From Port to Waterside Living

The city of Bremen is reinventing its port on the Weser river with the largest construction project in Europe. Construction companies, developers and other companies are invited to reshape the future of the northern German city.

April 2020

Right at the beginning of the nineties, Bremen’s once-thriving commercial harbor was a sorry example of the decline of traditional industry, with increasing numbers of empty buildings and abandoned warehouses. Rather than watching its decay, the city of Bremen decided in 2000 to transform its inner-city port – the Überseestadt (“Overseas City”) was born. In recent years, it has become one of the largest urban development projects in Europe: An area of 288ha will be rebuilt into a new neighborhood by 2025. As much of the old harbor as possible will be preserved in the waterfront redevelopment.

The Überseestadt, which is only 2km from Bremen’s old town, will mix the commercial maritime environment – including port management, logistics and commerce – with culture, leisure and living. The vision is to transform the harbor district into an entrepreneurial live/work environment where office and residential spaces coexist and blend into each other. For real estate and construction investors, it offers a unique opportunity to make their mark in a heritage location. The situation has many advantages such as the well-developed infrastructure and its proximity to the freeway and Bremen airport.

Bremen’s Überseestadt isn’t just a business location: Artists like Tom Gefken (pictured) have moved in and set up creative community spaces. He is the founder of the GaDeWe gallery – “The Gallery of the West.” © Toma Babovic/laif

Getting the balance right in Overseas City

Around 2,500 people currently live in Bremen’s Übersee­stadt. By 2030, it is expected to have twice as many inhabitants. The number of companies in the quarter is also growing rapidly: In the early days of Übersee­stadt, there were only 300 companies with around 6,000 employees. Today, more than 1,000 companies operate there with over 16,000 employees – and the number is rising. It is not difficult to get the work-life balance right in the district: Rents are still moderate, there are shops and services in the immediate vicinity, and the walk to work is pleasant. A city beach called Waller Sand has been created in the quarter for outdoor leisure.

Many investors have already leapt in, buying up land and real estate, repairing old buildings or putting up new ones. Take the former factory of the food manufacturer Kellogg on the banks of the Weser. The company closed its doors in Bremen in 2017, but a private investor bought the site and is planning a CO2-neutral building ensemble. Over 1,000 apartments, schools and kindergartens are to be built on the river peninsula, alongside offices, restaurants and shops. The landmark Kellogg silo is to be converted into a hotel with a rooftop restaurant. To date, over EUR 1bn has been pledged for the Überseestadt – a figure which is expected to double before construction has finished.

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