The Moomins Meet a Real-Estate Developer, and Outrage Ensues – The New York Times
As part of a proposal submitted to Helsinki City Council this year, a real-estate developer, NREP, offered Moomin Characters rental space for its offices and art collection as part of a bid to develop Lapinlahti, a neoclassical building that was once Finland’s first psychiatric hospital.
Joonas Lemstrom, a director at NREP, said in a statement that the Lapinlahti redevelopment was “a flagship project” in the company’s strategy for urban development. “NREP is not in the project to maximize profit, but to develop a unique urban environment that people living in Helsinki and travelers to can enjoy,” he said. “The goal of our proposal is to open a green open oasis of health, well-being and culture to everyone.”
In May, as public pressure mounted, the city’s urban environment committee voted against the sale. In a surprise countermove, Helsinki’s mayor, Jan Vapaavuori, announced he would take the decision to the city board for review — a rare use of mayoral prerogative. The board will consider the proposal on Monday.
Mr. Wahlbeck, the mental-health association director, said the mayor’s response “shows the strong influence of international real-estate investors on urban planning and some political decision makers, even in a relatively noncorrupt society such as Finland.” Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Vapaavuori declined to comment for this article and did not reply to emailed questions.
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