Heikki Niemi plans the future of student housing as Head of the Real Estate Unit

Heikki Niemi has started as Head of AYY’s Real Estate Unit at the beginning of August. He is the head of the employees at the Real Estate Unit and a member of the management team. His main duty is to promote issues related to current real estates and implement a longer-term investment plan with the real estate team.
Heikki Niemi kiinteistöyksikön päällikkö

Heikki was already interested in the developing area of Otaniemi and the diversity of the work when he applied for the position. “In the real estate field, we have watched with interest what is happening in the real estate field in the academic community.” As a result of the university reform, the former state-owned properties have been transferred to the universities. Regarding Aalto, there have been changes as teaching has focused on Otaniemi. In addition, the fast-developing areas of Keilaniemi and Tapiola are close by. “The area will become a centre which is the size of a small city. This is an interesting whole from the real estate perspective,” Heikki sums up his motivation. “Having been in the field for a long time, I am already familiar with many current interest groups and partners.”

A lot to learn from the student union operations

As a work community, Heikki describes AYY as small and compact. Heikki’s work history also has effect on his description. Before AYY, he worked in real estate development and maintenance at Ilmarinen, which has more than 700 employees. He has previous experience in condition assessment, renovation and various real estate projects. “I certainly have a lot to learn about new construction and the student union world in general,” says Heikki.

He is surprised at how much the Student Union does. “On some days, the park (Alvari Square) is full of display stands and activities. Occasionally, I get invitations to student parties by email,” he laughs. “The work has started by outlining the current situation. Next, I should be able to predict what will happen in the next ten, twenty and even fifty years,” Heikki describes the first weeks in his new job.

In his spare time, Heikki’s next goal is 1.5 months away, when he plans to run a marathon. In addition to fishing, mushroom picking and spending time at his summer cottage, he has started to play the guitar.

Planning of new student housing

AYY’s Real Estate Strategy outlines that AYY will build more than 1,000 new student apartments by 2026. AYY plans to build apartments along Otakaari and Miestentie, for example. “The most important aspect of my job is to plan what is being built and where, and how to maintain the current property stock,” says Heikki. With his team, they also define sustainability goals for real estates.

“The next step is to clarify zoning issues, consider what kind of apartments and facilities are needed and do all the background work in order to start the construction eventually.” However, Heikki points out that everything happens quite slowly in the real estate field, and matters are always thought through for at least ten years. Thus, new projects are not yet being completed.

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