Dr. Gerhard Vogel: The conversion picks up steam

Die Turley Barracks – Pilotprojekt der Konversion in Mannheim.

Die Turley Barracks – Pilotprojekt der Konversion in Mannheim.

It is a historical opportunity for the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region. The United States Armed Forces will be re­­leasing about 750 hectares of military sites in Mannheim, Heidelberg and Schwetz­­ingen by the end of 2015. This represents a unique opportunity for urban development for the affected cities – and an enormous challenge. From the be­­ginning, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) Rhine-Neckar has actively participated in the dia­­logue for the future use of the conversion sites on behalf of its member com­­panies – not the least because these sites provide a tremendous oppor­­­tu­­nity for the expansion of the companies in the metropolitan region, just as they do for greenfield development. To this end, we have successfully campaigned that the pol­­icy position resolved by our General As­­sembly regarding the conver­­sion, such as the designation of commer­­cial real estate, was adopted in the corre­­spond­­­­ing guidelines by the cities of Mann­­heim, Heidelberg and Schwetz­­ingen, which were devised together with the citizenry. Now that the process is picking up steam, we are offering differ­­­ent platforms in nu­­merous events and in­­spections in close cooperation with the communities, where companies can ob­­tain information and establish direct contact with the responsible persons.

Diskussion während einer Informationsfahrt der  IHK Rhein-Neckar in den Turley Barracks in Mannheim.

Diskussion während einer Informationsfahrt der IHK Rhein-Neckar in den Turley Barracks in Mannheim.

 

The “pilot project” in Mannheim – where over 500 hectares in conversion sites are becoming available – is Turley Barracks. The negotiations with the City of Mann­­heim and the Institute for Federal Real Estate (BImA), which acquired the 13- ­­­hectare site near the city centre of Mannheim from the US Army, were lengthy and complicated. However, the city was able to report “mission accomplished” in early October 2012. The sale of the first of ten conversion sites was completed. 21 January 2013 marked the beginning of a new era: the reconstruction of the barracks into an urban residential and cultural quarter began. The Frank­­furt architect and anchor in­­vestor, Tom Bock, calls his project “SoHo Turley”. He is investing around 100 million euros to turn his vision into reality over the next ten years. Nearly 300 apart­­ments, offices, commercial premises, shopping opportun­­ities, restaurants and studios will be de­­­­veloped. VRMagic, an expanding manufacturer of simulators for medical training, is the first enterprise that will be moving into one of the renovated and protected historical build­­ings in the summer.

Schlüsselübergabe vor der Kilbourne-Kaserne in Schwetzingen.

Schlüsselübergabe vor der Kilbourne-Kaserne in Schwetzingen.

 

The subject of commercial sites is on the agenda for the 46-hectare Taylor Barracks in the Mannheim district of Vogelstang. The railway technology spe­­cialist Bombardier opened its e-mobility test track there in early summer. The pro­­ject marks the launch of an engineering mile that is to develop alongside the con­­version sites. Besides Bom­­bardier, companies involved here include the Mann­­heim energy supplier MVV, the engine man­­­­ufacturer MWM and the ABB electronics group. The two well-known Mann­­­­heim musicians Xavier Naidoo and Michael Herberger from the Söhne Mannheims band also want to become involved on the premises by opening a media park. The central element is to be a theatre, the stage of which can also be used for open-air events. Herberger and Naidoo have devel­­oped a concept for the entire premises to­­gether with the Diringer & Scheidel group of companies.

Flächen in einer Größenordnung von 200 Hektar  räumen die Amerikaner in Heidelberg.

Flächen in einer Größenordnung von 200 Hektar räumen die Amerikaner in Heidelberg.

In Schwetzingen, the IHK Rhine-Neckar, together with the City of Schwetzingen and BlmA, organized a tour of Tompkins Barracks one day before the official hand­­over in mid-March 2013. This was an offer which about 180 companies from the entire Rhine-Neckar metropolitan re­­gion gladly accepted. Their visit of the premises included a tour of a vehicle depot as well as housing and cafeteria facilities used by the US Armed Forces. The City of Schwetzingen is focussing its plans for the 36-hectare site on attracting commercial businesses. Concepts include relocating companies from the creative industry and start-ups to the protected historical barracks built in the 1930s. The city is considering using the large open space for distribution and logistics – and welcomes the opportunity of finally designating its own commercial sites. A residential complex is planned for the smaller Kilbourne Barracks.

Die IHK bietet mit zahlreichen Veranstaltungen zum Thema Konversion  – wie hier in Heidelberg – eine Diskussionsplattform für ihre Mitgliedsunternehmen.

Die IHK bietet mit zahlreichen Veranstaltungen zum Thema Konversion – wie hier in Heidelberg – eine Diskussionsplattform für ihre Mitgliedsunternehmen.

Industrial and commercial space is also scarce in Heidelberg. The conversion site in the range of 200 hectares could help alleviate the situation. However, the topics still dominating the public conversion discussion in the city on the Neckar river are housing, leisure time and green spaces. Therefore, it is particularly im­­portant for Heidelberg that business and commerce contribute to the discussion. The IHK Rhine-Neckar is participating in the decision-making process through the Development Committee, an advisory body consisting of members of associations, institutions and government. An excellent opportunity for attracting busi­­nesses is provided by the premises of the former Patton Bar­­racks along the Speyerer Straße. Other options exist on the airfield, hospital site and in the Südstadt, a district around the headquar­­ters. Heidelberg sees the focus on attract­­ing research-related me­­dium-sized enter­­prises and expanding local craft enterprises that previously could not be offered any expansion perspective. The largest site, Patrick Henry Village, and Mark Twain Village will be used to address one of Heidelberg’s biggest and most urgent problems – the creation of housing space.

Industrial and commercial space is also scarce in Heidelberg. The conversion site in the range of 200 hectares could help alleviate the situation. However, the topics still dominating the public conversion discussion in the city on the Neckar river are housing, leisure time and green spaces. Therefore, it is particularly im­­portant for Heidelberg that business and commerce contribute to the discussion. The IHK Rhine-Neckar is participating in the decision-making process through the Development Committee, an advisory body consisting of members of associations, institutions and government. An excellent opportunity for attracting busi­­nesses is provided by the premises of the former Patton Bar­­racks along the Speyerer Straße. Other options exist on the airfield, hospital site and in the Südstadt, a district around the headquar­­ters. Heidelberg sees the focus on attract­­ing research-related me­­dium-sized enter­­prises and expanding local craft enterprises that previously could not be offered any expansion perspective. The largest site, Patrick Henry Village, and Mark Twain Village will be used to address one of Heidelberg’s biggest and most urgent problems – the creation of housing space.

Dr.-Vogel_2010-kopierenThe author is president of the IHK Rhine-Neckar. He earned his doctorate in 1979 at the university of Mannheim. He then assumed a management position in a commercial law and auditing firm. In 1983, he joined the management board of Fuchs Petrolub before becoming a member of the board of FAG Kugel­­fischer AG in 1999. He has been CEO of Fuchs Interoil GmbH since October 2004.