“We are doing everything we can to create additional living space”

The Financial Centre Frankfurt is poised for a sudden upsurge in its population. How can enough living space be created to meet such an influx? Here is an interview with Mike Josef, head of the city planning department.

Experts are anticipating a figure of 6,000 to 10,000 new jobs that will come about alone in the banking sector in the wake of many companies relocating from London to Frankfurt. How is the City of Frankfurt dealing with the concurrent need for more housing space?

Mike Josef: We are boosting residential construction, first of all by allocating areas as new building zones. Whatever happens in detail, Frankfurt am Main is expecting a strong population growth over the next few years. Depending on the projection one believes, the expected figures for the year 2030 are in the direction of over 840,000 inhabitants, but they differ from one another by more than 100,000. This shows the level of uncertainty endemic in such forecasts. Moreover, the estimated number of jobs that could be relocated to Frankfurt is subject to change. For those coming to Frankfurt in the wake of the Brexit decision, we have built up an extensive range of offers in this segment over recent years. Of prime importance now is to provide the broader middle class with affordable living facilities and offer these people a future in Frankfurt. That’s why I’m making a special effort to promote the building of low-cost homes and apartments, a segment where construction has been disproportionately low during the last few years.

A new city district is being planned near Steinbach. In terms of the resulting living space and the time scheduled for the project, is this enough?

Josef: It goes without saying that one element alone is not sufficient to create sufficient living space for what is a growing Frankfurt. We are therefore exploiting all options at our disposal to create additional homes. This includes inner urban development, i.e. the conversion of office buildings or entire land areas, as we are doing in the former Niederrad office district or setting in motion on the Römerhof. Further options being deployed are redensification, where this is compatible for the environs and the environment, and the consolidation or border realignment of existing city districts. Because this is not enough, we also have to expand outwards, i.e. we have to build on previously undeveloped sites.

What other aspects have to be considered in such a project as regards infrastructure?

Josef: It’s important that the infrastructure is complete and ready to use before the first residents move in: roads, squares, parks and local public transport must be available, and this also applies to the social infrastructure. This embraces, for example, day nurseries, schools, youth centres and facilities for senior citizens, along with the necessary cafés, bars and restaurants and local shopping amenities. We must now determine the precise extent of the infrastructure facilities we need in the new district during the course of our further planning.

Thank you for the interview.

Picture credits: City of Frankfurt