Services for HafenCity: from hairdressing to dentistry

Services now available in HafenCity cover everything from finance to health and wellness. Yet the bond between service business and customer is often much more than a normal business relationship in this new part of town

Photo shows hairdresser Melanie Brüncker at work in her salon

Melanie Brüncker doesn’t just live in HafenCity; she also runs the first hairdressing salon in the district. Her business is already in profit, two years after she opened (© Bina Engel) Start slideshow

When hair stylist Melanie Brünker, 27, moved to HafenCity from the suburb of Billstedt two years ago, she was convinced from the start that this was where she should open her own salon: "It was important to me to contribute something to my new neighborhood.  And there wasn’t a hairdresser at all - even though everyone needs one."

And she found suitable shop premises right opposite her home in Kaiserkai. Now that home and workplace are so close to each other, it requires a certain amount of self-discipline, says Brünker: “I have to pull myself together a bit in the evening to stop looking at and thinking about the salon.” But the opportunity of having one’s hair cut or investing in a new hairstyle just a few steps away from home is obviously attractive because a good number of HafenCity locals are using her salon - Brünker is seeing a return on her business much faster than she expected.

Many of the new service businesses are already fulfilling a local demand and finding that residents and people working locally are increasingly aware of what they have to offer. And the inherent attraction of HafenCity means that clientele from other parts of the Hamburg city area are seeking them out too.

Some people come to HafenCity especially to have their hair cut, others for a medical appointment in one of the district’s modern practices. Even waiting rooms, like that of dentist Christian Urselmann, 34, are places to meet. In May 2008, he and his wife Eveline opened their practice in Kaiserkai, having moved from Ottensen. Dental technician Thomas Graf also has a workshop on the premises.

The practice premises were specially designed by interior design acquaintances of the couple. All treatment rooms look out onto the Magellan Terraces and Traditional Ship Harbor. "I hope that helps to distract the patients a bit," grins the dentist. The couple’s business expectations have been "completely fulfilled; the response has been really super," Christian Urselmann says. The practice team is delighted and surprised at their patients’ reactions: "The feedback has been very good - and private contacts quickly develop," comments Eveline Urselmann. "People here are really interested in one another and in making friends - we’ve already been invited to several birthday parties of patients. It’s unusual for dentists to experience that response!"

But of course HafenCity is not just any city district. That is why many people offering services do not want to leave it at that. They also want to do their bit and contribute to the emerging new urban quarter.  Ivan Pucic, for example, is convinced that his branch of the Hamburg savings bank Haspa is a special one: "Many businesses and residents feel like pioneers here, which is why they muster the necessary pioneering spirit."

In the meantime, the new part of town has gained its own momentum - which Pucic and his team of four is happy to support. For example he offers help when there is a party to organize in the neighborhood, or with the accounting for non-profit organizations in HafenCity. In the case of the organizers of Spielhaus HafenCity e.V., Haspa even made a donation. "To us it’s important not just to be the local bank, but really to be part of the neighborhood," says Pucic.