HafenCity Hamburg GmbH

Development process

For Hamburg, HafenCity is not merely a major real estate development in which individual projects must be completed as quickly and efficiently as possible - urban quality is supposed to be created, too. This is why HafenCity Hamburg GmbH pulls the strings, overseeing all activities as a public manager of development, property owner and developer of infrastructure (except the subway)

Aerial photo shows Am Sandtorkai / Damlmannkai quarter

The development process is already well advanced in the Dalmannkai quarter (© ELBE&FLUT) Start slideshow

Development process

HafenCity Hamburg GmbH pulls the strings, overseeing all activities as the city’s manager of development, property owner and developer of infrastructure (except the subway).

Since October 1, 2006, HafenCity has had so-called priority area status: all zoning plans are discussed by the Commission for Urban Development set up for this purpose, representing all political parties in Hamburg’s City Parliament. Building permissions are granted by the Urban Development Ministry.
Since the aim is to set international standards for conceptual and architectural quality, it is very important to attract investors and developers willing to cooperate in setting high quality standards and in treading innovative paths.

Tenders are invited for plots scheduled for residential use; the competition result is decisive. It is not the highest bid that is successful – the crucial factor for awarding the contract is the quality of the use concepts submitted. Sites for office buildings are not generally processed this way. Instead, companies planning to staff 60 to 70 percent of a building or site for their own purposes can apply to HafenCity Hamburg GmbH.    

Exclusive options ensure quality

Whatever the type of land use, the necessary ratification by the Land Commission is followed by an exclusive option period with an obligation to plan. The investor/user then has to proceed, in conjunction with the City of Hamburg, with an architectural competition, may commission site surveys, and has to prepare for building approval. Throughout this process, HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, the authorities and the buyer remain in constant dialog.

The advantage of this process for the developer is that financing of the purchase price is postponed until after the building permit is granted; until then it has adequate time to hone the quality of its product, secure finance and perhaps acquire additional users. At the same time the city retains its ability to ensure the building’s quality by intervening during the development process which lasts for one and a half years after award of the option, thus ensuring that the originally submitted use concepts and time schedules will be adhered to, since the purchase cannot go through until the building permit is received. This encourages cooperation – with both city and developer optimizing risks, costs, quality and time scales.

For Hamburg, HafenCity is more than a major real estate project in which the individual undertakings need to be realized as quickly and efficiently as possible – rather, within the context of a new definition of city, the end product is intended to be exemplary urban quality.