on the Butzenbüel hill. The combination is unique: I can enjoy watching the hustle and bustle of the airport on the ground and in the air while relaxing in an oasis of green. "The Circle" is already beckoning.