Aerial view from Imatrankoski. On the left in the picture Väärätalo, on the right Napinkulma and a lot of people on the pedestrian street.
A busy summer of events is coming to Imatra.

How will the downtown area be developed this year?

24.2.2024 14:00
The development plan for the commercial center of Imatrankoski, which was completed at the turn of the year, gives direction to the joint renewal of Imatrankoski.

The task of the Elävä Imatrankoski project is to initiate the development of the commercial environment of Imatrankoski. The Imatrankoski commercial center development plan for the years 2024–2040, which guides the work, was presented to the public in January. The results of the map survey and workshops of the idea competition carried out by the project were utilized in the creation of the plan.

- The development plan shows what means, services, investments and structural changes can be used to renew the central area of ​​Imatra. A phased schedule has been presented for top projects and key measures, which is rhythmic according to the council terms, says the project manager of the Elävä Imatrankoski project Tuija Valkeapää.

This year, the development of Imatrankoski will focus on the activation of stakeholders, the development of year-round activities, financial preparations for measures of various sizes, and the content planning of flagship projects. In the spring, the focus is especially on planning short-term measures.  

- The size of important things varies, but the journey is already taking you towards a new vision and leading projects leading to it. Before Väärätalo, temporary and permanent use of the Napinkulma plot, multi-generational living, Paviljonki serving tourism and Patokortteli get up and running, the quick measures presented in the plan will be implemented, says Valkeapää.  

Teams, working groups and workshops start the work related to different topics in stages. Valkeapää says that the starting situation for the spring has been updated with an entrepreneur survey, and its results will guide the work of the spring. Acute issues of entrepreneurs are discussed together with entrepreneurs.

- During the spring, I will be around a lot of corners with different operators. For example, work related to the safety and comfort of the city center has started, and now I am meeting with the actors with whom we will solve these issues.  

The button corner is not yet dismantled

Valkeapää knows that the residents are currently particularly interested in the fate of Napinkulma and Väärätalo.

- The demolition of Napinkulma has been postponed to autumn, because the demolition site does not belong to summer street. So it is better that the building is still standing during the summer. Those responsible for cleaning also didn't want dust to disturb the restaurants' summer terraces, says Valkeapää.

- The plot after the demolition of Button Corner is in a central location, and no one knows how long the temporary use will last. That's why it has been made into its own plan that fits the overall development plan, which is in the comment round during February, continues Valkeapää.

The false house will also remain in place for the time being, but a small improvement is planned.

- The facade of Väärätalo will be improved already in the spring, but there is still tension regarding the upcoming changes, hints Valkeapää.

"It is in everyone's interest that development takes place"

The Imatrankoski development plan has been made in cooperation with several different parties, including entrepreneurs. The plan is also familiar to the chairman of Imits, an entrepreneur For Heidi Holst.

- I think the plan is good, and it deals with the right things. It's great that so many different target groups have been taken into account in the plan.

Holsti emphasizes that the development plan must be such that it can be modified and updated according to, for example, population development and urban structure. He puts the development of Väärätalo and the demolition of Napinkulma as the top of development.

- Dismantling the button corner and tidying up that area will open up the center wonderfully. Väärätalo also needs a new life. Regarding these, we have to move forward quickly. You can no longer put the brakes on these matters.

Holsti hopes that as many local entrepreneurs as possible would be utilized in both the development and implementation phases.

- It is in everyone's interest that development takes place. When planning development, you should also remember the current entrepreneurs and operations. When making demolition and construction plans, it should be taken into account how the companies next to the site can operate at the same time. For example, access routes and visibility must be maintained. I think that this matter has also been considered in the plan.

According to Valkeapää, there has been cooperation with entrepreneurs during the creation of the development plan, and this year the cooperation with entrepreneurs will be even closer. We want to develop the operating environment for entrepreneurs and make it more attractive.

- Now in the spring we are focusing on the issues and wishes of entrepreneurs, what could be done better and how we could be together more. In addition, we are looking for operators to implement both big and small things, says Valkeapää.

The chairman of Imits, Heidi Holsti, stands on the pedestrian street of Imatrankoski in winter.
The chairman of Imits, Heidi Holsti, considers it important that current entrepreneurs are also taken into account in the development of Imatrankoski. Photo: Advertising agency Dominus.


Residents are responsible for maintaining services

Restoring attractiveness to the Imatrankoski area requires cooperation between different actors, development of operating methods and monitoring of implementation.

- However, the most important players are the residents themselves. We cannot outsource our own responsibility for maintaining the services. Each of us makes choices every day that promote or reduce the vitality of the city center, notes Valkeapää.

- When something happens in Imatrankoski, there are a lot of people there. Neither the people nor the purchasing power have disappeared anywhere. I would hope that people would use the services in Imatrankoski so that the services are still here. Entrepreneurs don't come to the area to stand as empty pawns, adds Holsti.

Together, towards an experiential and active downtown area

Valkeapää and Holsti hope that active participation and participation in the development of the area will continue.

- If we want an experiential center, we need both entrepreneurs, creative industry operators, experts in digital technology, and the third sector as well. Making a plan does not mean that the city does everything or necessarily nothing. The city's task is to enable and allow, reminds Valkeapää.

Holsti sees the future of Imatrankoski as a vibrant, service-rich area with hustle and bustle all year round.

- The commercial apartments are in use, and there are various companies and services in the area. People move and entrepreneurs do business. However, there are more than 20 of us here, so a city this size should make us stay virile.

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