Once a drain field, now a location creating future innovation
Nadja Zivkovic, district councillor for business, roads, and parks in Berlin’s Marzahn-Hellersdorf district, on the plans for the CleanTech Business Park Marzahn (CBP)
When you think of Marzahn, do you think of 1970s concrete panel buildings and ageing residents?
Nadja Zivkovic: These are but some of the stereotypes one can have of Marzahn. Those who know Marzahn-Hellersdorf slightly better know there is more to it than WBS70, the Socialist-era large-scale panel building estates, and the high-risers in the north. It’s also home to the largest single-family home area in Europe across Biesdorf, Kaulsdorf, and Mahlsdorf, and the ‘Gardens of the World’. Granted, the district has a cracked image — that of an emerging district and the fastest-ageing district. The Marzahn-Hellersdorf district celebrated its 40th birthday last year and the people moved in then grew old with it. At the same time, Marzahn-Hellersdorf has parks covering an area of 1,200 hectare. Compared to Berlin’s city centre, this is a leafy area where the cost of living is relatively low. This attracts young families — whether to a semi-detached house or the ‘Platte’, the panel building estates. We can tell by the rising demand for school places that we are being overrun.
What was there before Marzahn?
This area was originally home to the drain fields of the sewage treatment plant Falkenberg. Then there was a demand for space to build manufacturing plants in Berlin, which spawned the idea to create a business park on the former drain fields. When the funding came in, the area was made fit for purpose. This area now covers 90 hectares and is the largest connected area for manufacturing companies in Berlin. It can be divided into two portions: one belongs to Berlin’s water company, Berliner Wasserbetriebe, and the other is owned by the State of Berlin.
Ninety hectare for manufacturing companies and prospects for relevant future industries. Which new companies are you aiming to attract?
Whenever I visit companies in the district, I realise that 40 percent of their staff come from Marzahn-Hellersdorf. Everybody loves a short commute. This is something the district administration wants to promote: attracting companies that relate to the lives of the local citizens. This is what gave way to the idea to attract companies that produce sustainable products using clean technologies. Companies that are fit for the future and here to stay.
Sales have been slow. Why do you think that is?
We kicked off sales in 2016 with the help of two very committed employees. However, this wasn’t as fruitful as we’d hoped. Selling properties isn’t necessarily the everyday business of a public business promotion agency. Which is why, the district office decided to hand over sales tasks to WISTA Management GmbH and its subsidiary WISTA.Plan in summer 2019. We have been working together very well right from the start, and, since earlier this year, WISTA has taken over sales to a significant degree and works closely together with the district’s business support department.
What are you hoping to achieve?
One the one hand, there’s WISTA’s experience in Adlershof and the other ‘Zukunftsorte’ locations. On the other hand, WISTA makes us more visible and we benefit from their contacts. It has been a very good experience so far.
Your website promises an inspiring and unique environment. What does that look like?
One of the advantages of cooperating with WISTA is that it has made us one of Berlin’s ‘Zukunftsorte’, places creating future innovation. Last year we jointly developed a distinctive profile for the area, which was invaluable to us. Together with team in charge of Berlin’s ‘Zukunftsorte’ initiative, headed by Julia Neuhaus, we analysed the area. This resulted in setting the common goal of attracting a higher education institution — and were working hard to achieve it. Another decisive change was to waive the initial decision to only sell or lease properties over ten hectares. The fact that we’re now selling much smaller properties is more in tune with the needs of our potential customers.
The idea came up in 2011, almost ten years ago. If you look ten years into the future, where is the CBP then?
The adjacent Boxberger Strasse is a good example. Ten years ago, it still had many vacant spaces. Now there are 39 companies in those spaces. One of the advantages of the CleanTech Business Park is that some of properties are still up for sale. The State of Berlin’s real estate policy basically favours hereditary ground leases — luckily, in this area, for a period of 65 years. The shortage of space in Berlin works in our favour, despite of the suburban location, or maybe because of it.
Interview by Rico Bigelmann for Potenzial – The WISTA Magazine
CLEANTECH BUSINESS PARK MARZAHN (CBP)
- Size: 90 hectares
- Operator (as of October 2020):
WISTA Management GmbH
Rudower Chaussee 17, 12489 Berlin
Phone: +49 30 6392-2200
Fax: +49 30 6392-2201
Rudower Chaussee 19, 12489 Berlin
Phone: +49 30 6392-3918
Fax: +49 30 6392-3901