Berlin, June 8, 2020 – Today, SIGNA is presenting a concrete concept for the Karstadt am Hermannplatz project. “In the past twelve months, we’ve made use of a great deal of feedback from residents, politicians and experts to further sharpen our vision and adapt it to local needs,” says Timo Herzberg, CEO SIGNA Real Estate Germany. “Our declared objectives for the development of our property at Hermannplatz are sustainably safeguarding the department store location, securing the existing jobs and the creation of further jobs, realising needs-based utilisation concepts for the people at Hermannplatz and for all Berliners as well as the early involvement of local residents in the development plans for the property. We’re fully convinced that this development at Hermannplatz offers exceptional opportunities for the city of Berlin and the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Neukölln districts. Particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, this is of utmost importance and contributes to our city remaining a creative, tolerant, forward-looking metropolis.”
Strengthening the Karstadt store
The focus is on the reconstruction of the Karstadt building in the historic style of the department store (item 4 in the illustration). Over the past 15 years, the Karstadt store at Hermannplatz lost a lot of its sales. In order to secure the location for a department store concept for the future, new impulses are urgently needed. “We want to provide such an impulse with the architecture of the 1920s, as reinterpreted by David Chipperfield,” Herzberg explains. Karstadt and its subtenants – with a current sales area of approx. 30,000 m² – are to remain as strong local suppliers for the neighbourhood in a sustainable dimension. There are no plans for additional retail space.
Commercial and office space will be created on the floors above the department store. SIGNA is also planning a public roof terrace with restaurant and catering facilities. Spaces for culture and the arts are also to be provided.
“By creating additional space for offices and public-interest utilisations, we’re securing the attractiveness of the location and creating more foot traffic,” Herzberg says. Traders in the immediate vicinity (e.g. the weekly market on Hermannplatz) stand to highly benefit from this new dynamic.
Uses of the historical fragment for the public interest
The historical fragment from 1929 (item 1 in the illustration) will be renovated and modernised in accordance with regulations for listed buildings. In future, it will be made 100% available for public-interest uses such as local initiatives and associations, social and educational services, families and children. These spaces – amounting to a total floor space of 3,600 m² – will be offered at affordable rent levels.
Affordable rental apartments in the old building
The old building (item 2 in the illustration) will also be renovated and modernised. This is where 1,500 m² of affordable rental apartments are to be built in a non-profit arrangement.
Public competition for ideas for courtyard area
The area in the rear (item 3 in the illustration) is to be designed communally using a public competition for ideas. “We imagine a typical Berlin mix of utilisations here, including businesses, active ground floors, green spaces and mobility offers,” Herzberg explained. The existing multi-storey car park and parking lot will be replaced by underground parking and logistics areas.
SIGNA continues to focus on dialogue and aims for participation
“With this updated proposal, we want to create a living, diverse mix of utilisations. This diversity is a condition for the department store’s attractiveness and for securing its future,” Herzberg says. In further detailing these ideas and visions, SIGNA continues to rely on a dialogue-oriented, communicative exchange with politicians, official authorities, Karstadt employees, local businesses and residents. “We strive for an early participation process coordinated by the public authorities according to the “Guidelines for Citizen Participation in the Urban Development Processes”. The only way that a Karstadt of the future can function is by working with the structure that has evolved in the neighbourhood,” Herzberg continued.
‘NICHT OHNE EUCH’ (‘NOT WITHOUT YOU’) information format launched
SIGNA will begin to use other communication formats on various channels and levels to provide information about the project, e.g. on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram under the identity “NOT WITHOUT YOU”, on a newly designed homepage at and with various events and activities.
About SIGNA Real Estate
The SIGNA Group, founded by Austrian entrepreneur René Benko in 1999, is a privately owned investment company with a focus on the real estate, retail and media sectors. The Group is one of Europe’s leading real estate investors with a portfolio of unique assets in prime locations.
With a current project volume of 12 billion euros spanning ten locations in Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Luxembourg, the SIGNA Group is one of the most significant real estate developers. The company is one of the dominant investors in the attractive real estate property markets in German-speaking cities. In close cooperation with local authorities, SIGNA Real Estate focuses on sustainable urban development, future-oriented utilisation concepts and unique architecture. At the beginning of 2019, the SIGNA Group decided to expand its real estate activities to the US market, and it acquired the legendary Chrysler Building in New York.