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Ernst May district

New residential area and greater quality of life for everyone in the “Ernst May district”

Preparatory studies
District: Local district:
4, 3, 11
Size of area:
100 ha
Project management:

Ms. Sabine Guttmann
fone: +49 (0)69 212 34351

Project description

The “Ernst May District” is located only a short distance from downtown, such that for the City of Frankfurt/Main the project is associated, as it were as “growth inwards”, with an opportunity to develop housing with a high level of parkland in an area close to downtown.

This way, new urgently required housing can be built. Developing the district thus helps make a positive contribution to relieving the tight housing market while avoiding the use of areas that are otherwise greenfield.

By, as planned, covering the A 661 the right conditions will also be created together with the planned green belt to improve climatic conditions and fresh air within the new quarters and in the existing districts. This is a key focus of the planning for the “Ernst May District”.

More information

Reason for planning

The City Council instructed the City Executive with its resolution § 9550 of Feb. 24, 2011, to initiate a preparatory study on a possible urban planning development measure for the “interfacing area of Bornheim & Seckbach” (SEM 3, working title “Ernst May District”).
The resolution was intended first to solve a situation that was unsatisfactory in both urban planning and landscaping terms, caused by the construction of the A 661 highway and, secondly, to reduce the noise levels caused by the A 661.

The resolution was reached on the basis of intensive preparatory work: As early as 2008 the Krebs und Kiefer planning office was commissioned to conduct a feasibility study on “Covering the A 661 in the Bornheim section”. The goal: to find possible solutions to reduce the noise emissions affecting the “New Atterberry” housing quarter. In 2010, the planners at Albert Speer und Partner tabled an expert opinion on the “possible interfacing of Bornheim and Seckbach/highway cover in terms of urban planning and the urban fabric” with the intention of expanding the proposed “covering of the A 661” to include urban planning and landscape planning aspects.

The development of the “Ernst May District” is considered an outstanding project of downtown urban development given its proximity to the center of town. Key planning parameters for the area studied, which covers some 100 hectares, are:

  • Overcoming the ruptures in the urban fabric and landscape caused by the construction of the A 661 highway,
  • Reducing the noise levels caused by the A 661,
  • Creating new potential housing by consolidating existing quarters,
  • Forging a large greenbelt between existing parks (Huthpark / Günthersburgpark) and improving climatological conditions.
Area studied: Ernst May District, © City of Frankfurt Planning Dept., map based on: aerial photo courtesy of City of Frankfurt Survey Office


In April 2016, in the form of an interim report (City Council resolution § 1053 of Feb. 23, 2017) the City Executive informed the various bodies about the progress of the studies. Key findings of the report:

After weighing up all the relevant interests and an initial cost/benefits analysis, the recommendation was that for further planning a cover length of 400m be assumed.

The statements on the urban and landscape planning objectives for the area studied are derived from the Pesch und Partner master plan. This envisaged first seven possible new housing quarters with a total of some 3,500 housing units. Secondly, there is the opportunity to create a large, publicly accessible landscaped park (the “Green Heart”) of about 24 hectares. The latter could contribute to improving climatological conditions in the planning area and in existing quarters, while also augmenting the range of local leisure-time facilities for inhabitants.

Three of the housing quarters initially foreseen covering a total of approx. 16 hectares were removed from the area studied for legal reasons and the plan is to develop them under independent legal land use plans.

Map excerpt: 2019, Updated urban development and landscaping master plans for the Ernst May district, Pesch Partner Architekten, Glück Landschaftsarchitektur

Overall conditions for traffic planning

Overall conditions for traffic planning relating to the A 661 and the covering over it between Friedberger Landstrasse and the Seckbacher Landstrasse gallery

On the basis of a planning approval decisions reached in January 1980, all planning relating to the construction of the A 661 highway falls within the jurisdiction of the State of Hessen. The project has not yet been realized in a form that has received planning approval. At present, the planning amendment procedure of February 2021 lays the basis for final completion of the autobahn and paves the way for extensive traffic measures. This amendment procedure with the intended traffic-related adjustments led to a revaluation of the overall planning conditions for the “Ernst May District” area as studied.

Given the list of traffic measures, the City Council in its resolution § 3864 of April 6, 2019 determined that the cover should be extended to roof over the autobahn for a length of some 1,000 m between Friedberger Landstrasse and the Seckbacher Landstrasse gallery, to lay the basis for planning this and to update the estimated cost.

The length of about 1,000 m expands planning options to allow for additional housing and an increase in parkland in the area in question. The existing master plan was thereupon revised again in 2019.

Preparatory study

Current status on the preparatory study (spring 2023)

The State of Hessen expects that the legal basis for the planning amendment procedure to strengthen the A 661 and as the foundation for additional planning on covering a section of it should be resolved in the second half of 2023.

As per the City Council resolution of April 2019 the draft planning for covering over the highway is being elaborated further by DEGES. The results are expected to be available in Q1 2024.

Once the results are available, the City Council will have to decide whether to realize the cover construction or not.

Given the close specialist dovetailing of construction of the cover, on the one hand, and the overall urban and landscape planning on the other, all further studies on the planning zone are on hold until the City Council decides on whether or not to have the cover structure built.

Link for further details

For additional information on the progress of the draft plans for “covering the A 661” are to be found here  on the DEGES homepage. It provides details on key milestones and interim findings.