FFor almost a quarter of a century, the Offenbach freight yard is no longer used as such. With a final decision by the city council for the development, the development of a new district for Offenbach can now actually begin. The plan is to build a new quarter in which apartments and commercial space will mix. All in all, around 31,000 square meters of gross floor area should be available. Around 800 people should find a new home in the approx. 300 apartments. The planners expect around 450 jobs in the new companies.
The construction of another grammar school urgently needed in Offenbach is also planned on the site. It should be six moves. Because of the rapidly increasing number of pupils in Offenbach, the head of the building and planning department Paul-Gerhard Weiß (FDP) is particularly happy that another grammar school is now being built. Alongside the Leibniz, Albert Schweitzer and Rudolf Koch schools, it will be the fourth city-sponsored grammar school. In addition, there is also a grammar school in Offenbach with the Marienschule, under church responsibility.
However, the site of the old train station, which temporarily housed a waste oil loading area and a commuter parking lot, must first be renovated and specifically developed. All of this is the responsibility of Aurelis Real Estate GmbH from Eschborn. Formerly a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, Aurelis has specialized in converting unused or temporarily used fallow land – mainly from Deutsche Bahn’s holdings – into building land. She then sells the developed areas, which are ultimately granted building rights, thus generating sales and profits. Among other things, the company developed the Europaviertel in Frankfurt in this way.
Get out of the poverty trap
The development work on the old freight yard area should start in the first quarter of next year and be completed by mid-2022. Planning department Weiß sees a great benefit for the city in the project: “Aurelis’ plans envisage a lively quarter in the immediate vicinity of the East S-Bahn station, which should be very interesting for residents as well as for companies and their employees. A modern location for living and urban production that is compatible with the city will be created there, what is now often referred to as Industry 4.0, ”says Weiß. The plans to develop a new district for the city from the almost nine hectare site of the old train station are not new, of course: an urban master plan was developed for the area as early as 2003. In it, the freight yard, alongside the Kaiserlei area and the city center, was identified as the third focus of urban development in Offenbach.
Such an area is of particular importance for Offenbach’s development because the smallest independent city in Hesse in terms of area has hardly any land that could be developed. The main consequence of this is that the construction of apartments in the fast-growing city is always in direct competition with the development of new commercial locations. But the city needs this just as urgently, because only with the settlement of promising companies will it have the chance to free itself from the poverty trap into which it has fallen through the decline or the migration of traditional industries such as leather processing and the electrical industry.
“City of short distances”
As far as the freight yard is concerned, Aurelis commissioned Albert Speer und Partner in 2015 to examine how a modern, mixed-use inner-city quarter can be developed from the site. A quarter in the sense of a “city of short distances” was the target. According to the plans, manufacturing sectors will mix with service providers on the commercial side in “Quartier 4.0”. “Small-scale, low-emission production” is considered. In industry jargon one also speaks of “urban production”.
In addition, the aforementioned 300 apartments are planned to enable the shortest possible distances between work and living. A new leisure area called “Gleispark” is also planned. The area of around 900 meters in length and 200 meters in width also serves as a compensation area for the new quarter. It should open up the possibility of local recreation – not only for the residents and employees of the new quarter, but also for those who already live and work in the areas around the East S-Bahn station.