Ralph Steenbergen has pulled the plug on De Grote Roltrap, the pop-up mall in the former V&D department store on the Grote Markt in Groningen, due to a lack of clarity about the property’s future, says the Dagblad van het Noorden.
Translation by Thomas Ansell
Steenbergen, the man behind De Grote Roltrap (“The Big Escalator”) told Dagblad van het Noorden that the reason for ending the initiative was a lack of clarity about renting the former department store building in the future. “The lessor [CBRE] could not guarantee me a longer period, and this was the reason for most of the entrepreneurs in the building throwing in the towel”, he said.
Steenbergen went on to explain that he had lost money on the project, which proved less successful than expected. “I had hoped for more shoppers, and this project has cost me money”. The pop-up shopping centre had four or five businesses leave before the 1st January, and the building now stands mostly empty.
The large building is prominently situated on De Grote Markt and was occupied by the V&D department store chain until it declared bankruptcy in 2015: 10,000 employees lost their jobs nationwide. Around 20 of the former stores were taken over by the Canadian Hudson’s Bay Company, but the Groningen premises was not amongst these.
The building on Groningen’s Grote Markt was vacated at the beginning of 2016 and was briefly taken over by Topshelf, another department store, but it closed within a year. Steenbergen, a property entrepreneur, rented the premises from CBRE and found a handful of entrepreneurs to rent several square metres of the ground and first floors of the building. De Grote Roltrap opened on May 1st2018, for an initial run of six months and the option for a two-year lease.
According to Friso Sijbertsma of CBRE. the current owners lessors of the building, the company is in talks with a number of organisations about repurposing the space yet again into a multifunctional building, a process with calls for renovations and new property permits. One possibility for the space which has long been discussed was opening a bike parking garage, but according to municipal spokesperson Peter Duznik, that is still only being discussed.
In the meantime, the former V&D in-house restaurant La Place, located on the fourth floor, is continuing successfully. The chain of restaurants was bought from the defunct V&D group by Jumbo supermarkets, and has around 90 outlets in the Netherlands. Its Groningen branch remains stubbornly full in an otherwise empty building.