The property, a former department store with approximately 9,500 m² floor area and around 20,000 m² utilisation area, was purchased by Düsseldorf-based CENTRUM Grundstücksgesellschaft mbH from Highstreet, a Goldman-Sachs fund, in June 2007. Then, German retail property specialist COMFORT set about developing a brand new concept for the building with the assistance of Brunswick-based architect, Heiko Vahjen, who drew up the plans. Soon afterwards, the project team was joined by another co-investor, a Hamburg project development company called the B&L Group.
The COMFORT Group's concept, which also covered the subsequent letting of the property, envisaged the department store building's conversion into a commercial building with modern retail units that appeal to leading retail chains. It aimed to reposition the property by transforming it into a prime quality building with an attractive tenant mix that provides an interesting alternative to the "Neukölln Arkaden" shopping centre which opened in 2003.
The 102 metres-long department store facade was divided up into six retail units in sizes ranging from 530 m² to 2,400 m² on the ground and first floor and three retail units of between 90 m² and 1,600 m² in size in the basement which are connected to the ground floor by escalators.
The ease at which the retail units were subsequently leased out was convincing proof of how effectively COMFORT's concept reflects retailer needs. Long-term lease agreements have been concluded with all the anchor tenants that the project team had hoped to attract. "What a shame we didn't have a few more units," said Ronald Steinhagen, executive managing partner at COMFORT Berlin-Leipzig GmbH. "There was enough qualified demand for another two to three thousand square metres."
The units on the ground floor and first floor house attractive international labels such as H&M, Esprit, Edc, DM, TK-Maxx, C&A and the new Aldi store that has opened in the basement is a practical supplement. REWE-Citymarkt, the adjacent supermarket, was handed over the tenant so that it could implement own redevelopments and it will be opening slightly later than the other units at the middle of next month.
The initial feedback on sales revenue from tenants confirms that they are "way over budget". "We'd greatly underestimated this catchment area," admitted Sven Gröning, H