• Germany's news in English
 

Gritty Reeperbahn faces growing gentrification

Published: 31 Jan 2012 07:26 GMT+01:00

At least the name fits Hamburg’s famous red-light district.

Called the Tanzende Türme, or Dancing Towers, because of their curvy design, a €180-million development will house 33,357 square meters of office space alongside a posh, four-star hotel.

On their website, project developer Strabag Real Estate says the high-rise towers set to open this summer reflect Hamburg’s “creativity, modernity and urbanity.” That may be. But they also represent a new highpoint in the ongoing gentrification of St. Pauli, a neighbourhood traditionally known for its punks, prostitutes and blue-collar workers.

Strabag, a Vienna-based company, will locate their German headquarters to the Tanzende Türme. Eight hundred of their employees will begin working there in August. According to the company, several marketing and law firms have expressed interest in renting space in the towers, which have the address Reeperbahn 1.

There goes the neighbourhood?

Large building construction in the city isn’t new. Hamburg is Germany’s second most populous city and one of the wealthiest in Europe. Along with the Church of St. Nicholas and the town hall, construction cranes and scaffolding have become familiar sights on the city’s skyline.

But the changes to St. Pauli, the neighbourhood surrounding the Reeperbahn, have been especially dramatic.

“About 15 years ago the Reeperbahn was kind of this dirty place,” said Kai Ladebeck a Strabag developer working on the project. “Now it has the reputation as a kind of Broadway.”

“There are still prostitutes of course, but in addition there are a lot of entertainment options even for young families – not just for the boys,” he said.

George Harrison once called Hamburg “the naughtiest city in the world” because of the Reeperbahn’s criminality and carnality. But some 50 years after The Beatles lived and played there, it has learned some new tricks.

The strip has been cleaning up its character for the past several decades. In 1986, the family-friendly musical “Cats” opened just off the Reeperbahn and ran for the next 15 years. “Mama Mia!” followed. McDonald’s purchased the street level portion of the venerable Hotel Lausen bordello in the late 1980s. Finer dining and fancier clubs moved into the area. Sex seekers, meanwhile, have increasingly gone online.

To be sure, the neon lights of strip clubs, sex shops and seedy bars still exist on the Reeperbahn. However, many traditional sex clubs have not fared well. The Hotel Luxor, a brothel that had been in operation since 1948, closed in 2008. And of the several erotic cabaret shows that once lit up the street, only the Safari club, where you can pay to see live sex on stage, remains.

Ladebeck said the towers would continue the transformation by bringing more “daylife” to the neighbourhood.

Rising rents

As the neighbourhood’s appeal has broadened, its housing costs have risen. Critics say more affluent apartment seekers are squeezing long-time residents out of the area and that what St. Pauli really needs is not more offices but more affordable housing.

“The Tanzende Türme are a symbol of the city development politics, which does not fit the needs of the people,” said Steffen Jörg, a community activist whose 2009 documentary “Empire St. Pauli” explored the neighbourhood’s ongoing gentrification.

The average rent offer in St. Pauli increased 16.6 percent from 2005 to 2009, according to a report by the Hamburg-Mitte urban planning office. The same study showed rents citywide rose on average four percent over the same time period. (The most recent figures from the Hamburg tenant association show the average rent price in the city for 2011 climbed 5.8 percent over 2009.)

“We need flats for people with low incomes and nowadays the city is just interested in commercial real estate. This is totally besides everything people need in St. Pauli,” Jörg said.

Indeed, despite economic uncertainty demand for office space has remained steady. Hamburg ended 2011 with an eight percent office vacancy rate, according to Colliers International, with just over a million square meters of vacant space in the city. The average price for office rentals increased 11.5 percent from 2010.

Still, the stock of public housing in St. Pauli has not changed much over the past decade. According to a city database, the neighbourhood had 2,027 so-called Sozialwohnungen in 2010, up marginally from. 1,941 in 2000.

