Turnaround for Harburg
Things are looking up for a small harbor in the south of Hamburg which fell into disuse in the 1970s. In recent years, investment in the quarter has given Harburg a new lease of life.
In the early 1970s, there was still a lot of activity in Hamburg’s southern harbor district Harburg. Cargo ships brought goods from all over the world to Harburg and loaded German industrial goods to ship abroad. However, the triumph of the large container ship spelled the end for the port, which was simply too small. Gradually, companies moved away, halls stood empty, and the area became neglected and derelict.
The founding of the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) in 1978 brought a ray of hope for Harburg. The educational institution breathed new life into the old port and a number of service and technology companies settled there, clustered around the university.
This started the ball rolling and then, more recently, real estate developers began transforming the neighborhood with redevelopment and new construction projects. Arne Weber was one of the first: He bought Unilever’s former soap factory and converted it into a modern office building. Other projects followed suit, including upmarket restaurants that also attracted wealthy customers. “In the past, well-heeled people avoided this district. Then they came with their own boats and parked directly in front of the noble restaurants and shops on the water,” says Christian Weber, managing director of the construction company HC Hagemann.
Hamburg’s “Innovation Port” (HIP) is being developed as a hub for the networking of industry and science, clustered around the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Fraunhofer Society. © Hamburg Innovation Port, MVRDV
Hamburg’s “Innovation Port”
The transformation of Harburg is far from complete. There are still many properties and sites in the harbor that are suitable for unusual and prestigious development projects – hence many opportunities for investors, both domestic and foreign. The neighborhood already boasts The German Aerospace Center, as well as the Fraunhofer Center for Maritime Logistics CML.
In particular, a project called the “Hamburg Innovation Port” (HIP) is attracting interest. The vision for HIP is a commercial complex where companies work closely together with the scientific community. The first building with around 6,000m2 has already been completed, and a further 20,000m2 are under construction, including five new hotels. In all, just under a third of the planned 70,000m2 complex is under way, and investment to date totals EUR 150 million.
For a model of what Harburg’s harbor might look like, one only has to travel a few kilometers north to the Hafencity, where the transformation of the old warehouse district has already largely been completed. The area is proving to be a magnet for locals and tourists, not least because of the world-famous Elbphilharmonie concert hall.