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Urban redevelopment in the Bahnhofsviertel

Stadtumbau Bahnhofsviertel Frankfurt am Main gemäß § 171 a BauGB

Urban revitalization, Housing
District: Local district:
Size of area:
52 ha
Project management:

Mr. Tobias Kurtz
fone: +49 (0)69 212 30418

Project description

Reason for planning
Given its central location the “Bahnhofsviertel”, the district around Frankfurt’s main station, has always had formative impact on the city as a whole. With its prestigious buildings dating from the turn of the 20th century the district has a particular standing in Frankfurt. Furthermore as the location of numerous international cultural venues and spaces it is of regional and national importance. With its above-average proportion of residents and tradesmen with a migrant background, the “Bahnhofsviertel” has a function that extends far beyond the city limits as regards the social integration of immigrants.

Nonetheless, for several years now there has been a continuous decline in the number of residents. Originally built as a prestigious residential and commercial district, empty apartments, shops, and offices, as well as the decay of the precious building fabric are all very much in evidence in several parts of the district. In some areas, problematic conditions caused by various forms of usage and milieus have all served to an ambivalent image for the quarter in the public eye.

Development district
The “Bahnhofsviertel”, which covers approx. 52 hectares, is located centrally between the main station, the trade fair complex, downtown, and the residential areas Westend in the north, Sachsenhausen in the south, and Gutleutviertel and Gallusviertel in the west.

Planning objectives
Together with the central location, the potential of the buildings in “Bahnhofsviertel” offers considerable opportunities for redeveloping the quarter. Precisely the vacant buildings come into question in this regard. A holistic strategy has been devised to make “Bahnhofsviertel” more attractive as a residential district and improve the compatibility between living there and traffic. That said, the existing facilities used by the drug-dealing scene and the red light district must also be taken into account. Public and private open spaces will be upgraded and new usage concepts developed for buildings that are standing empty. The plan envisages preserving the unique character and diversity of the “Bahnhofsviertel” but enhancing its image in a way that its residents, the city in general, and visitors can easily recognize.

Project progress


  • Implementation of ongoing urban redevelopment projects
  • Preparation of the completion of the overall measure by the municipal authorities

2019: End of the active funding period for the overall urban redevelopment measure in the station district

2005: Inclusion of the station district in the federal and state urban renewal program "Urban redevelopment Hesse" with additional funding opportunities for implementing the urban development concept

2007: The funding program is increased to a total of 20 million euros after the program is successfully utilized (funds were available until 2019)

2006: Framework plan becomes part of the integrated urban development concept for the future urban redevelopment process

2005: Implementation of the concepts for redesigning the station district in the "Living in the station district" framework plan


  • Examination and public discussion of concepts for redesigning the station district in an ideas laboratory with owners, residents and experts
  • Adoption of a municipal funding programme to strengthen residential use in the station district in the amount of 10 million euros with a focus on modernizing apartments and converting office space into residential space

Information on the project published by the City Planning Department

More information

Bahnhofsviertel funding guideline

Kaiserstrasse 58, © Stadtplanungsamt Stadt Frankfurt am Main

In the 2004-21 period, the City of Frankfurt made a total of € 20 million available for housing measures in the form of the “Bahnhofsviertel” funding guideline. The objective behind the funding was to provide incentives for investments and thereby enhance both the quality of accommodation in Bahnhofsviertel and the district’s overall appeal. Priority was given in this context to reducing the level of vacancies.

The funding enabled not only the invaluable fabric of buildings to be preserved and new life to be breathed into vacant residential buildings. It was also used for converting empty offices into residential space. Thanks to the funding over 300 apartments were reintroduced to the housing market. Of these, approx. 200 were new apartments.

Examples of funded projects:

58 Kaiserstrasse
The former Kaufhalle department store at 58 Kaiserstraße has long been history. After the 1970s building changed hands in 2009, initial considerations tended towards gutting it and converting it for residential purposes. In 2010 these plans were rejected in favor of a project that in terms of design was far more high-end.

Above retail premises on the ground floor, 38 up-market apartments with an elevator will now be built here. Partial greening of the roof of the retail section will add greenery to the courtyard. All the apartments boast either a balcony or patio. The existing basement will be retained and converted into an underground car park. As part of the “Bahnhofsviertel Funding Program” some of the apartments will be funded with municipal subsidies.The project was completed in the second half of 2013.

Wiesenhüttenplatz 37, © Stadtplanungsamt Stadt Frankfurt am Main

37 Wiesenhüttenplatz
The former police station on Wiesenhüttenplatz stood empty for a long time. As early as 2008 the idea was mooted, together with the Frankfurt/Main students’ union, to build student accommodation there. In 2010, with funding from the municipal “Bahnhofsviertel Funding Program”, based on a design by the architectural firm Ferdinand Heide, work began on converting the former administration building. This work has now been finished. A total of 48 student apartments were built; these have been rented out since July 1, 2011. In addition to the apartments there is a communal room, which opens on to an attractively greened courtyard, thereby providing the residents with various pleasant forms of recreation. In the bustling “Bahnhofsviertel” district, this project has increased the attractiveness of the astonishingly tranquil Wiesenhüttenplatz further still.

