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Urban renewal in the Ostend district

Formal urban redevelopment process as per section 136 BauGB

Urban revitalization, Offices, Commerce, Housing
District: Completed:

Project description

Reason for planning
Following preparatory investigations, in 1986 the southern part of the Ostend district was formally designated as the “Ostendstraße” redevelopment zone. The renewal project was enshrined in local bylaws that came into force on February 17, 1987.

Development district
The redevelopment zone was bordered by Ostendstraße in the north, Howaldtstraße and the western perimeter of the grounds of the European Central Bank (ECB) in the east, the River Main in the south, and Obermainanlage in the west. In 2003, the area was extended to include the plot of land at no. 51 Oskar von Miller Straße and, in 2006, the docks at Ruhrorter Werft.

Planning objectives
During the preparatory investigations, shortcomings in the urban design, as well as environmental degradation were identified in the south of the Ostend district that required direct action on the part of the City Council. The aim of the renewal project was to stabilize conditions in the district and strengthen residential, working, recreational, and cultural facilities. Little-used commercial space has been earmarked for residential development and mixed usage, and the potential offered by the open space along the River Main will be used for the benefit of the public.

Project progress
Modernization and redevelopment started with measures to free building land and eliminate overlap between housing and commercial properties. Disruptive commercial facilities were relocated from inside blocks, namely the area formerly used by the Agricultural Association, and the areas south of Sonnemannstrasse and the former docks at Weseler Werft as far as possible to other sites.

Specific parcels of land were purchased as the key strategy for the ongoing modernization, while reselling plots also became a decisive element. In this way, it proved possible to optimize and deliver the requisite high-grade usages and urban design to an extent well beyond what could have been achieved relying on conventional building and planning law. Thus various tender types, including expert tenders, urban planning competitions, realization competitions and investor competitions were used when selling plots of land for new building projects. The realization of new builds of a standard size and type of usage, as well as the utilization of harmonized design elements and materials gave rise to a pleasing coherent urban fabric that is rounded out by streets that are all of an equally high standard.

In total, almost 1,000 new apartments have arisen on the land freed up in the district. Of these, about 800 residential units were enabled by City restructuring measures. As regards the apartment construction projects, the emphasis was laid on providing a balanced offering of subsidized social housing (274 units), rental apartments (246 units) and owner-occupied apartments (about 480 units).

To improve the range of apartments on offer and living conditions not only in the area covered by new builds, the City provided financial incentives for private owners as well as expert advisory services on handling private modernization and maintenance work. The modernization of a total of 300 dwellings and property units with and without subsidies goes to show that the private owners were willing, as part of the overall modernization project, to invest in existing buildings and as a result such properties received a design and quality upgrade.

The provision of retail areas on the ground floors of some of the new builds has improved infrastructure in the district. Alongside some hospitality outlets, a discount store, a Turkish food store, and a flower shop have all opened here.

Supplementing the residential building projects, importantly two childcare centers and four playgrounds for children of all ages have been built. A branch of Internationales Familienzentrum e.V. has also opened, reflecting the district’s international composition.

Moreover, with the foundation in the district of The Frankfurt School of Finance & Management (formerly the Banking Academy) and the adult education center Ostend, the area now has a new emphasis as an education hub.

The single greatest impact on improving residential conditions and enhancing the district’s appeal was the new use given the Weseler and Ruhrorter Werft, with inaccessible docklands turned into a public green zone. By recreating a pedestrian walkway near Flößerbrücke and rebuilding the Jenny Apolant Weg and the Rosa Marx Weg, three attractive paths now connect the Main riverbanks with the residential areas in the modernized district.

The new build measures were rounded out by the streets’ augmented functions and design, as well as the provision of new plazas. Particularly worthy of mention: the redesign of Sonnemannstraße and Oskar von Miller Straße, and the new Horst Schulmann Straße.

From the beginning of the project in 1985 through to its completion, the City incurred total costs of about EUR 68 million for preparing and carrying out the urban modernization measures. These costs compare with revenues from the process totaling some EUR 44 million.

With inclusion of the modernization project in the Federal-State Urban Development Program the City was able to apply for corresponding grants and subsidies. On the basis of 18 approval notices, the Federal and State governments together furnished a total of around EUR 13 million in funds supporting the modernization.

After deducting revenue from the process and grants and subsidies for the modernization, the total costs the City had to shoulder came to EUR 11 million. Given an average subsidy ratio of 56.08%, this figure corresponds exactly to the level of matching financing that the City had to put up to be able to call down the complete volume of grants and subsidies.

These public-sector investments in preparing and carrying out the modernization contrast with far greater third-party investments in building housing, offices and training facilities over the last 29 years.

Now that the objectives of the preparatory investigations as outlined above have largely been achieved, the statutes underpinning the modernization district were annulled on Sept. 8, 2015 and the process is thus formally deemed complete.

Information on the project published by the City Planning Department