Parkhaus Saanen Finally Open for Business
Arthur Reuteler, Heinz Brand and Manfred Weilguni celebrate the Parkhaus’ grand opening.
They say good things come to those who wait. They also say good things come in threes. For Saanen, this is doubly true.
The village celebrated the opening of its new Parkhaus, an underground parking garage, on October 8, 2013. It was the third step in a three-part transformation plan for Saanen. In the summer of 2010, the Saanen bypass was opened, which diverted through traffic through a tunnel. The main street was then closed to cars, making it a safe, traffic-free pedestrian zone.
A parking garage fit for a king
Boasting more than one hundred public parking places, the Parkhaus also contains private spaces that may be rented monthly or yearly. Drivers will appreciate their large width, at 2.6 metres each, and an overhead clearance of 2.55 metres, perfect for larger SUVs and the region’s ubiquitous Range Rovers. The Parkhaus is undoubtedly one of the biggest construction projects in Saanen’s history. Approximately 15,000m3 of land was excavated and 3500 tonnes of reinforced concrete were used for the garage. Costs amounted to a whopping 14.3 million francs, but this was fed back into the local economy – 80% of the contractors were from the Saanenland. The big day Opening festivities drew a crowd of hundreds to the village.
Emotions ran high as Heinz Brand, Gemeinderat (City Councilman), performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony with tears in his eyes. But Brand was just one of the project’s planners who were moved by the opening.
“I have been waiting eight years, four months and thirteen days for this moment,” says Aldo Kropf, Gemeindepräsident (City Council President), recalling the day the council approved the initial motion to create more public parking.
Still to come
As of opening day, there were still a few finishing touches left to put on the Parkhaus. The restrooms, while functional, were awaiting partitions between the toilets. The display cases and windows had not yet been filled, but were offered to the merchants of Saanen at a reduced rate for the first six months. This was to make up for some of the inconvenience they suffered due to the two years construction time. But that’s not all for the ambitious village of Saanen. The next project includes a further transformation of the main street into a true public space, replete with cobblestones, fountains and greenery. Small-town shoppers couldn’t ask for more