Münchener Strasse 38, © Stadtplanungsamt Stadt Frankfurt am Main

38 Münchener Strasse
The listed corner building at the intersection of Münchener Strasse and Moselstrasse was erected around 1900. Having acquired the property in 2005, the owners planned to dedicate the building (which had most recently been used primarily as office space) to residential purposes. With financial support from, among others, the “Bahnhofsviertel Funding Program”, and in close collaboration with the Monument Protection Authority of the City of Frankfurt/Main, the extensive refurbishment measures were conducted between 2006 and 2009 and embraced:

  • restoring the richly decorated natural stone facade in line with the stipulations governing listed buildings,
  • creating a total of 10 spacious residential units from the first floor to the roof, in some cases with the addition of balconies and roof terraces,
  • refurbishing the historical staircase in the original style,
  • fitting an elevator.

A total of approx. 1,100 sq.m. of attractive residential space was created here, all of which was already occupied shortly after the work was completed. Furthermore the commercial premises on the ground floor were likewise modernized and used for a new purpose.

46-48 Moselstrasse
In the past, the building from the 1950s was utilized both for commercial and residential purposes. As a result of changes in use, in addition to offices, furriers’ workshops, the attendant storerooms, and apartments had all been created. From 2009 until 2010 the owners conducted extensive refurbishment work on the building. The existing residential units were modernized and the previous commercial space on the 1st-8th storeys converted into residential space. The ground floor is still used for commercial purposes. At the same time, in order to improve the lighting, the front façade was refurbished and given a contemporary look. Approximately half the residential space created was funded by the “Bahnhofsviertel Funding Program”. Following completion of the work in July 2010 the building now boasts a total of 68 one and two-room apartments.



City of Frankfurt Contingent Fund for Areas that come under Urban Development Promotion, © City of Frankfurt Planning Department

Zur Stärkung eines gemeinwohlorientierten Engagements stellt die Stadt Frankfurt am Main den Gebieten der Stadterneuerung ein Budget (Verfügungsfonds) für die Durchführung von lokalen Kleinprojekten und Maßnahmen zur Verfügung. Durch den Fonds soll bürgerschaftliches Handeln im nicht-investiven Bereich eigenverantwortlich und unbürokratisch ermöglicht werden.


Urban renewal projects

Playgrounds at Karmeliter School and Weissfrauen School

The redesign of the playgrounds at Karmeliter School and Weissfrauen School was of particular importance with regard to the living conditions of the children and youngsters in “Bahnhofsviertel”. Given the discontinuation of a playground on nearby Wiesenhüttenplatz, the makeover was intended not only to meet the needs of the two schools better in the future, but also to enable them to be used by the public. The planning procedure for the redesign went ahead in close collaboration with the two schools and local initiatives. During lessons the children at Weissfrauen School came up with ideas for their playground, while the pupils at Karmeliter School produced models in an ideas workshop. This planning process enabled the pupils to be directly involved in the development of the concept. Based on these concepts and the results of the participation of the pupils, and indeed the parents and teachers as well, viable plans were drawn up. The conversion work was completed in spring 2009 and the playgrounds then re-opened to the pupils and children in “Bahnhofsviertel”. The playground is also open at weekends and in the school holidays, when it supervised by Internationale Kinderhaus des Evangelischen Vereins für Jugendsozialarbeit in Frankfurt e.V.

School yard at Karmeliter- und Weissfrauenschule, © Stadtplanungsamt Stadt Frankfurt am Main

District traffic plan

An important aspect of the urban development concept adopted by the City Council is to focus on the public space, roads, and plazas in “Bahnhofsviertel”. In this context numerous wishes and suggestions were formulated. Any meaningful approach to issues relating to road design always presupposes that the various traffic aspects are taken into account, and thus external traffic planners first compiled a district traffic plan.
One of the main recommendations in the plan is that pedestrians and cyclists be given greater consideration on all roads. Widening sidewalks in particular can play a considerable role in increasing the attractiveness of living environments. The plan also makes numerous proposals which would require changes to the current road system.
On account of the complex interaction in the local traffic structure, as well as in some cases in that in the city as a whole, initially plans for individual measures are being planned and executed. These include in particular the remodeling of  Karlsplatz and Taunusstraße, which is being conducted by the Department of Road Works and Development.


