‘We would like to enter into a dialogue with the board of the homeowners’ association of The Gustav in mid-September’, confirmed Eunice Koekkoek, spokesperson for McDonald’s Netherlands. ‘To get to know them and hopefully address some of their concerns. Our experience is that we can usually work things out together, by listening and respecting each other’s perspectives.’
Residents have been trying to contact the owner of the ground floor of the residential complex, IEF Real Estate Services, for some time, but so far without success. ‘It has been difficult to contact us this summer, that’s true, and we’re sorry about that’, said Parham Jadidi on behalf of IEF. ‘We are a small company and we were on vacation. It certainly wasn’t deliberate. Of course, we’re concerned that some residents would not welcome the arrival of McDonald’s in the building. But actually, we’ve also been hearing from residents and people who work in Zuidas who have responded very positively.’
Back in 2012, when almost nobody lived in Zuidas and the plans for the area were being drawn up, the city council approved the zoning plan for this area south of Mahlerlaan. According to that plan, ‘category 1 hospitality’ is permitted. That could mean a business such as a delicatessen, ice cream parlour, restaurant or fast-food outlet. Eight years later, this part of Zuidas has now been built and, obviously, along with the new residents came new opinions.
The Gustav building is one of the most recently completed residential complexes, and the search is still on for an occupant for the ground floor. The arrival of McDonald’s has met with resistance, and not only from residents of The Gustav. ‘I’d rather see a greengrocer or fishmonger. A business that would help make this a nice area to live in’, commented Katja Mali, who lives in the Intermezzo apartment complex. ‘At the moment, the media are all claiming that that people who live in Zuidas are all snobs who can’t bear to have a fast-food restaurant in the area. But I don’t see myself like that. I have nothing against McDonald’s – I love their milkshakes – but I don’t think this is a suitable location for them because this is where most of the people in Zuidas live. It’s just starting to become a nice place to live, now that we have the bakery Noé, the new optician’s XO Optics and Leonidas shop, for example. What we need is more small retailers.’
‘A missed opportunity’
Jelle Westervaarder agrees. He lives in The Gustav building, above the planned McDonald’s. ‘If the McDonald’s was moved to a different place in Zuidas, underneath an office building, I would have less of a problem with it. But here, in a residential area? McDonald’s restaurants usually stay open late, until 3 a.m. at weekends and until 1 a.m. on weekdays. That wouldn’t be a problem in an area with a lot of nightlife or a commercial zone, but here it would be a problem. It’s quiet here in the evenings and at the weekend, and we’d like to keep it that way.’ Jelle thinks it’s a shame that IEF Real Estate Services did not respond to his attempts to contact them. ‘It’s a missed opportunity. I’m sure there must be more appropriate businesses that would like to move in at this location. HEMA, for example, would be very welcome. Or a hospitality business that provides a service for local residents, makes a positive contribution and helps create a sense of community.’