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Kotka Old Port

Go-ahead for Finland’s first Waterfront Designer Outlet Village: the Kotka Old Port

Media release.
Published: 16-Jul-2015 10:33 am
Publisher: Kotka Old Port

First, jazz came ashore to Finland via the Kotka Port. Now, Finland’s first Waterfront Designer Outlet Village has been given the go-ahead by the City Council of Kotka. The City of Kotka is ideally located between Helsinki and St Petersburg, just 75 minutes drive from Helsinki.

The City Council of Kotka has unanimously approved the City plan and the concept for Kotka Old Port. After the Council’s decision on Friday, the construction process can now go ahead this year.

This initial phase of the project comprises 100 outlet stores and is planned for completion in the early summer of 2017, in time for the Tall Ships Race. When completed Kotka Old Port will contain over 200 outlet stores, including a wide range of fashion, sportswear and lifestyle brands. The leasing process has now commenced and initial feedback from target brands has been very positive.

Melanie Taylor, Head of Leasing at Milligan, development partner, said, “What the brands are responding well to is the fact that it will be a leisure destination as well as an outlet.”

Kotka Old Port will also include two new hotels, restaurants, museums, event arenas and apartments as well as a marina in the popular boating hub of the Gulf of Finland, in the Baltic Sea, as well as terminals for ferries and cruise ships. The historical harbour area at the heart of the city will transform into an ideal setting to spend time and enjoy shopping with the whole family.

The Designer Outlet Village is almost entirely enclosed allowing for a comfortable all year round experience. Located on the waterfront, the total size of the project is 20 hectares, which makes Kotka Old Port an entirely unique outlet destination with nothing comparable in Finland.

Recent research by Taloustutkimus, the leading research company in Finland, shows that Kotka Old Port has remarkable potential to become the most attractive and commercially viable destination for an outlet scheme in Finland. According to the research, there is significant customer appetite in Southern Finland for a high-end outlet.

”This concept, that is still missing in Finland”, remarks Adrienne Jones, Head of Research at Milligan, development partner of the project. Kotka has always been associated with the sea and summer, as well as being “pretty”, “unique” and ”accessible”. Almost all the focus group respondents had experiences of outlets abroad and often visited them when travelling to destinations such as in Tallinn, Stockholm, Vienna and Berlin.

Excellent location

“The Kotka Old Port plan is a rare opportunity to establish a major waterfront outlet and visitors´ destination hub within walking distance of everything in town”, says Cameron Sawyer, Chairman of GVA Sawyer, the developer of the Kotka Old Port project.

Next to Kotka Old Port, there is already the Vellamo, the award-winning National Maritime Museum, with its architecturally distinctive landmark building and its own lively culture, entertainment and tourist attractions.

Kotka is strategically located; between the Helsinki Metropolitan area (130 km) and St Petersburg (270 km). It can easily be reached along the recently upgraded Highway E18, the motorway from Russia through densely populated Southern Finland. The Finnish people have one of the highest rates of car ownership in Europe and are used to driving long distances for shopping and recreation.

Helsinki International Airport is 60 minutes from Kotka. It is by far the fastest growing airport in Finland and is the gateway to Europe from Asia, handling 13 million passengers annually, 1.8 million from Asia. (Source: Finavia 2014). Local and regional government plan to invest in new ferry and cruise terminal facilities for the cruise liners which are scheduled for Summer 2016 and for ferry services planned to run between St Petersburg and Kotka.

1.7 million Finns live within Greater Helsinki and a 90-minute drive of Kotka (CACI); the Greater St Petersburg area has more than 5 million inhabitants with 4.4 million Russians cross into Finland at the South East border stations in 2013 – only 40 minutes drive from Kotka. (Source: Tak Border survey)

Destination Kotka

Kotka’s main harbour operations are now conducted in the new deep-water harbour, which makes Kotka Old Port a perfect location for this major new development.

The port has a rich 130-year history with colourful maritime and sailing traditions. Through decades, it has been the most important export harbour of the Finnish forest industries which made Kotka Finland´s most international maritime city.

Kotka Old Port will not just be about shopping. It will be an exciting destination for the whole family: in the very vicinity to Kotka Old Port the city hosts numerous activities at the Aquarium House Maretarium, and great sports events and festivals. Kotka’s beautiful public gardens have made the city gardener Heikki Laaksonen a national celebrity.

The Kotka region boasts outstanding natural landscapes with sea, islands and rapids. It is renowned for cruising and sailing in the archipelago. The marina will have up to 120 berths, capable of accommodating boats up to 25m in length, and two of 60m.

Every July, Kotka celebrates its maritime heritage and culture with the Kotka Maritime Festival (Meripäivät). This second biggest festival event in Finland, established in 1964, attracts more than 200,000 visitors annually.

