September 2019

Transformation creates opportunity real estate

The increased demand for (inner-city) housing and little supply has led to high pressure on the housing market in recent years. Since the free buildable space in many inner cities is scarce and the zoning plan is fixed for a period of 10 years, the possibilities with regard to construction of new buildings are in many cases limited.

One of the trends in recent years has been real estate transformation. This includes converting office, retail or commercial space to another function, in most cases a residential function. If a transformation project fits within the zoning plan, it creates a number of opportunities, including less vacancy and a greater supply of housing. This article discusses how we as Van der Vorm Vastgoed Groep create sustainable, relevant value through transformations within our real estate portfolio.

Transformation against vacancy

From offices and schools to commercial buildings and social real estate, the total vacancy rate in real estate in the Netherlands in 2018 was almost 30 million m² (Landelijke Monitor Leegstand 2017 and 2018 - Central Bureau of Statistics, 2019). Some of the real estate properties that constitute this vacancy are no longer leased for their original function and will not be in the future. This, for example, because the property does not meet the current requirements and wishes of the user or because the location of the object is not attractive enough. In this case there is vacancy without opportunity. Against this vacancy there is an increasing demand for housing in many cities. Transforming (long-term) vacant properties meets the growing housing demand and reduces the vacancy rate.

Transformation as part of sustainability

The Netherlands, along with 194 other countries, is on the eve of major changes: already during the Paris Climate Summit in 2015 it was established that drastic adjustments are needed in many areas to prevent global warming to a certain degree. Also during this summit, agreements were made with all participating countries that would limit the increase in temperature by 2050 to 2 degrees, preferably even 1.5. However, at the 2018 Climate Summit in Katowice, it was determined that with our current CO2 emissions, we are headed for a warming of 3 degrees by 2050. If we all want to move toward a more sustainable, livable world, drastic measures must be taken. Transformations can play an important part in this as a sustainable alternative to new construction, avoiding the waste of raw materials and nature as much as possible.

Sustainable living with transformation

An outline of the current situation in the Netherlands regarding the sustainability of our real estate:

7 million homes and 1 million buildings are under-insulated and the vast majority of these properties are heated by natural gas.(Climate Agreement Central Government, 2019) In the ideal situation, all of these homes and buildings are well insulated and these properties are heated with renewable energy while using clean electricity, or even generated. Transformation of these properties is the most cost-effective way to move toward the ideal situation.

The transition from natural gas to natural gas-free, and from poorly insulated to well-insulated has begun: by 2050, the Netherlands must be virtually climate-neutral in order to comply with the aforementioned Climate Agreement. To achieve this, the qualitative requirements of buildings such as homes, offices, shopping centers and commercial buildings must be tightened. A reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions are essential when it comes to achieving the Accord's goals.

The social added value of successful transformation

Transformation projects can be of great social value. Transformations of shopping centers, for example, are designed and executed in such a way that, after the conversion, the object better fulfills its social function. In addition, transformation projects counteract vacancy and therefore direct loss of value due to the non-return of the invested capital in these buildings. Attrition of both the objects and the surrounding environment (indirect loss of value), sometimes even resulting in a sense of insecurity and dissatisfaction, is also countered.

In order to meet the growing housing demand within many cities, as well as prevent negative effects from (long-term) vacancy, it is important to transform based on the existing demand for real estate from a holistic approach. In this way, transformations match the way future users want to live, as well as current changes in the world in terms of sustainability.

Opportunities for transformation projects increase

Because proven successful transformations demonstrate that shifting the function of real estate contributes to solutions for various issues, opportunities in the field of real estate transformations have increased significantly in recent years. This is due in part to changing market demand and the changing attitude of municipalities and banks toward transformations.

Transformations in development

We are currently in the midst of transforming several properties in our portfolio. For example, a number of office properties are being transformed into housing and several shopping centers are being revitalized with an eye toward contemporary shopping convenience.

Delft Hoog, Delft

Delft, 1975: the third tallest building in Prinsenstad, the Torenhove, is completed and put into use as an office building. The imposing tower, with a height of 83 meters and 22 floors, stands at the corner of Papsouwselaan and Martinus Nijhofflaan and offers a view of the various neighborhoods of Delft and its surroundings.

In 2016, it was decided to already transform the 1st through 9th floors into high-end apartments for young professionals. The upper floors continued to house a number of significant names in Dutch business, interspersed with several start-ups that have managed to flourish from the tower. In 2018, we decided to also transform the remaining floors into spacious, comfortable apartments. Thus, 'Delft Hoog' was created.

The actual remodeling work within the transformation project is currently underway. More information about Delft Hoog can be found on our website (or

Toren van Oud, The Hague

The iconic 'Toren van Oud' in The Hague Zorgvliet is known, among other things, for its extraordinary shape: triangular in shape. Completed in 1969, the nearly 65-meter-high tower is considered by many to be the Hofstad's first skyscraper. Designed by architect Johannes Pieter Oud, the hotel will be transformed into luxurious short-stay apartments and a pair of penthouses with panoramic views of the surrounding area. Tenants in the Toren van Oud will be provided with every convenience: gourmet services by Do Company, a gym and parking in the garage under the tower.

Transformation work has already begun. Currently, the installation of the new cladding is being completed. The transformed tower is expected to be completed in Q3 of 2019. Visit for more information.

Van der Vorm Vastgoed as an expert, reliable investor in transformations

Years of experience, thorough market knowledge and our Rotterdam no-nonsense mentality mean that we have been successfully shaping various transformation projects for decades. We invest in creating sustainable real estate with future-proof value. Follow developments within our transformation projects also on our social media channels.