Makeover of Karlsplatz, Karlstrasse, Niddastrasse

The public space in “Bahnhofsviertel” is shaped by a street grid dating from the turn of the 20th century, with continuous perimeter blocks and several plaza-like widened at the intersections of roads. There are only a few open spaces. For want of sufficient open space the quality of the public domain acquires particular importance. Following the modernization of François Mitterand Platz and Wiesenhüttenplatz, Karlsplatz is now to be the third plaza in the district to be upgraded through remodeling.
The remodeling of Karlsplatz is intended to make it make more attractive and, by including road space, create additional usable space. The number of lanes on Karlstrasse, for example, will be reduced to the benefit of the plaza, while between Karlstrasse and Niddastrasse, and between Niddastrasse and Moselstrasse road narrowing and speed humps are envisaged.
The existing outdoor hospitality facilities are to be retained and possibly expanded, and the transformer building integrated in the remodeling of the plaza.
Now that in-depth planning has been completed construction is set to commence in beginning 2019.


Space around and tower of Weissfrauen parish church

Weissfrauen parish church in “Bahnhofsviertel” was built in the 1950s on the piece of open land on the corner of Gutleutstrasse and Weserstrasse. Standing detached on the plaza, together with its belfry on the sidewalk, it is an unmistakable symbol in “Bahnhofsviertel”. Nowadays, however, the open space around the church, which is unusual for the district, is scarcely recognizable. Thick fencing separates the church square from the road and cuts through the open space in front of the church. Even in the courtyard behind the church, fences and walls separate various areas from one another.
This is set to change, such that the corner and the free space around the church are opened up again. The WESER5 social welfare center in particular, which provides assistance to people in particularly hardship, such as a daytime meeting point, street social work, a social advice center, emergency overnight stays, transitional accommodation, has long been striving to be an open corner rather than a problem corner.
Taking up both trains of thought, the Regional Protestant Association and the Municipal Planning Office, in joint discussions with neighbors from the basis artists’ center, the Merkez mosque, and the Hotel Nizza, developed a concept for dismantling social and built barriers and opening up the corner to life again.
By the simple instrument of taking down the metal fencing, walls and closed gates, building a uniform surface, and creative highlighting of specific sections of the areas, a high-quality open public space that meets the different requirements of its various users will emerge. Opening the gates during the day creates additional open space for those who frequent it, and visitors to the district.

In addition to the redesign of the open space, an artistic intervention by Andrea Büttner on the church bell tower draws attraction to the venue, debating the public and cultural character of the present-day Weisssfrauen parish church. The tower will keep its function as a belfry, while at the same time serving as an art space, a place where art meets social reality. Here, in the church premises, the various welfare services WESER5 offers is coupled with an artistic, spiritual, and socio-cultural addressing of current social phenomena. Construction is was set to commence in the second half of 2013.
The first stage of work on remodeling the plaza, the plans for which were compiled by a consortium comprising Sichau und Walter Architekten and Ute Wittich Gartenarchitektur and were based on the interests of the church and local residents, was completed in December 2012. The second stage, the area in front of the church, was completed in 2014. The urban planning firm Sehlhoff GmbH oversaw the planning of the second stage.

The remodeling of the open landscape and the artistic redesign of the tower is jointly financed by the European Union (from the European Regional Development Fund) and the State of Hessen (in conjunction with the Urban Renewal in Hessen program).


Basis creative center

At 10 Elbestrasse the basis e.V. runs a studio building and exhibition rooms as a creative center. Young artists pay a reasonable rent for studio space and in the exhibition rooms socially relevant, international contemporary art is presented in a local and international context. The association’s initiative promotes and strengthens the networking between cultural players and artists. Since the association was first established, 10 Elbestrasse has become a focal point for artistic activities of local and national importance. Funding from the Urban Renewal Program have enabled additional rooms to be made fit for use for the association’s activities and exhibition spaces to be expanded. Furthermore the modernization of the entrance area and improvements to the sanitation facilities take the public’s increasing interest in the association’s artistic activities into account. This way the association plays a role in advancing “Bahnhofsviertel” and improving its image. Based on the positive experience the association has gained from its activity on Elbestrasse, a second project saw the building at 12-14 Gutleutstrasse being converted into studios. In this larger building simple means enabled spacious rooms to be created with diverse opportunities for artistic output and exhibitions.

Kaiserstrasse market

The weekly market on Kaiserstrasse plays a valuable role in revitalizing “Bahnhofsviertel” and making it attractive. For more than ten years now it has been tempting visitors and workers to spend time in the public domain.
The original market was held two days a week on the section east of Moselstrasse, but this was changed to make access to the premises in the area easier. Now, every weekday, in addition to the terminus end of Kaiserstrasse, the stretch between Moselstrasse and Elbestras is used for the market.
As part of the Urban Renewal in Hessen program, the provisional electricity supply for the new market place has been replaced by underground electrical distributors. These ensure the market’s technical operations and take the special design of Kaiserstrasse into account.

