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Downtown Höchst Support Program

Revitalization of downtown Höchst as a residential and business district

Urban revitalization, Commerce
District: Local district:
Size of area:
area covered by the master plan about 57 ha
Project management:

Ms. Anne Lederer
fone: +49 (0)69 212 34403

Project description

Reason for planning
Many people still know the district of Höchst on account of the industrial park on the site of the former Hoechst AG company. Yet Höchst has much more to offer! It has a vibrant old town that boasts Frankfurt’s largest self-contained set of half-timbered structures; these old houses have been protected by a preservation order since 1972. Höchst was a town in its own right until 1928; if you stand on the banks of the River Main what you see is a marvelous historical ensemble consisting of the castle, town wall, the Church of St. Justinus and Bolongaro Palace. For various reasons, Höchst is suffering from dwindling significance, however; this has also spelled a decline in its economic fortunes. Factors that have played a role here are competition from the expanding Main-Taunus-Zentrum shopping mall, the fact that the local authority headquarters has relocated away from the city, and lastly that the main gate to the industrial park has been moved further southward. Yet Höchst offers excellent qualities as a residential and business location which needs to be preserved and expanded in line with the thrust current urban development.

For this reason, based on studies of the district’s structure, the masterplan identified the linkages, deficiencies and opportunities in Höchst. It served as the basis for the 10-year municipal Downtown Höchst Support Program, which the City of Frankfurt put in place in 2006. After running for ten years, in 2018 the support program was extended for a further five years, whereby the emphasis was changed.

The City Council resolved in mid-2018 its “Guidelines to Support the Redesign of Commercial Ground-Floor Areas as well as Upgrade the Business Environment in Downtown Höchst”, which replaced the existing support guidelines for subsidies for modernizing existing housing. After almost two and a half years, the guidelines were partly changed and adjusted on Dec. 10, 2020 on the basis of experiences gained in the consultancy process. Alongside clarifying content, the grants available for modenrizig facades of non-listed buildings were increased.

Development district
The area in question is bordered by Leunastrasse in the west, the River Main and the River Nidda in the south, Russingerstrasse and Bolongarostrasse in the east, and Ludwig Scriba Strasse and the railroad tracks in the north.

Planning objectives
The aim behind continuing the support program support is to strengthen the central function of downtown Höchst in the field of retailing, commerce and services while also augmenting the district’s quality as a housing and business. Quarter for broad sections of the populace.
Alongside its central function as a commercial hub, the following additional functions are key:

  • Point of identification
  • Cultural center
  • Meeting place, center of integration and communication
  • Mobility hub
  • Place for housing, work, and leisure

Financial incentives for structural investment are intended to make ground-floor commercial premises more attractive, consolidate established facilities, and eliminate vacant premises. The investments will play a role in preserving invaluable urban fabric, enhancing the appearance of the properties, and strengthening the business environment. In addition to subsidies for measures to redevelop commercially used ground-floor premises, support is also available for measures in the public space destined to strengthen the business environment and communal activities intended to improve the image of downtown Höchst.

Project progress
June 2023:
The City Council approves the renewed extension of the grant program for two more active years and a follow-up year through the end of 2026

October 2010: The City Council resolves to amend the guidelines on support grants to redesign ground-floor commercial zones as well as upgrade the business environment in downtown Höchst

November 2018:  ProjektStadt together with the ammon + Sturm office are awarded the job of providing district management and modernization advisory services for downtown Höchst

June – Nov. 2018:  Pan-European tender process for handling district management and providing modernization advisory services for downtown Höchst.

June 2018: The Frankfurt City Council resolves

  • Guidelines for support grants to redesign ground-floor commercial zones as well as upgrade the business environment in downtown Höchst
  • Prior guidelines are annulled.

The idea: to strengthen the central function of downtown Höchst.

The objectives of the financial incentives for building investments are to:

  • make ground-floor commercial premises more attractive
  • stabilize proven usages
  • eliminate vacancies
  • preserve valuable building structures
  • upgrade the urban appearance of the properties
  • strengthen the business environment

December 2016: City Council resolution to

  • extend the grants program
  • provide more municipal grants support totaling € 10 million  

The decision was taken on the basis of findings of the evaluation that identified both success and ongoing structural deficits in Höchst.