As St. Pauli transitions from gritty to glam the fight is likely to continue between residents old and new. In a gesture of goodwill, however, Strabag Real Estate invited their neighbours over for a BBQ every time another floor of the towers was completed.

“We invited everyone to visit,” Ladebeck said. “Including a residence for seniors that live near the project.”

Your comments about this article

18:03 January 31, 2012 by bugger
As happened in other cities, the real rich will make themselves drastically richer on the back of the poor. What a bizarre sight, seeing tourists sitting in front of cafes watching the Geile Meile (horny mile) in anticipation of something wild to happen among the underprivileged while paying over 10 Euros for their latte macchiatos.

Hamburg's moneybags already have destroyed the historical fish market and uglified the harbor silhouette; they did not succeed on the Hafenstrasse yet. But only money rules in Hamburg, and they will not give up until the last bit of working class history is gone in exchange for overpriced luxury for the yuppies.

They want the working class structures for the nouveau riche to boast about working class background they never had.

Soon not worth a visit anymore.
00:00 February 1, 2012 by willowsdad
Take a lesson from New York, now a heavily gentrified and even more heavily sanitized city.
Today's headlines
Presented by the Croatian National Tourist Board
10 surprising things you didn’t know about Zagreb
Zagreb is a hot spot for tourists from Germany. But why? Photo: Shutterstock

10 surprising things you didn’t know about Zagreb

The Croatian capital is the latest trendy destination among Germans seeking warmer weather. So what’s the lure? The Local investigates ten reasons why the Deutsch are flocking to Zagreb. READ  

Greece crisis
Varoufakis begs for calm in war of words
Greek Independence Day celebrations on March 24th. Photo: DPA

Varoufakis begs for calm in war of words

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis called on German and Greek leaders to calm their rhetoric over his country's bailout programme in an op-ed published in Germany on Monday. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Lufthansa fear second black box won't be found
A flight data recorder. Photo: DPA

Lufthansa fear second black box won't be found

Germany's national airline Lufthansa says that the flight data recorder which could provide key evidence about the causes of the Germanwings plane crash last Tuesday may never be found. READ  

Rail in north and east delayed by storms
Photo: DPA

Rail in north and east delayed by storms

Rail passengers will have to deal with delays on several key rail lines after storms on Sunday night caused damage to infrastructure. READ  

Germany grab vital win in Georgia
Photo: DPA

Germany grab vital win in Georgia

Marco Reus and Thomas Müller's first-half goals sealed a 2-0 win in Georgia on Sunday to put the world champions' Euro 2016 qualifying campaign back on track. READ  

Ethiopia's Legese wins Berlin half marathon
Ethiopia's Legese (R) crosses the finish line just ahead of Kenya's Kogei. Photo: APF

Ethiopia's Legese wins Berlin half marathon

Ethiopia's Birhanu Legese won the Berlin half marathon on Sunday as African runners dominated the top ten finishers in the men's race. READ  

Spectator killed in Nürburgring crash
A section of the Nürburgring's north circuit

Spectator killed in Nürburgring crash

A man has been killed and several others injured in an accident at Germany's Nürburgring racetrack. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Germany to hold April service for crash victims
Photo: DPA

Germany to hold April service for crash victims

Germany will hold a national memorial ceremony and service on April 17 for victims of the Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 aboard, regional authorities said on Saturday. READ  

Scientists aiming to redefine the kilogram
The world's roundest sphere. Photo: DPA

Scientists aiming to redefine the kilogram

The German Nation Metrology Institute (PTB) in Braunschweig has set itself the enormous task of finding a new formula for measuring a kilogram. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Germanwings co-pilot 'hid illness' on crash day
Photo: DPA

Germanwings co-pilot 'hid illness' on crash day

Germanwings said on Friday that it had no knowledge of a doctor-signed sick note found by investigators at flight 4U9525 co-pilot Andreas Lubitz's flat. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Germany
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,127
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd