Alex Römer has been working for HIAG as a site developer for 13 years and is responsible for managing the development processes of his assigned sites.
Describe your job at HIAG: What are you responsible for? What are your tasks?
Development usually begins with the development of a vision for a particular location. The following questions take centre stage: What mix of uses is sustainable and optimal in the long term? Who are the potential interested parties and what needs do they have to be successful at the location? What interests do the stakeholders represent and how can they be involved in the development of the vision? The next step is to create the legal framework to make the vision a reality. This can mean carrying out a partial zoning plan revision or a study commission, or developing a design plan. It is also important to create a place that is attractive to people and companies. Communication and positioning play a decisive role here. The history of a site can often support this: An exciting past of an area offers the opportunity to build on this with the positioning for the future. Historic buildings can contribute to this as an identity-forming element. Ultimately, it is also about finding users for a site - a basic prerequisite for the development of a project. With a development, we want to create added value for everyone involved, for the local communities, the users and us as owners.
What do you particularly like about your work at HIAG?
I particularly like the fact that our entrepreneurial DNA from our own industrial past is still very much in evidence and that we are close to the "Swiss workplace". The short decision-making channels make day-to-day work pleasant and efficient. In site development, I appreciate the variety of topics that make my day-to-day work very exciting: from legal and economic aspects to urban planning, architecture and communication, right through to managing specialists of all kinds. In development, we are generalists: we have to understand enough about a lot of topics so that we can bring in the right specialists at the right time. Last but not least, it is also a great pleasure to see projects that have been planned over many years finally realised in reality.
What are the biggest challenges in your day-to-day work?
Site developments are usually major changes for a neighbourhood. Such processes need to be well planned and accompanied, otherwise resistance can arise. Stakeholder management is a central and demanding task today. Participatory processes have become indispensable. Another major challenge today is the tension between legal certainty and the flexibility of a planning instrument. On the one hand, we want as much legal certainty as possible for the planning of a site and, on the other hand, we naturally want to remain as flexible as possible in order to be able to respond to the needs of interested parties. It is important to find a healthy balance.