Things are looking up in London and Berlin
As population growth in major cities continues, the need for living space has given residential real estate developers food for thought. While Berlin streets seem comparatively expansive when compared with their London peers, the two capital cities share some issues. Rather than looking down at the cracks in the pavement, a glance upwards could just point the way towards answers to both cities’ respective race for space.
In the case of London, the “Ideas above your Station” report, by the Centre for London think tank, last year pointed towards the potential for residential development at the city’s many train and underground stations. Overground is also the place to find space in Berlin, which is set to grow to a population of as much as four million by 2035. But rather than sitting above the city’s U-Bahn stations, development potential instead lies above inner-city supermarkets and their many car parks. Both the office and residential sectors are under pressure, with developers desperately seeking gaps in the cityscape for residential projects.
Given a lack of available land and scarcity of housing, the existence of single-storey supermarkets with large car parks has been questioned. Demolition – or the addition of residential floors to existing single-storey properties – are options. According to Berlin’s Senate Department for Urban Development, there are 1119 food markets with more than 300 square metres of retail space across the once-divided city. As many as 330 existing supermarkets could be combined with rental housing.
In the south of Berlin, a corner supermarket is in many ways a trial balloon, with residential developer Diamona & Harnisch adding apartments to a low-rise Reichelt store. As many as 100 apartments will be added to the scheme, which was originally built in the 1960s. Back in the UK, the integration of residential property into retail space is not uncommon, with the country’s grocery stores Morrisons and Sainsbury – as well as Tesco – rolling apartments into their schemes. Research by UK real estate analyst GL Hearn suggests as many as 150,000 homes could be built above or alongside stores in London. While Berlin and London’s needs differ in many ways, the requirement for space puts both cities firmly on common ground.
PB3C GmbH is Germany’s leading consultancy agency for strategic positioning and communication within the real estate industry