Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gentrification in Hamburg: Can Ikea Save a Run-Down Neighborhood?

By Sven Böll and Ole Reissmann

Plans to build a new Ikea store in the Hamburg district of Altona have divided local residents. Supporters of the project, which would be the first of its kind in a downtown area, claim that it will bring much-needed investment to the area. But local artists and activists say it will just speed up the gentrification of the neighborhood.
It once had the distinction of being Germany's first pedestrian zone. In recent years, however, Grosse Bergstrasse in Hamburg's Altona district has been in decline. Now the shopping street is back in the headlines: as the scene of a battle between local residents over whether Swedish furniture giant should be allowed to build a new inner-city store there.
Ikea's plan to build its first inner-city outlet on Grosse Bergstrasse is the area's last hope, say supporters. The proposed site currently contains the Frappant building, a 1970s concrete behemoth left over from the shopping street's heyday. Proponents claim the new plan, which Ikea says will bring Altona €70 million ($100 million) in investment and 250 jobs, will give the whole neighborhood a new lease on life.

Große Bergstraße STAMP Hamburg, image by Mark Max Henckel

Große Bergstraße, Altona-Altstadt, image by Mark Max Henckel

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