The new ‘Meilenwerk Zurich’ looks sets to be a paradise for classic car enthusiasts when it opens in 2013. And Classic Driver is among the first to see the project in its early stages...
The 28m-euro development on the shores of Lake Zurich – a collaboration between Meilenwerk AG and the Swiss real estate company Mobimo AG – will run along the lines of a shopping centre, with some 35 companies and 120 staff all focused on the buying, selling, restoration and servicing of classic cars, along with club areas and restaurants for eating and meeting. Meilenwerk was originally the idea of Martin Halder, back in 1998, who has since overseen the development of similar projects in Berlin (2003), Düsseldorf (2006) and Stuttgart (2009). The Zurich project will be the largest ‘Meilenwerk’ – and the first outside Germany.
The main Meilenwerk building is a staggering size: 230 metres long, five storeys high, with a full 20,000 square feet of floor space. The Swiss are known for their understatement, such as “There are worse sites,” to describe the outstanding location of the Meilenwerk in Horgen, just a few minutes’ drive from Zurich city centre. From inside the building there are spectacular panoramic views across the sparkling surface of the lake. “We are very pleased with the new site,” admits Martin Halder.
While Mobimo AG owns the land, Meilenwerk AG will be responsible for the conceptual development, and will remain as the tenants and property managers for at least 20 years – a long-term partnership that is key to the project’s success. The interior of the building, meanwhile, will be designed by the Swiss-based architect Sara Spiro.
Some 28 million euros will be invested in the squeaky-clean industrial building within the next two years and, looking at the budget in its entirety, this is likely to be the largest financial classic car project in Europe.
“The ‘Meilenwerke’ are centres of attraction that cater to the emotional needs of today’s lovers of classic, collectors' and premium cars,” says Martin Halder. “They reflect a certain view on life.” Halder emphasises that by selecting companies who have already established a good reputation in the classic car world, the Meilenwerk sets itself apart from other developments of this sort. “Years of experience and close ties with the car scene help us select the best companies,” he says.
On one floor of the Meilenwerk we take a short drive in the Rolls-Royce we remember from the Hamburg-Berlin Klassik; arriving in a separate area, we jump into an aqua blue Maserati Sebring and float upwards to the next level, almost silently, in a ten-ton lift. “The heavy-duty lifts are an important part of the building plan,” explains Halder, “but there will also be large doorways and ramps connecting each level.”
As for the tenants taking space in this vast building, 60 per cent of the floor space has already been reserved. Halder doesn’t yet want to name names, but he is confident that there will be no shortage of companies keen to move here. There will also be around 150 individual storage areas for private owners to house their vehicles. “Another highlight will be a 100-room designer hotel within the building,” he adds.