Frankfurt: Luxury domicile for dizziness


Frankfurt Construction site elevators are not for people with fear of heights – even if the metal cage is closed on three sides, as in this case, and also looks rather sturdy otherwise. Anyone who overcomes – and is reasonably free from giddiness – will be generously rewarded on this summer day.

After a slightly rumbling ride, a broad view of Frankfurt stretches out at a height of almost 100 meters: to the north, one looks out over the treetops of the adjoining Grüneburg Park, in the distance the mountain ranges of the Taunus glimmer; The financial district towers to the south, the legendary Messeturm to the west, the ECB skyscraper to the east. On the 26th floor you still stand between bare concrete columns, but the spectacular view alone gives you an idea: the apartments on this floor of the "160 Park View" high-rise will be among the most expensive in Frankfurt.

In fact, buyers must be free from giddiness in financial terms. The 129 condominiums between 42 and 123 square meters cost an average of 10,000 euros per square meter. At best, buyers pay 8,500 euros, the most expensive apartments cost 20,000 euros per square meter. Despite the well above the Frankfurt average level – the analysis house vdp Research recently determined for the Handelsblatt a value of almost 5,000 euros – the apartments are apparently selling well.

95 apartments and thus 70 percent of all price categories have already been sold, says Daniel Reichwein, Managing Director of the project developer Hines Germany. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, the international real estate company is developing the project in Frankfurt's West End together with real estate investment group RFR of New York and London-based real estate fund company Revcap.

The residential tower is not the only one of its kind currently being built in the banking city. As determined by the real estate analysis house Bulwiengesa, more than 3,260 apartments will be built in Frankfurt by 2020, towering high into the sky. The "160 Park View" on Grüneburgweg with its almost 100 meters is by no means the highest, in which one can live in the city in the future. The residential skyscraper of the four-building ensemble "Four Frankfurt" on the Große Gallusstraße will measure 173 meters. And with 172 meters only slightly lower is the "Grand Tower" in the European quarter.

The new lifestyle product

For some years already a "known idea is breathed new life", describes the real estate expert Thomas Beyerle, research chief at the real estate company Catella, this trend. The reason: "Vertical living offers itself in response to the steadily rising demand for housing in the central locations of German cities."

In fact, not only in Frankfurt is built in the height. Berlin has also moved in and, with its planned 2,900 apartments in high-rise buildings behind the city by 2020, is ranked second in the German high-rise residential project list. 54 percent of the more than 10,000 planned high-rise flats account for the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany and the capital.

The residential towers of the new generation are fundamentally different from those that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s, mainly on the periphery of the big cities and often developed into social hot spots. "Today they are almost exclusively created in the centers of major German cities – and they are no longer living machines, but have become lifestyle products," observes Beyerle. They are almost exclusively luxurious and are aimed at wealthy customers who usually purchase individual condominiums.

Shell of the "160 Park View"

The office building was completely gutted.

The "160 Park View" had a specific buyer clientele in mind. "We have tailored our product in apartment size and floor plan to owner-occupiers," says Hines manager Reichwein. So for buyers who will permanently move into their own home instead of renting it to third parties or using it as a second home. Apartments for investors are usually smaller.

The concept seems to be working: 60 to 70 percent of the existing customers would have bought a home on the Grüneburgweg for themselves and the family – and after all acquired an average living space of 100 square meters, says Reichwein. Unlike in the "Grand Tower": There, according to the marketer JLL Residential about half of the buyers were investors. In addition, more than 50 percent of the "Grand Tower" apartments were purchased by foreign buyers, especially from the Asia-Pacific region. Only about one fifth comes from the Rhine-Main area.

Expensive conversion

The comparatively high proportion of buyers who themselves want to move into their future apartment on Grüneburgpark could not least have to do with the location of the building and its history. The former office building is located not only directly on one of the city's most popular green spaces, but also in the midst of a residential area of ​​the Westend in the time of the Gründerzeit – a unique place that today would hardly take the high hurdles of the approval process. Construction began in 1975, which was later shut down for exceeding the permitted height.

Only ten years later and under a new owner, the house got tenants and his name – "high-rise building on the park". After several changes of ownership in 2016, Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs, who emigrated to New York, acquired the property with their company RFR. Shortly thereafter, the cooperation was concluded with Hines and decided to convert the building consisting of two connected buildings into a residential building and a hotel. "After a planning phase, we submitted the building application at the end of 2016," recalls Tobias Riik, Managing Director of RFR Development in Frankfurt.

It took a whole year to get the approval and start the extensive renovation work – a complex and, above all, expensive process. "We have to adapt the static conditions from the 1970s, but above all fire protection and sound insulation, to today's requirements," reports Riik. Reinforced concrete ribbed ceilings, suspended ceilings with vibration dampers for sound insulation decoupling, new staircases installed. "Such a refurbishment costs more than a demolition with a complete new building," adds Hines manager Reichwein. There was a simple reason for opting for the conversion, however: at this point, the chance of obtaining the same level of approval for a new building was rather small.

The new owners of the apartments on the 26th floor can thus enjoy a rather unique view. An argument that has apparently convinced: The penthouses with four-meter-high ceilings are sold.

More: Trend Quarter 2019 – Why growth forces Frankfurt to be more creative.

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