“In 2017, simultaneously with the completion of the first phase of Kotka Old Port and on the 100th anniversary of the independence of Finland, Kotka will host the great International Tall Ships Race”, proudly tells Henry Lindelöf, the First Mayor of Kotka.

Perfect match of international expertise

The project brings together key developers in the outlet industry, including John Milligan, Gerald Parkes, Cameron Sawyer and Byrne Murphy, with their vast experience in premium outlet projects in France, Italy, UK, Spain and Russia.

The Mayor and the whole city administration with all key political decision-makers effectively support the Kotka Old Port project. The city is collaborating with a highly experienced international outlet development team:

Milligan, development partner
John Milligan CEO at Milligan, founded the specialist retail development company in 2002. At the heart of the Milligan philosophy is a passion and drive to create places where people are inspired to shop. Every place it creates is a one-off. Each project is conceived, designed and delivered by focusing on the needs and desires of the people who will visit, use and enjoy the space.

From 1983 to 2002, John was an International Director at Jones Lang LaSalle. He set up and led the company’s European retail group which consisted of over 250 people advising clients on 2.5 million square metres of shopping centre space. He was also chairman of the JLL global retail group. John worked for 10 years alongside McArthurGlen to introduce American style outlet centres into Europe as well as helping to bring Costco and Starbucks to the UK.


GVA Sawyer, the lead developer of the Kotka Old Port project, Russia
GVA Sawyer, founded in 1993, a member of GVA Worldwide. GVA Sawyer is the developer of the first outlet mall in Russia, Fashion House Moscow, and has nearly 20 years of experience developing various projects in Moscow, St Petersburg and the Russian regions. These include high-profile projects such as the former headquarters of the United Nations in Russia in Moscow. Two GVA Sawyer projects have been the subject of Harvard Business School cases.


Kitebrook Partners, property development and investment expert, US
Byrne Murphy, Kitebrook’s founding partner, brought outlet shopping to Europe more than 20 years ago. He is the author of the book “Le Deal” which tells the story of his adventures building the first outlet mall in Europe and bringing McArthurGlen outlet centres to the European market. Murphy’s former company McArthurGlen is the dominant outlet mall operator in Europe with 20 designer outlets in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK.


DEA Real Estate Advisor, Italy
DEA is an independent Company leader in the real estate field that offers services of strategic advisory, retail investment and intermediation, especially focused on luxury. The Company has an internationally experienced team of professionals that work proficiently both in Italy and abroad. DEA’s main clients are leading developers and high end/premium brands (both Italian and international). The team is committed in some important projects of retail development in foreign countries such as Finland, Italy, Spain, the UAE and China. The total GLA of the projects DEA is currently involved reaches approx. 400.000 sq/m.

Luca de Ambrosis Ortigara, Founder and Managing Partner at DEA, sits in the Value Retail management board as European Executive Director. Luca was previously MD at McArthurGlen Italia and European Head of Leasing at McArthurGlen, Head of the Italian Retail Department at Cushman & Wakefield and Director of the Real Estate Services at Pirelli Real Estate.

PCPE Property Capital Partners Europe, real estate investment manager and financier, UK
Gerald Parkes, one of Europe’s most prominent real estate investment managers and financiers. He was Head of European Real Estate Private Equity at Lehman Brothers and prior to that he was the CEO of Invesco’s European Real Estate Group. Parkes has advised on multiple billions of retail real estate development and investment. He was the initiator of the Bluewater Shopping Centre in the UK and head of retail planning.


AHR architectural practices, UK
AHR is one of Europe’s largest practices in outlet village architecture and has evolved into an international business encompassing 450 staff in 12 offices. Good design is driven by their collective passion to explore the art of what is possible, irrespective of a project’s size or complexity. AHR has significant expertise in designing multi-layered retail environments which provide social, commercial and recreational opportunities for a mix of user groups and communities.


DTZ Finland Oy, Finland

DTZ debuted as a top three global commercial real estate services company. The Group has more than 28,000 employees operating across more than 260 offices in 50 countries and $63 billion in transaction volume. DTZ provides property management for 171 million square meters, and facilities management for 124 million square meters.




For further information please contact

Matti Saarinen, Kreab Helsinki
matti.saarinen@kreab.com tel: +358 40 50 50 667

Jan Erola, Kreab Helsinki
jan.erola@kreab.com tel: +358 40 506 46 12

Samantha Robinson, Milligan
Samantha@milliganretail.com tel: +44 207 297 43 00

Cameron Sawyer, GVA Sawyer
CSawyer@gvasawyer.com tel: +7 903 723 4816



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