Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE - By Stu­art Metzler

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

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