The transformation of the city cannot be stopped. Classic commerce is in decline, the events and entertainment industry is rushing into town. Real estate experts agree: “The city center is becoming more diverse. The mixed neighborhood is the future.”
In what direction is the city developing? Especially downtown? When trying to speculate on a cure, the evil word desertion keeps coming up. Mayor Frank Nuber takes this scenario very seriously. He had recently organized the Third City Summit for a good reason. Among other things, safety and hygiene were important. In research institutes of universities and real estate developers, it is about completely different topics. One example is Professor Carlos Moreno, who teaches at the Sorbonne and popularizes the concept of the 15-minute city.
“I’m thinking of a city where everyone can get to everything in 15 minutes so they don’t have to travel long life-consuming distances,” Moreno says. What he means by that is a place that allows multiple uses: “We want a multicenter city, and by that we mean a city where the centers are everywhere.” Thus, each center has access to services, commerce, local amenities, health to the people, education, culture and entertainment. “This will be the most important shift going forward,” Moreno says. So, if large cities have many healthy centers with a high level of diversity and mixed use, what role does the classic city really still play? In the view of Frank Luchart, a real estate expert at Colliers Stuttgart, the city center will retain its primary importance. But it will change in the sense of diverse uses: “The city center has become more diverse.” And fellow Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), Georges Charlier, nods in agreement: “The mixed quarter is the future.” The transformation is already visible. Multi-storey retail is on the decline, and office and exclusive living are on the rise.
There is simply no light.
The city rock hall example shows very well where the trend is going. The events and entertainment industry is on the rise. “It’s no longer easy to get out of town to exercise,” says Patricia Carwath, a classmate of Leuchart. In addition, some buildings, such as Metropol, hardly allow any other use: “There is simply no light.” There is already a need to convert many areas, as the example of the real estate company Colliers shows. During the break, employees are forced to practice yoga in their offices with a teacher. For Leukhardt, it is only a matter of time before such or similar shows are found on Königstrasse. “We will then be the first to go there,” he says.
But as it stands, Colliers employees will continue to practice yoga in the office for a while. Because shifting conditions in the sense of a high level of diversity are rather poor in Stuttgart. This is of course also due to the city’s rental prices. According to Leukhardt, their number has halved on Königstrasse in the past 10 years, but they are still only accessible to chain stores. Collier’s rival JLL published a price list only in January of this year: the prime rent on Königstrasse near Commerzbank is €260 per square metre. Expect to pay €185 per square meter on Stiftstrasse, €110 per square meter on Schulstrasse, and €90 per square meter on Marienstrasse.
From JLL’s point of view, another obstacle to the transformation in Stuttgart is what is known as the availability rate. “At 10 percent, it’s the lowest in the rankings of major German cities,” says Georges Charlier, so nothing can happen when it comes to acquisitions. Everything is rigid. “There is no choice, no competition. And with that there is hardly any change. Finally, Charlier warns of what everyone in the real estate industry criticizes: “Conversions are not easily possible in terms of planning law and they take a long time.” Here the city must work closely with developers and owners. “Many owners tend to leave their properties empty out of frustration with bureaucracy,” says Leuchart. Sven Hahn, city manager, sees it this way: “I wish management would have different approaches.”
However, the shift seems unstoppable. Online commerce, the structural weakness of commerce, Corona and a change in entertainment behavior document the contradictory developments of cinema and Netflix that set the pace. The only question is: How do politicians and administrators interact to prevent desertification and to help shape the process of change in a positive way. Frank Lockhart’s answer: “We have to use change to create diversity.”