Building plans in Fürth/Neue Mitte 1

The plans for a huge shopping centre in Fürth have even reached the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

Fürth will es mit Nürnberg aufnehmen: in Sachen Konsum. Dazu bedarf es eines großen Einkaufszentrums, das im Herzen der Stadt entstehen soll. Ein portugiesischer Investor will einen Riesenkomplex mit 25.000 Quadratmetern Verkaufsfläche, Restaurants und Kino bauen. Dafür soll nach ersten Plänen fast ein komplettes Viertel samt denkmalgeschützter Häuser dem Erdboden gleichgemacht werden.

Trotzdem sind Wirtschaft und Politik von dem Projekt hellauf begeistert. Das sei „wie ein Sechser im Lotto“, sagt Christian Nowak von der lokalen Industrie- und Handelskammer – gerade, weil die Investoren in Fürth nicht Schlange stünden. Nowak glaubt, die sogenannte Neue Mitte könne wie „ein Magnet wirken“, der Kunden anlocke und von dem auch der Einzelhandel profitiere.

(Fürth wants to compete with Nuremberg, with a huge shopping centre in the town centre … almost a complete district, including listed buildings, is to be flattened (if the project goes ahead).
But businesses and politicians are thrilled – they say it’s like winning the lottery – could be a magnet attracting consumers, who will then help the retailers.)

Some opposition is forming, although I gather it is split. There are some extreme left-wing groups who would probably not gather popular support if they were in charge of the opposition. The latest circular from Dr. Alexander Mayer, the Stadtheimatpfleger, the local ‘guardian of cultural heritage’ (best translation I’ve found so far), has a few pictures of what things might look like. It also presents some evidence from elsewhere on the failure of such projects to help the present retailers. As for a tender for the building: the potential investor, Sonae Sierra, is having four captive architects of its own choice compete with their plans!

One or two remarks on this:

Fürth never has had a centre – it gradually grew from the west over a longer period of time. It has at least three centres. So there was no Alte Mitte.

Many small shopkeepers are worried about not making enough money. I fear that is happening everywhere and is an unstoppable process. Some of them think the Neue Mitte would bring them more trade, but I wouldn’t be so sure.

My feelings: even if the scheme were promising, I think it’s unacceptable for Rudolf-Breitscheid-Straße to be in private hands. It’s obvious that the investor insists on this: only if all the people who walk along that road are captives of the shopping centre will they go ahead. Hence the mayor says: it’ll only be closed from about 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. I don’t think that’s the point – the point is that the investor can close the street off at all. Even if those closing hours could be guaranteed for ever, it would be no good.

As for the buildings that are to go, that worries me less. That is, if the scheme were good, I would be prepared to give them up. FAZ says: practically a whole district. The OB (mayor) says: the Park Hotel is not listed (but I quite like the 1950s façade); Fiedler and the Commerzbank would be no loss (Fiedler is a big former department store, and apart from one section adjoining the Park Hotel, it looks perfectly OK to me; the Commerzbank really is horrible). Of course, the Sonae Sierra architecture will be of the kind that will look ugly in ten years’ time, like the former Gänsberg buildings. The OB has now been calling the land behind the cinema (Wölfel-Areal) a Schandfleck (a blemish, an eyesore). Now in fact no-one sees that area at all unless they poke their noses in. (See my pictures, posted earlier). There are a number of smallish listed buildings opposite the Commerzbank that are really nice, with small shops in them that are doing well: that would be the main sacrifice.

Now the word Schandfleck has been moving around Fürth as long as I can remember. The main one used to be opposite my flat, where the car park building now is. It was an open area used as a car park, where people who’d bought beer at Aldi used to urinate. Most recently it was the back yards of buildings where the Casa Erhard has now been built. I think it’s a poor argument that suddenly demonizes buildings and areas that are either perfectly acceptable or hidden from public view.

See earlier entry.

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