The Rathenau Halls used to be one of the most important industrial centres in Germany. Today, the premises are being revitalized and turned into a modern mixed-used district allowing for people to live and work at this site. In addition to already existing business enterprises, a hotel, offices and retail businesses as well as green spaces, apartments, a day care facility for children and a public path on the banks of the Spree River shall be developed.
Development of the Rathenau Halls is determined by the Berlin zoning plan (as of 2016). While the zoning plan sets out that the majority of the industrial buildings on the banks of the Spree River shall be a commercial development zone, it explicitly allows for a mixed development zone (mixed-use area) on the premises of the Rathenau Halls.
That means that residential and commercial units can basically be developed on an equal footing. The development plan on the revitalization of the Rathenau Halls must comply with the provisions of the zoning plan. Hence, both residential and commercial use is also allowed in terms of zoning law.
The district government, however, has asked that residential use be subordinate to commercial use. For this reason, residential use will only make up to 25 percent of the total usable space.
Numerous tradesmen, craftspersons and artists have already established their businesses at the premises of the Rathenau Halls. The main objective is to preserve the Rathenau Halls as an important business location in Oberschoeneweide by improving the conditions for use for the present tenants.
At the same time, a “Berlin mixture” of commercial and residential use shall be established at the premises. For instance, HTW Berlin, Berlin’s largest university of applied sciences, has expressed interest in making Oberschoeneweide more attractive by using some institutions located at the Rathenau Halls for their purposes, thus contributing to the establishment of a vibrant mix of living and working.
The subordinate residential use (maximum of 25 percent) makes the location attractive and lively. In contrast to general residential areas, the right to protection of residential use, in particular with regard to noise emissions, is limited with this kind of mixed use to allow for the co-existence of businesses at the location.
Residential use will mainly be realized in buildings that will be newly erected on the banks of the river. This way it is ensured that almost all commercial space available will be preserved and an attractive mix of residential and commercial use will evolve. Condominiums as well as rental apartments are being provided for. This mixture will contribute to the development of a lively neighbourhood in Oberschoeneweide. Apartments for families and students, visiting scholars and foreign students of HTW Berlin will support the development of the overall location.
The Berlin district of Treptow-Köpenick is currently preparing a development plan for the premises. It is anxious to balancing the interests involved in the revitalization of the Rathenau Halls.
The development plan shall set out the parts of the site which are exclusively subject to commercial use and those which allow for residential use in addition to commercial use. Moreover, the owner’s obligation to build a day care facility for children and the minimum percentage of social housing is being stipulated in the development plan. It also requires the building owner to build a green corridor on the banks of the Spree River, providing for a pedestrian as well as a bicycle lane. According to the development plan, the green corridor shall be open to the public. All of the planning is being carried out in close consultation with the Berlin Monument Authority since the entire area where the Rathenau Halls are located is listed.
Adoption of the development plan is expected in 2017.
Tenants and residents have been involved in the development planning of the premises early on. A briefing on this issue, which was attended by more than 110 visitors, was held at the end of 2015.
The district council of Treptow-Köpenick and the urban development council have discussed the development of the premises within the scope of several meetings. The political groups clearly stated their requirements of what should be considered within the scope of the planning. The district council emphasized these requirements in particular in its decision of 3rd March 2016. According to this decision, the primary objective of the urban development should be to promote creative industries, the arts, culture, services as well as science and research.
Any other use of the premises – residential use, in particular – should only be zoned if it does not conflict with this development purpose. Where residential spaces are being created, they should be clearly demarcated, in spatial terms in particular, from commercial spaces, according to the district council’s decision.
Work on the development plan is in progress. Transport development is being reviewed and requirements under environmental law are being addressed. Moreover, the planning specifies the location and design of the new buildings and determines the requirements for the public green corridor.