Swiss Life Asset Managers and BEOS AG are working together to reinvent the 73 hectare site of the former Griesheim industrial park in west Frankfurt. They have found new uses for this historic location. By 2035, there will be thousands of jobs here and the former industrial and business park will gradually be given a new sheen.
The “Grande Dame” of west Frankfurt, the area now called Frankfurt Westside has been a solid presence for over 170 years and remained untouched for decades. The Griesheim industrial park, as it was formerly named, was founded in 1856 by chemist Ludwig Baist and since then has been used primarily for the production of synthetic fertiliser and sulphuric acid. The milestones of this era were undoubtedly the invention of polyvinyl chloride (better known as PVC) and the alloy “Elektron”, a material used in optics, precision engineering and aircraft construction. A few years ago, however, chemical production came to a standstill. Now is therefore the perfect time to bridge the gap between the past and the future.
West Frankfurt acquires a new sheen
The unused open space offers potential for a sustainable, mixed-use commercial district that will allow modern manufacturing, technology, innovation, progress and creativity to flourish. The aim of BEOS AG and Swiss Life Asset Managers in Germany is therefore to bring the site, which is the size of 102 football pitches, into the 21st century. This will take about 15 years and entail an investment volume of around EUR 1.3 billion. The plan is to create Frankfurt’s largest mixed-use commercial district featuring over 70 new buildings, which will house between 4000 and 6000 people in the future. There is still flexibility with regard to which industry sectors and companies will move here. The potential range of commercial uses is enormous: manufacturing, research and development, technology centres and institutes, office buildings directly on the river Main, restaurants and event venues, a climbing hall, creative hubs and coworking spaces. However, what is already established is that data centres will be located on two of the large construction areas. These are central to the sustainability and energy concept of Frankfurt Westside, which in future is to be heated exclusively with waste heat from the data centres, so that there is no need to use fossil primary energy sources.
Another important aspect is the opening up of the entire area. This primarily involves the removal of the walls and fences that hid the chemical park for decades. Additional demolition measures will make room for the creation of green spaces and sports facilities as well as for new transport and media developments. To the delight of the people of Frankfurt, the 1600-metre-long bank of the Main at the edge of the Westside campus will be integrated into the project and made accessible to the public. Thanks to an extensive, newly created network of pedestrian and cycle paths, all areas of Westside will be accessible away from road traffic. In addition, the expansion of bus lines and stops will strengthen the public transport service in the district and connect the nearby S-Bahn station with Westside. In this way, Swiss Life Asset Managers is meeting its responsibility to invest in future-proof, sustainably sound projects. The timetable until completion of the district’s development in 2035 is already known: the infrastructure work will kick off this year and should be finished by the end of 2028. Most of the necessary demolition work will be completed in 2024. Then, the first projects entailing building above ground level will get under way from 2025.
Sustainability is a top priority
Climate change and the associated challenges for the real estate sector mean that no urban district can be developed without being underpinned by a compelling sustainability strategy that takes account of all environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. For this reason, it is also of the utmost importance to the Griesheim site that existing structures are efficiently reused wherever possible. This means careful use of resources, intelligent networking of renewable energies, multimodal transport solutions supporting the transition to sustainable mobility, and the design of open spaces that make room for biodiversity, leisure and recreation. The German Sustainable Building Council (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen, DGNB)
has already awarded a platinum pre-certificate – the highest possible DGNB award for commercial districts – to Westside and its development objectives. This means that even at this early stage, the project is already the second highest rated in Germany.
Author: Leander Frank, Communications Manager, Swiss Life Asset Managers Germany
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