Rotterdam’s inner city shopping street “Lijnbaan”, 1953

Bernd Upmeyer spoke on behalf of MONU with Magriet Smit. Magriet Smit is a real estate developer for a Rotterdam-based company.

Bernd Upmeyer: How would you define a good district to invest in in a city? Which are the bad ones? How do you distinguish between them?
Magriet Smit: There are always two important arguments. On the one hand there is the financial situation of an area and on the other there are the people, our clients, who live there. We start or continue a project if we can make a profit, or if the financial loss is accepted as a risk. Areas also change from time to time, can become better or deteriorate.

BU: How could you not define a good or bad location in Rotterdam?
MS: The strange thing in Rotterdam is for example that the inner city doesn’t have a much value if you compare it with other Dutch cities. Usually, big cities always see the highest prices in the centres. That’s not the case in Rotterdam.

BU: Why is that?
MS: I think this is mainly because there is not so much housing in the inner city. The housing density is really low compared to other city centres. But another reason is that there is a lot of retail in the centre.

BU: You are not interested in retail?
MS: Sometimes we also invest in retail, but it really is a completely other way of thinking. We develop mainly housing, care institutions, and schools.

BU: Why are you not entering other fields too?
MS: There is of course the minister of VROM, who says what we are allowed and not allowed to do. Although we manage ourselves as a social housing corporation with our own money, we are still dependent on the lower interest rates that are given to us for loans. And the minister controls those rates and controls therefore also our business. Due to the current financial crisis, it is very difficult to increase the value of property as well. The control of the state on the development activities of housing corporations is an agreement made during the privatisation of the corporations in the nineties…

…the complete interview was published in MONU #12 on the topic of Real Urbanism on January 26, 2010.

Title: Life without Architects
Project: Interview with Magriet Smit
Date: January 2010
Type: Commissioned interview
Topic: Real Urbanism
Organizer: MONU
Status: Published
Publications: MONU #12, P.62-65
Interviewer: Bernd Upmeyer