April 2012 - Juli 2017: The project was supported in the form of district management by Nassauische Heimstätte Wohnungs- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft GmbH with its NH ProjektStadt brand

  • Key vision: to develop a multifunctional district center with local shops, housing, work, life, culture, and leisure time the key action areas
  • Realization: countless measures, such as establishing a tourism office or breathing new life into Mainmühle in the form of a café
  • Improving the district’s image: Campaigns implemented such as a postcard competition and the six-monthly design trail

2008 - 2018: Advisory services provided to prospective private builders by the architect commissioned for this task, Ms Lotte Plechatsch

  • Advice to owners of about 400 properties
  • 281 approvals of grants totaling some € 9.3 million

2008 - 2011: The Höchst district takes part in the EU MANDIE project with the objective being to promote and reactivate district centers

February 2008:
The City Council resolves support grant guidelines for the Downtown Höchst Support Program totaling € 21 million

The objective of the support grants was to:

  • Provide incentives for the investments needed to preserve and enhance the existing built urban fabric and the district’s profile
  • Augment the quality of downtown Höchst as a place to live
  • Contribute to a business center for broad swathes of the population

2006: The City Council approves

  • The masterplan
  • To launch a support grants program for downtown Höchst

2000: The City Executive is instructed by City Council resolution to update the masterplan compiled in 1990 and also draw up a district transportation plan and a concept for commercial management of parking spaces as the basis for future planning

jump to: City Planning Department Neighborhood Offices

Information on the project published by the City Planning Department

More information

District management and modernization advisory teams

The downtown Höchst neighborhood office serves as the center for local activities aimed at strengthening the location. 
All the liaison and advisory services provided by the district management and modernization advisory teams are free of charge and open to everyone.

Höchst neighborhood office, © Nassauische Heimstätte

The brief for the ProjectCity’s district management team is, as a “district agency”, to bring together spaces, people, and ideas. In particular, this includes the following aspects:

“District agency” for the use of ground floor premises

  • Management of vacant and commercial premises
  • Help for property owners to find tenants
  • Help with the search for premises for those interested in relocating to the district
  • Organization of interim uses for temporary vacancies


  • Handlesactivities aimed at image improvement
  • Motivates property owners and businesspeople to engage in joint activities
  • Networks social activities
  • Acts as contact for the subsidy of communal activities

“Dialog and participation"

  • Local presence and surgery in the neighborhood office
  • Function as an “ideas exchange”
  • Close collaboration with local players
  • Participation, presentation, and conflict management

The Höchst project team, from left to right: Dr. Jürgen Schmitt (ProjectCity), Anne Lederer (City Planning Department), Frank Ammon (ammon + sturm), Jenny Nussbaum (ProjectCity), © Nassauische Heimstätte

The brief for the modernization advisory team is to advise property owners and businesspeople personally with regard to making structural alterations to and enhancing commercially-used ground floor premises. This includes the following:

  • Advice with regard to identifiable structural and design potentials and shortcomings in existing buildings (use, layout, access, construction, condition and design of the facade).
  • Advice with regard to structural alterations aimed at improving the property’s function as commercially used space and improving accessibility.
  • Advice with regard to measures aimed at improving the private and public environment or at care of the cityscape.
  • In individual cases evaluation and advice with regard to technical and design solutions for the  layout, materials, construction, details, accessibility, energy-related improvements.
  • Advice with regard to the planning, preservation and other approvals required and to the economic viability and plausibility of measures.
  • Help with and advice on submitting applications for construction subsidies in line with the “Downtown Höchst” or other support programs.

Support by grants

On the basis of the guidelines to promote the redesign of commercial ground floor areas and to upgrade the business environment in downtown Hoechst, grants can be made to private and public applicants.

Measures for existing buildings

The central element of the Downtown Höchst Support Program is to provide grants for measures to redesign commercially used ground-floor properties. Financial incentives for investments are destined to help ground-floor commercial spaces become more appealing, shore up existing usages, and eliminate vacancies. Conversion and extension measures to modernize and upgrade commercial ground-floor properties including the establishment of operations that strengthen the central function of downtown Höchst are eligible for support. Moreover, funding can be provided to assist in the restoration of the frontage of ground-floor commercial properties, including measures to restore, replace or remove ground-floor commercial frontage with a view to enhancing the look of the streets – and this also extends to advertising infrastructure.

Grants have already been forthcoming or prepared for various measures. For example, support in meeting the conversion and modernization costs has been provided for the relocation of the Stage & Musical Academy Frankfurt to Königsteiner Strasse 17.

