A world of shopping on the waterfront

HafenCity is much more than an extension or complement to the shopping facilities of the current inner city: it offers new and sometimes location-specific shopping experiences that are all its own

Photo shows Dalmannkai Promenade in the afternoon sun

Both in its built landscape and under the open sky, HafenCity offers a range of shopping experiences - there was a conscious decision not to build a shopping mall (© ELBE&FLUT) Start slideshow

Already a familiar sight in HafenCity, particularly on Dalmannkai: women, men and couples window-shopping and laden with shopping packages. "It’s still an insider’s tip," says a young woman from the Hamburg suburb of Eppendorf, who’s planning to meet her boyfriend later for an after-work cocktail on the waterfront; he works in HafenCity. She’s just emerged from a thorough exploration of the Gaastra flagship store right next to the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall. This Dutch company specializes in lifestyle fashion with maritime flair. You can admire the store concept it has realized here - but not anywhere else in Germany.

And others will be following Gaastra’s example. Several international labels are planning a presence in HafenCity soon with a flagship store, but others will be opening a branch for the first time in Hamburg, or even in Germany. For many, the dynamic, urbane Überseequartier with its approx. 60,000 sq. m planned for shopping, dining and drinks is the ideal location. Here, as in the whole of HafenCity, it was decided to avoid a shopping mall concept. So rather than entering closed-in shopping worlds, shoppers here can enjoy a spree under the open sky in a maritime atmosphere.

So-called "innovation tenants" are also taking space in this heart of HafenCity. These are creative retailing concepts with appeal to the younger generation that are not normally realizable in premium inner city locations. But in Überseequartier there are generous sites available to them.

The idea is to have the special character of this new part of town mirrored in its range of retail opportunities. The basics, serving everyday needs (Dat Backhus, Schanzenbäckerei, Feinkost HafenCity, Harbour Tobacco), will be joined for example by concepts that reference the location itself: they pick up on the history of the place and use it as a vehicle for innovation. 

A pioneer in this respect is Meßmer Momentum, which has opened on Kaiserkai. Its concept reaches back to the history of the port as a tea trading marketplace. Meßmer, a tea trading house established in 1852, invites its clientele to take a fascinating journey into the world of this aromatic beverage. The 600 sq. m premises include a tea museum, a tea lounge and of course a tea retailer. Here you can look over the shoulder of "tea masters" as they create flavorsome new mixtures. Many of the tea varieties can be tasted in Meßmer Momentum at any time. "And I thought I was pretty clever to even know that there is white tea, along with black and green," says one visitor.

Retailing will make an important contribution to the atmosphere of the new district. Although it is primarily concentrated in Überseequartier, ground floors throughout the emerging district are reserved for retail uses; not even office buildings are an exception.

Unilever, for example, is breaking completely new ground. With its brand-new headquarters for German-speaking countries, the consumer goods concern is opening itself to the surrounding district: a publicly accessible mall runs right through the new building on Strandkai. This links the Marco Polo Terraces with open spaces on the banks of the Elbe. The shops include a Unilever outlet selling products from its various brands, a Langnese ice cream parlor with a summer terrace and view of the river, a Dove Spa for those brief or indulgent beauty sessions, as well as a demonstration kitchen.

Other companies are planning to follow this example. The new publishing building of the Spiegel group, for example, is making parts of its ground floor accessible to the public with retailing concepts - which brings it into a completely new dialogue with visitors, local co-workers as well as residents of HafenCity.