High-Rise Development Plan 2021
Using the high-rise building plan 2021, the City of Frankfurt wants to express its political opinion on how and where new skyscrapers are to be built in the future. Using this instrument investors and clients can better orient themselves.
The planning department is currently working on updating the high-rise development plan 2000, which was updated in 2008. Based on these framework plans, it is currently possible to erect high-rise buildings at 16 possible locations. This includes an area to the south of the main train station, which was once reserved for the Campanile project, and an area at the fair grounds, where the 365 meters tall Millennium Tower was onced proposed. The 2021 development plan is to be developed by Jourdan & Müller PAS, who also developed the skyscraper master plans in Frankfurt in the past.
High-rise Buildings in Clusters
The Planning Department of the City of Frankfurt is preparing to update the high-rise development plan, which will also name locations where new high-rise towers can be built. So far, the city relies on high-rise clusters, each of which several towers over 60 meters in height can arise. Single-standing high-rise buildings are proposed to be the absolute exception. The next high-rise plan, whose submission was planned for 2018 and then 2019, will now be presented in 2021.
Sense and Purpose
According to the Planning Department, the new master plan should also identify where even high-rise buildings under 60 meters should not be built. This was necessary to “calm the city skyline” and to protect certain locations and neighborhoods from land speculation.
It has not yet been decided, whether precise locations or rough zones should be proposed in the upcoming high-rise development plan. Project developers have opposed the designation of clear construction sites, as their value would otherwise rise sharply. In order to put a stop to land speculation, the City of Frankfurt had always opted for specific locations in the past. No decision was taken on this subject, says the Frankfurt Planning Department.
However, this new skyscraper plan is legally not binding, as all skyscraper plans so far. Over the past few years, the City of Frankfurt has allowed a number of skyscrapers (see overview below) without these being ever mentioned in a high-rise development plan. This means: the high-rise building plan is nothing more than a political expression of the city (and especially those who formulate the plan) at a specific time.
Approved "Without Plan"
With the high-rise development plan 2021, the city wants to prevent “wild growth” in urban planning and direct the construction of skyscrapers. However, a number of towers were constructed without originally being planned in any high-rise building plan:
So why do some projects manage to be realized and others fail? Quite simply: there was a political majority for the approved project. This majority was either already present or it could be procured. Either there is great agreement about the project anyway (like with the new ECB premises) or the builder sweetens the city the “yes” decision by concessions, such as the construction of affordable housing.
No Residential Skyscrapers
In the continuation of the current high-rise building plan, the City of Frankfurt reportedly does not want to allow new residential towers. In this regard, Planning Department head Mike Josef (SPD), who is also the leader of the high-rise building plan, has expressed himself at a symposium. Many new residential high-rises would be partially empty and thus withheld from residential use. These residential towers were mainly used by foreign investors as an investment and thus were no relief for the housing market.
Mike Josef referred to the Henninger Turm, where many apartments in the evening are not lit up. For this reason, in particular, office towers and mixed-use skyscrapers are planned to be included in the revised high-rise development plan. Therefore no new locations for residential towers are expected in the new high-rise master plan.
First Trends Communicated
At the event Immobilien-Dialog Frankfurt am Main (lit. “Real Estate Dialogue Frankfurt”), city planning director Martin Hunscher said in March 2020 that the City of Frankfurt could imagine the area around Ostbahnhof (“Eastern Station”) as a new high-rise cluster. This information is in line with the November 2019 market twittering (SKYLINE ATLAS reported) that the ECB is planning another high-rise tower right next to the existing ECB skyscraper. This would create the third high-rise cluster in Frankfurt, in addition to the existing clusters Banking District and European Quarter.
So far, the only problem with this proposal is that the city councils decided at the time that the seat of the ECB should be a solitary building without strong high-rise buildings nearby. But as the numbers show, the ECB is bursting at the seams and urgently needs capacity at the headquarters for the increasing tasks. It remains to be seen whether the City of Frankfurt will rethink this. In any case, a new cluster would have another bridge function in the direction of Kaiserlei area and the neighboring city of Offenbach.
Statement on the Tall Building Development Plans
An opinion by SKYLINE ATLAS editor-in-chief Michael Wutzke.
Experts see the high-rise development plans as a double-edged sword: the idea of high-rise planning is fundamentally welcome, for example, to protect certain neighborhoods, but the implementation is not yet stringent. The problem is that certain locations can be cemented for decades and pass the requirements. The City of Frankfurt would be well advised not to limit itself to the number of skyscrapers in high-rise development plans, but instead put the often criticized quality of the architecture in the foreground.
Tall buildings can be seen from all directions from afar. The people have earned an aesthetic, livable city and do not want to look at loveless concrete blocks, but experience a modern urban space. Therefore, the idea behind a high-rise development plan should be: the more innovative the architecture and the benefits to the public are, the more exposed the location and height of a skyscraper should also be.
Among other things, Mike Josef wants to prevent speculation with the high-rise development plan. That is a noble goal. But why should it succeed in Frankfurt, where also London has failed. No lip service is needed, but a new kind of politics: the city does not need new residential areas here and there, but Frankfurt must finally meet its unofficial metropolis status. This also means that the state of Hessen (where Frankfurt lies in) and the Federal Republic of Germany must financially support the metropolitan function of Frankfurt much more than in the past.