Measures in the public space

Measures in public downtown space are eligible for support if they serve to enhance the business environment. A distinction is made here between measures for surface areas (e.g., greening a space) and street furniture (e.g., planters).

The “Summer Campaign Area” on the Main riverside received a grant (for further information click “Other current projects”).

Joint community activities

In addition to building measures and measures in the public space, grants can also be provided for joint community activities. The organization and realization of events and measures by private and public initiators that contribute to improving downtown Höchst’s image are eligible for such support.

To date, funding has been granted, among others, for the Digital Vacancy Exchange (for further information click “Current projects”), the Christmas illuminations on Dalbergkreisel, Dalbergstrasse and Hostatostrasse as well as the Spring Creative Tour.

Facade guideline

The modernization advisory team has drawn up guidelines with regard to the subsidy of enhancement measures for the ground-floor frontage of commercial premises. Using existing buildings in Höchst, the guidelines outline which alteration work is suitable for enhancing the shop fronts. The refurbishments served as the basis of a workshop on October 19, 2019, to which all building owners and operators of commercial ground-floor facilities were invited. Using the sample images prepared, suitable enhancement strategies were discussed and a guideline for facade design formulated.
The guideline was published in 2020 an illustrated brochure and serves as a visual aid with regard to advice on the support program.

Current projects

Digital Commercial Vacancies Exchange

The district management office had already developed a digital commercial vacancies exchange. The instrument simplifies vacancy and commercial property management and is attractive in particular for the users. The Commercial Vacancies Exchange enables people seeking properties to immediately see on an interactive map whether there are suitable commercial spaces available in Höchst. They can then contact the owners directly or through the district management office. Owners can, in turn, enter their properties for lease on the platform and thus attract potential tenants more easily. Moreover, general inquiries by interested parties can be processed through the exchange. Indeed, it also offers information on possible grants for private investments in the framework of the Downtown Hoechst Support Program. The Digital Commercial Vacancies Exchange if a joint project of the non-profit Pro Höchst e.V. and the district management office; funding stems from grants for joint communal activities as per the relevant guideline. The exchange is hosted on the existing Pro Höchst Website: https://www.pro-hoechst.de/gewerbeflaechen/.

Local mobility and parking space study

An important measure as part of the Downtown Höchst Support Program is to commission an integrated study to promote local mobility and improve the structure of parking spaces in the downtown zone. Local mobility is understood here as non-motorized transportation, meaning above all pedestrian and cycle flows in the context of the various districts and quarters downtown. Not only environmental aspects play a role here, but explicitly also the fact that forms of mobility that are compatible with urban life stimulate the development of vibrant district centers. As part of a local mobility concept, the focus is on identifying the different user interests and evaluate them while factoring in the specific requirements.
Moreover, parking space is a topic that sparks a particularly large number of conflicts and leads to lots of criticism and discussions. The second module of an integrated approach to be outlined in the study will therefore initially be on parking space provisioning and actual usages and/or demand, and measures will then be specified in particular for a more functional structuring of stationary vehicles and better communication of available spaces. No classical traffic concept will be devised for this integrated local mobility and parking space study, and instead support will be brought in from a specialist office in an iterative process together with the responsible authorities, public entities, and departments and also with public participation.
The expected result will be a package of measures for downtown Höchst of which if at all possible the first measures that can be realized in the short term will be executed during the life-time of the Downtown Höchst Support Program.

In February 2022 the specialist practice “planersocietät” was commissioned to compile the integrated local mobility and parking space study.

It has since tabled a comprehensive analysis of the status quo. The situation as regards parking in sections of downtown Höchst were reassessed. Citizens were able to communicate their opinions on the traffic situation during on-location surveys and through a questionnaire campaign. Finally, in November 2022 all interested local citizens of Höchst and local businesspeople and staff were invited to an event at BiKuZ where they could voice their ideas on the future focus of traffic in downtown Höchst. The results will now be taken into account when devising the objectives and measures. A second public participation event in 2023 will then discuss the actual realization of the ideas.

Reorganizing the structure of traffic and parking for Höchster Markt

In recent years, the traffic and parking situation on Höchster Markt have been discussed on numerous occasions with local residents and market traders in the framework of the civic “Markt” working party.

What emerged in the course of these discussions was that positions varied considerably. What also became clear was that, for all the differences there was agreement on the fact that the current signage and organization above all of parking at the market is not satisfactory and in some places can be misunderstood. However, in discussions to date the assessments offered by the various groups on how the existing parking opportunities are actually used have been very divergent.

