The Frisian capital rivals Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and the Hague for the most conversions
Translated by Thomas Ansell
As reported by the Omrop Fyrslân, the housing shortage in Leeuwarden is causing the re-building of office buildings into quick-fix apartments. The ex-Aegon insurance building opposite Leeuwarden station is perhaps the most visible example of this, and was recently converted into nearly 500 apartments (each of around 19 square metres) for students and graduates.
The office buildings aren’t just being converted into cheaper apartments, with the old UWV building (the Roemergebouw) and at Amicitia on the Wirdumerdijk being converted into pricier dwellings.
“Amiticia was one of the ugliest buildings in the city, but it’s now been turned into a beautiful complex with two shops, parking, and twelve luxury apartments”, says Hendrik Fokkema, an estate agent. The Amicitia complex was completed in 2017, with the penthouse going on sale for 1.28 million euros.
The Gemeente Leeuwarden seems to be happy with the conversion of the empty buildings, as it increases the livability of the city. Wethouder Hein de Haan (PvdA): “we have a two-sided task in Leeuwarden, with people that are now working differently through digitalization, and businesses that need more room too. And on top of that we require 7,000 homes, as well. If we combine that, we can resolve two problems at once. That would be really good for the city.”
Both Fokkema and De Haan emphasise that the method of converting offices into apartments is convenient, too. The buildings already exist, for one thing, and are all located quite close to the city centre; making them suitable for students, too. However despite the Gemeente’s positivity about the technique, it is still keeping control of the planning permission: not every building can simply be converted.
De Haan suggests that more buildings could be in for the treatment, too: “we’re looking, for example, at the KPN-building that is empty and could be a hotel and apartments. The old De Friesland insurance building is also very suited to becoming homes.”