Funding incentive for greener courtyards

Moselstrasse 6 - seating area, © Stadtplanungsamt Stadt Frankfurt am Main

Frankfurt’s Bahnhofsviertel district is a densely populated urban quarter; some 95 percent of its surface area is sealed. The countless private courtyards are one of the main reasons for this, as the majority of them are concreted over. Extending the areas of vegetation is of prime importance for the quarter, as it will not only enhance leisure quality, but also improve the microclimate. Consequently, when redesigning public zones priority is attached to extending the amount of vegetation areas, where possible. As regards privately-owned properties, on the other hand, the greener district project hinges on the willingness of home owners to participate.

Privately-owned unbuilt areas (courtyards, flat roofs of annexes, façades) tend to be subject to competing possible uses (e.g., green zones or parking spaces), which is why purposeful planning is key if existing potentials are to be recognized and put to good use.

The City of Frankfurt wishes to assist interested property owners and condominium associations in finding the best suitable and individual solution from among an abundant variety of greening options for their courtyard. In addition to removing sealed surfaces and landscaping courtyards, options include greening roofs and façades or embellishing courtyards that have an underground level with large trough planters.

Moselstrasse 6a - facade, © Stadtplanungsamt Stadt Frankfurt am Main

To this end, in 2013 the City of Frankfurt’s municipal authorities resolved the “Funding policy for subsidies for greener courtyards” scheme. As part of the incentive, the City of Frankfurt assists property owners and condominium communities with advisory services and grants to make their courtyards greener.

The maximum subsidy is 85 percent of the eligible costs of 150 per square meter of redesigned courtyard surface. This amount is capped at 20,000 maximum per project and property.

In addition, landscape architect Mr. Victor Kamphausen will act as the greener cities consultant on behalf of the City. The services he provides include, in addition to advice in conjunction with the funding incentive, assistance with applications and drawing up draft designs.

For information on the funding procedure please contact

Frau Marina Knippel
Stadtplanungsamt, 61.S2
Tel.: (069) 212 47793
E-Mail: marina.knippel@stadt-frankfurt.de  


Frau Stephanie Doering
Stadtplanungsamt, 61.S2
Tel.: (069) 212 33751  
E-Mail: stephanie.doering@stadt-frankfurt.de


Structure of the urban redevelopment

Integrated development concept

In order to integrate the renewal of the “Bahnhofsviertel”, the district around the main station, and the various efforts to promote it into a long-term process, it was brought under the aegis of the “Urban Redevelopment in Hessen” urban renewal program. As a basis for this urban redevelopment, an integrated development concept for the “Bahnhofsviertel” was devised in an open process, known as an “ideas lab”, with the involvement of the residents. It embraces approaches to the main features of the overall redesign of the “Bahnhofsviertel”. These then get subdivided into individual projects which are continually implemented in the urban redevelopment process.

Between 2007 and 2017 a consortium made up of BSMF mbH from Frankfurt/Main and Berlin’s S.T.E.R.N. Gesellschaft der behutsamen Stadterneuerung mbH was commissioned to manage the urban redevelopment process. The assignment involved calibrating, updating, and implementing the urban development concept, with a further focal point being the supervision of measures, moderation and mediation, and public relations. Set up as early as the preparatory stage, the district office at 16a Gutleutstrasse (formerly 6a Moselstrasse), continued to operate until late 2017 and served as a district drop-in and information center.

Steering group

Stadtsalon bhf4tel in der basis (Februar 2018), © bb22 (2018)

A steering committee was established in the course of realizing the “Bahnhofsviertel” urban redevelopment. This acts as an advisory council, in which relevant institutions, initiatives, and lobbyists from the district are represented. Given their specific knowledge and interests, each can input information and make recommendations for the course of the urban development process. The steering committee was set up in May 2008 by the City Councilor responsible for planning and convenes four times a year.

Urban Lounge

Logo Stadtsalon, © Stadtplanungsamt Stadt Frankfurt am Main

After more than ten years of the urban redevelopment program, the period of active funding of the urban redevelopment in the Bahnhofsviertel project has come to an end. The City Municipal Authority is increasingly preparing the conclusion of the measure as a whole. Urban redevelopment projects already being conducted will be completed, but no new projects will be begun.

With a view to supporting the positive development process in the quarter beyond the period of funding, in particular with regard to self-organization, the Urban Lounge BHF4TEL has been held in the Bahnhofsviertel at regular intervals since January 2017.

The Urban Lounge BHF4TEL is a local round table that is open to anyone interested in the Bahnhofsviertel quarter. It provides a platform for information, discussion, and involvement.

Devoted to various topics, it is held on the fourth Wednesday of the month in the basis Frankfurt reading room at Gutleutstrasse 8 – 12.