In order to obtain an objective basis for further discussions, in 2022 Büro Dipl.-Ing. Karin Weber Stadtplanung und Verkehrsplanung undertook a detailed analysis of the parking spaces. The study found that there is a need to reorganize how traffic and parking is structured at the market.

Subsequently, Büro Weber was commissioned to develop concepts for such a reorganization. The office devised four different variants, each of which is intrinsically coherent. The analysis and variants of the concept were presented in condensed form to Local Consultative Council 6 on Oct. 10, 2023. They were publicly presented and discussed on Nov. 13, 2023. Local Consultative Council 6 is expected to reach a decision on what gets taken forward soon.


Königsteiner Strasse

Königsteiner Strasse requires a new lease of life in order to strengthen its function as downtown Höchst’s key high street and as a place where people meet and greet. This new lease of life can only be successful if it brings onboard property owners and businesspeople as well as the Höchst public. In particular, when defining the shape the redesign is to take, the Mainberg area between Bolongarostrasse and the riverbank was to be included. It constitutes the shortest route between Königsteiner Strasse and the riverside, which is so popular with locals and visitors alike. As part of the Support Program defining this new lease of life and a dialog-based planning process will both be initiated and dedicated to exploring the potential for a makeover of Königsteiner Strasse.

As a first step, to this end a feasibility study on possible prospects for these zones was commissioned from Planungsbüro Weber – Stadtplanung und Verkehrsplanung. The findings of the feasibility study were presented and discussed, among other things at an info-booth on Königsteiner Strasse. Moreover, they went on display in the district management office and are available as downloads. However, the extensive redesign highlighted in the study requires a lengthy planning and preparation lead time that cannot be completed within the framework of the Downtown Höchst Support Program. For this reason, in 2022 an engineering company was onboarded to assess whether short-term measures can improve the functionality of the surfaces (sidewalk paving, pavement, floor mosaics, tree stumps, drainage gutters). Corresponding proposals have since been submitted and are currently being discussed with the specialist public departments. Suitable measures will then be realized as part of the Downtown Höchst Support Program.

However, the extensive redesign highlighted in the study requires a lengthy planning and preparation lead time that cannot be completed within the framework of the Downtown Höchst Support Program. For this reason, in 2022 an engineering company was onboarded to assess whether short-term measures can improve the functionality of the surfaces (sidewalk paving, pavement, floor mosaics, tree stumps, drainage gutters). Corresponding proposals have since been submitted and are currently being discussed with the specialist public departments. Suitable measures will then be realized as part of the Downtown Höchst Support Program.

Sponsored mobile benches: © Nassauische Heimstätte, photo: Stefan Krutsch

 Mobile benches for downtown Höchst

There are fierce discussions in many districts and quarters about seating in public spaces. A lack of outdoor benches, for example, deprives precisely families with small children or senior citizens of an opportunity to tarry a while when shopping or out for a walk. If there are benches, they often also get used at night and there’s then the danger that they develop into a meeting point for people stirring up trouble. Corresponding conflicts have arisen with regard to the benches on Königsteiner Strasse and in neighboring shopping streets such as Hostatostrasse. As the result of structured conflict moderation, in which, among others, Höchst’s senior citizens’ initiative, local inhabitants and shop owners participated, in addition to the “colorful benches” installed back in 2017 an agreement was reached to install mobile benches as an additional service. These mobile benches are destined to enable visitors to Königsteiner Strasse to relax during daytime but cannot be used at nighttime. The idea arose during a workshop of having businesses in the shopping streets in Höchst act as sponsors of the benches. During the day, the businesses thus place the benches outside their stores for anyone to use and when the respective store closes place the benches back inside the store safe and sound until the next day. Downtown Höchst was able to benefit from the local creative industry when it came to developing the benches. Design and furniture studio keinStil. In Höchst’s Kranengasse had already collated ideas for a mobile bench. These were then developed into the “urban-k” prototype. The bench can be moved as if it were a wheelbarrow, which enables it to be put in place swiftly and flexibly. At night, it can be stored in a store without taking up much space. At the same time, the bench can be used by its sponsors for advertising.

Benches have already been put in place in Königsteiner Strasse, Hostatostrasse, Bolongarostrasse, and in Badstubengase. The search is on for additional patrons in downtown Höchst.

