The Lyon Quarter (in German: Lyoner Quartier) is a development area of 144 hectares near Frankfurter Kreuz (the interchange of the A3 and A5 freeways) and Frankfurt Airport. In recent years, the Lyon Quarter has developed into an attractive mixed area in which the existing office buildings have been supplemented by dozens of residential properties. Until 2006, however, the Lyon Quarter was purely an office location and known as the Niederrad Office City (in German: Bürostadt Niederrad).
The conversion to a mixed area largely began back in 2010. Decisive for this was the declining demand for office space in the Niederrad Office City, the great demand for living space in Frankfurt and the scarcity of building space in the region. In June 2017, the Bürostadt Niederrad was finally renamed as Lyoner Quartier and as a result continues to lose its monofunctionality every year.
Today, the Lyon Quarter is characterized by many urban high-rise buildings with up to 25 storeys, which are contributing to a dense cityscape of the Lyon District. The skyline of the Lyon Quarter consists of more than 20 high-rise buildings today. The most striking buildings in the development area include the Access Tower, the Olivetti Towers, Campus Tower, and the Herriott’s office building. In recent years, some former office towers have been repurposed for residential use, such as
- Lyoner Strasse 10 – 19 floors – 2010,
- Ly30 (Lyoner Strasse 30) – 13 floors – 2006 and the
- Ruby Tower (Lyoner Strasse 40) – 19 floors – 2020.
Further residential buildings are currently being built, particularly on the streets Hahnstrasse and Lyoner Strasse. Lyoner Strasse is the main street in the Lyon Quarter and winds through the entire district. A number of projects have been and are to be constructed on Lyoner Strasse, such as the Blue Towers, Lyoner Strasse 11, and Lyoner Strasse 24.
Problems Due to Monofunctionality
The former Niederrad Office City suffered from demand problems due to its monostructure, which was deliberately intended in the 1960s. The concept of the “green office city” became an office city with green, but without networking with public green connections. A lack of residential buildings, hardly any shopping opportunities or too little gastronomy made the office city almost extinct in the evenings for years.
Likewise, the construction of the high-rise rise buildings on the “Im Mainfeld” street in the 1970s did not change anything, since the railway line separated them from the area . The traffic development was also considered inadequate for a long time. Measures against it were the establishment of the additional bus routes 79 in the 1980s and 78 in the 2000s as well as the creation of a further freeway exit on the Autobahn 5 in July 2013.
Another challenge for the development of the district was the planning of new, competing office spaces in the City West, in the European District, and in the Gateway Gardens commercial estate. As a possible consequence, there was already an office vacancy rate of around 30% in the Niederrad Office City in 2006, which is why the urban planning office was considering the settlement of apartments on the few remaining spaces.
The conversion of former office buildings into residential buildings has reduced the office vacancy rate from double-digit values to less than 8%. The idea of converting old office buildings for residential use was and is being implemented in several places by project developers.
Development of the Niederrad Office City
In the 1950s, the eastern part of the Goldstein settlement was still almost undeveloped. In 1962 the City of Frankfurt decided to designate the site, initially with an area of almost 80 hectares, as an industrial park.
The concept, which was considered progressive for the planning period, was an “office city in the green”, a relatively relaxed high-rise construction with larger surrounding areas should ensure a park-like ambience. The proximity to the airport and the distance to the busy city center should also make the location attractive and at the same time represent a relief center.
Numerous architects, including Egon Eiermann, who designed the high-rise towers for the Olivetti company (1968–1972) raised on funnel-like concrete pillars, created an office district there in the 1960s and 1970s, which around 25,000 commuters come to every day. In 1975 the tram line to Schwanheim was relocated through the office district as a preliminary construction work for the D-line of the Frankfurt U-Bahn and in 1977 the Frankfurt-Niederrad train station, which was relocated from Alt-Niederrad and newly built, was opened in the immediate vicinity of the office district. At the same time, the tram line to Schwanheim was moved a little further north to the office city.
From 1990 and around the turn of the millennium, the area was condensed with additional office buildings and additional hotels to a total of almost 1,000,000 square meters. Older buildings from the 1960s were. Some of them were demolished and replaced by fully functional houses. It was planned to accommodate up to 30,000 office workplaces in the entire area.
Niederrad Office City Becomes Lyon Quarter
After the creation of a framework concept by a Frankfurt architecture and planning office in cooperation with the City Planning Office in 2008, in which the “transformation of a monofunctional office area” was proposed under the new name “Lyon Quarter” (in German: “Lyoner Viertel“), the Frankfurt City Council prepared two development plans in 2012 : They cover 100 hectares of the core area of the office city; Up to 4,000 apartments for up to 8,000 residents are planned. The goal is to be achieved in three ways: conversion of existing houses, further densification on still generous intermediate areas, clearing of an allotment gardens as well as the demolition of vacant office buildings and new construction of residential buildings, accompanied by site redesigns such as playgrounds, small parks, continuous green strips and cycle paths.
The first building to be converted into a residential building designed by the Frankfurt architect Stefan Forster was the 15-storey high-rise Lyoner Strasse 19, which had been vacant for years. The office building was gutted for 15.4 million euros, raised by two floors, surrounded with a modern base and filled with 98 partially furnished apartments and a commercial enterprise. The renovation was completed in mid-2010 and the first apartments were then rented out. In December 2014, 196 ready-to-move apartments were added to the Green Six energy-efficient building at Hahnstrasse 72. A further 1,208 apartments were completed in the district by 2019.
In addition to the around 4,000 apartments, the construction projects now also include day-care centers, supermarkets and a significant strengthening of local amenities as well as green spaces suitable for settlement. In this way, the necessary infrastructure for a lively residential area should be created. The increasing construction of condominiums up to 115 square meters (“family-friendly apartments”) and living space for students is intended to reduce the proportion of partially used small apartments for weekend commuters.