"Urbanity through density" at the Niddaauen
(ffm) What a view! On the horizon the gently undulating Taunus, in front of it the lush green of the Niddaauen, in the back the skyline. Welcome to the roof of the building Berkersheimer Weg 8 in the high-rise development Frankfurter Berg, a jubilee. Because its inhabitants celebrate the 50th anniversary of the quarter on the weekend of 8 and 9 June, June. Lord Mayor Peter Feldmann is the patron of the festival. We have already visited the jubilarian before.
Some floors below, the view is just as beautiful. Heide Kulzinger lives on the 16th floor and is one of the first inhabitants of the house. In 1970 she moved into the three-room apartment with her husband and eight-month-old son. “The fresh air and the good cut of the apartment“ is what the 75-year-old pensioner appreciates about the house. The bright rooms, including the kitchen, have generous windows and point out to the outside, the lightless bathroom is inside - a modern concept for the time. This is followed with modifications by the 1006 apartments in four skyscrapers - one with 17, two with 19 and one with 25 floors - and seven eight-storey apartments. Approximately 2000 people live in the settlement, who followed “urbanity through density“ according to the urban development model of the time “Urbanity by Density“ by means of social housing.
A paradigm that means blessing and curse at the same time. Many young families found at that time a modern and favorable dwelling, the local recreation area before the door. But the face of the settlement has changed. “Today no one greets anymore“, says Kulzinger. You hardly know each other anymore. The neighbors used to help each other. But that is rarely the case today. An impression confirmed by Michael Bartram-Sitzius, First Chairman of the Bürgerverein Frankfurter Berg. The first families moved out again in the seventies. The housing office occupied the apartments with different tenants who were dependent on social housing. “The great shift in social mixing has not done the settlement any good“, says Bartram-Sitzius. And adds: „At the end of the seventies, the head of the social services at the time had pushed through the construction of the youth centre against strong resistance. This helped to contain the emerging problems somewhat. “
There were other causes. Real estate investor Werner Schleich buys the apartments at the end of the 80s. Some years later they fall out of the social bond, rents rose. Schleich goes bankrupt in 2007. Already many years before, the clammy company had barely taken care of the maintenance of the stocks. The result of this interplay of many factors was that the settlement became a social hotspot.
Today, 450 apartments belong to GWH Wohnungsgesellschaft Hessen, a Helaba subsidiary; the rest are privately owned. GWH manages two high-rise buildings and four eight-storey buildings in the settlement. The caretakers from the office in the settlement regularly make their rounds. The effect: The hallway on the floor of Frau Kulzinger is tidy. “That looks partly different in the former ‚Schleich houses‘. For example, there are many bicycles in the corridor“, says Bartram-Sitzius. GWH relies on a mixture of service and social control. A concierge sits on the ground floor and helps the tenants with small tasks, but also has an eye on the entrance area. At the same time, video cameras record what is happening in the elevator and other public areas. “In this way we prevent vandalism in our buildings“, explains Martin Büttner of GWH.
Bartram-Sitzius praises the cooperation with the company. Thus the GWH made available in the settlement for a area for a woman meeting. This is a valuable support for the migrant women in the settlement. Cooperation with the police was also working well. On the one hand their territory was further away after a merger, on the other hand more patrol cars were on the way. “We certainly have problems, but the hard times are long behind us“, says Bartram-Sitzius.
An assessment that is also confirmed by the police. “We see the development very positively“, says Andreas Wagner, local protectionist. He's known the area for many years. The cooperation with youth welfare services, associations and the public order office has proved its worth. In his work, it is important for him to keep the subjective sense of security of the citizens in mind. For example, the police offer a weekly citizens' discussion and rely on the use of footprints. “The residents and our counterpart see that we are present“, the official explains. It is not very helpful when the media reduce a quarter to skyscrapers and crack dealers, as happened in a television report last year. The residents of the settlement and the surrounding district publicly fought back.
Oberbürgermeister Feldmann knows such topics from his own experience. In the nineties he managed the youth centre at the Bügel on Ben-Gurion-Ring for six years. At that time, the district also had to struggle with problems. „What image is created in people's minds when, as in such contributions, they point their outstretched fingers at the people in the district. Reality is more complex, he says. Because: „There are always people who fight for something to change. These are first of all the residents with their initiative, the young people, the social institutions, the police, the housing companies, the religious communities - and many more! We have to support these people“, says Feldmann. This would result in many small solutions that would make the district worth living in.
A tour of the district shows what such small solutions look like. On a meadow four-legged friends do their business regularly and the owners do not seem to take it so exactly with the elimination also. Bartram-Sitzius addresses Büttner from GWH on the problem: “There are no bag dispensers and some litter bins “ “Write them down“, replies the representative of the housing company. And adds: „There is something else. If necessary, we will donate this to celebrate the anniversary of the settlement!“
For urban projects, this is not so easy, after all, the projects are a few house numbers larger. Thus, around 844,000 euros a year flow from the Römer budget into youth, family and senior citizen work at Frankfurter Berg. These include the “job scouts“ added last year. The aim of this project is to support young people in the settlement in their search for a job. Clearly, the “Bersch“ - as the vernacular calls him - has a future. Additional apartments have already been built on the former barracks area next door, and the city is developing a new development area on the neighbouring Hilgenfeld. Other steps such as transport projects have been announced. The extension of the underground line 5 from Preungesheim to the S-Bahn station of the district is planned. A new traffic junction is to be created in this way. That's why: “Congratulations and corks on for the next 50 years!““
Text: Ulf Baier