Other current projects

Construction fence on Ettinghausenplatz, © Nassauische Heimstätte

Supporting the redesign of Ettinghausenplatz

The plan is in coming years to redesign the Ettinghausenplatz square in the framework of the “More Beautiful / Schöneres Frankfurt” program. The site has a long and colorful history of great significance to Höchst. Town wall, fortified turret, porcelain waste pit, and, finally, from 1805-6 seat of the Höchst synagogue, the second new build of which was destroyed in the course of the Night of the Crystals in 1938.

In this context, in 2020 archaeological excavations were conducted on the square. After completion of the excavation, the square was temporarily sealed again with a simple cover of asphalt. An open-space planning competition was launched in 2021-2 to solicit ideas and concepts for a new design for the square that also factored in the archaeological findings. At its meeting in March 2022, the competition jury chaired by Dr. Rena Wandel-Höfer from Saarbrücken awarded Frankfurt’s Meixner Schlüter Wendt architectural practice together with Wetzlar’s KuBuS Freiraumplanung the 1st prize.

Precisely given its history, Ettinghausenplatz is of great importance to many Höchst natives. As part of the Downtown Höchst Support Program, all Höchst citizens were therefore given an opportunity in an open participation format prior to the competition to submit ideas for the future character of the site. Documentation of the different suggestions and the debates served as inspiration for the practices that submitted entries. After the competition, an information event was also held, and the award-winning works and all entries went on display for several weeks in Höchst’s municipal library.

Until the square is redesigned, post-competition countless procedural steps are still necessary (planning, political discussion, tender for the construction services, etc.). During this time, the square offers much potential for an interim use.

Riverside summer activities zone

Riverside summer activities zone, © Nassauische Heimstätte

Since its redesign, the North bank of the River Main below the Old Town has evolved into a central location in downtown Höchst. What was hitherto lacking was an area which had the right surface and was duly prominent as to be suitable to host smaller events and activities. In this context, local initiatives and institutions in this district of Frankfurt, among them Initiative Frankfurt West, Tanzschule Weber and the director of Verwaltungsstelle Höchst, floated the idea of a “summer activities zone” on the riverbank.

The idea of the summer activities zone was realized in 2020 on the Main riverbank between Ochsenturm and the playground: The City of Frankfurt Planning Dept. shouldered the financing as part of the Downtown Höchst Support Program, while the Parks Dept. handled realization of the surface, and the District Management office coordinated use of the area. On June 19, 2020, the zone City Councilor Mike Josef officially handed over the area to the citizens for Höchst for them to use. The zone is intended for classical summer activities for which firm ground is needed beneath your feet, such as dancing, sports, etc. The zone can in future be used spontaneously by anyone interested but can also be reserved for one-off or regular events. To this end, a calendar has been uploaded on the Pro Höchst https://www.pro-hoechst.de/hoechst-aktiv/hoechst-freizeitbewusst/

Working parties

In the wake of the District Workshop in 2019 four working parties were set up which on a proactive and ongoing basis address topics relating to downtown Höchst.

The “Enhancing the Market / Marktplatz & Market Hall” working party concerns itself with ideas to expand the offerings in the market, to better advertise the market, to reorganize traffic flows on market days (access, parking spaces) and to redesign Marktplatz. The basis of all this, and all members of the working party concur, is that the market had great potential for Höchst and that the existing offerings must be maintained.

The objective of the “Urban Gardeners” working party is to make the urban spaces and plazas in Höchst greener specifically from the viewpoint of urban development in line with climate change. Moreover, the working party also feels it very important to create greened spaces typified by great biodiversity (e.g., that encourage bees) and where people gladly spend time. It seeks to encourage local inhabitants to participate in the various gardening activities and to involve local welfare and education institutions as sponsors for plants. Three beds have now been planted on Höchst’s market square. The idea of installing raised beds on Andreasplatz is still being decided.

The Altstadt Civid Association has for some time now put the topic of “Garbage and Cleanliness” on its agenda and has also actively contributed on the subject at the District Workshop and other events. This working party focuses on illegal dumping of heavy garbage or household waste in the green spaces in downtown and also on the current garbage collection routines and seeks to develop solutions in consultation with the specialist municipal departments.

The “Cycling” working party wants to improve the situation for cyclists in Höchst and make life safer for them. The plan is for Höchst to become a district in which people often and gladly use bicycles and where they can easily reach everything by bike. In this regard, the working party addresses various issues, such as the safety of cycle paths, the procurement of a cargo bike for Höchst and debating local authority and regional plans from a cyclist’s viewpoint.