Hagen: What makes the city center vibrant?

Individual streets and quarters are to be modernized and the residents’ sense of security will be strengthened. What experts recommend.

Almost all downtowns are affected by involuntary, rapid changes – including Hagen. Consumers are increasingly shopping online, large department stores are also in crisis, and owner-managed specialty stores are hard to find. How to counter the desertification trend in the city center?

At the invitation of the South Westphalian Marketing Club, around 50 experts, entrepreneurs and individuals discuss this issue in the annual summer talks.

The main message that evening came from Christian Isenbeck, Managing Director of Elbershallen: “The city has to do this – this sentence no longer applies today. As a shop owner, I have to make sure that the entrance is nice and clean, ”emphasized Isenbeck firmly.

But first, the most important: the discussion event, which was held under the slogan “Vitalizing the Downtown”, started at M12. There, ie at 12 Mittelstraße, the former WMF store, which has been empty for months, is now set to become a transformed focal point. As part of the “City Center Immediate Program”, Hagen-Wirtschaftsentwicklung (formerly Hagen-Agentur) has itself rented the property on the Mittelstraße, the aforementioned M 12, which extends over two floors.

There is a tourist information and explorers’ lounge on the ground floor, and a space for co-creation on the first floor.

Instant program at the center

The “Immediate Śródmieście” program is to be an effective instrument to prevent vacancy in the city. The city has a hinged function and acts as an intermediary between property owners and potential new tenants, ”explained Kirsten Fischer, authorized signatory of the Hagen-Wirtschaftsentwicklung.

The old rent is reduced by 80 percent, so the landlord has to play as agreed and give up part of the previous rent. The NRW support program should enable start-ups and people with fresh business ideas to rent stores and gain a foothold.

Over the past few months, more than a dozen vacancies have been closed on Mittelstrasse and many new openings have been celebrated.

Contested point: Financing ends next year, i.e. at the end of 2023.

After visiting M 12, the participants of the summer talks began a short walk along the promenade, and finally had a discussion in the “Elbers 800 Grad” bar.

The question arose as to whether well-run downtowns would ever die.

Response? no.In any case, there must be a financially well-staffed marketing of the city that can function reasonably and effectively.

Christian Isenbeck listed three points as important for accelerating urban development: cleanliness, accessibility and safety. When it comes to cleanliness, Hagen is missing in many places, and wild posters do not beautify the cityscape. A sound public transport system is important to bring residents to and from the city center in the evenings and weekends, as well as a well-developed network of cycle paths. And the area of ​​citizens’ security needs to be more focused.

Isenbeck also stressed: “The alcohol and drugs scene is part of the big city.”

Leisure activities and events must take on importance

Anja Schulte from City Lab Südwestfalen, an association of 25 partner municipalities that jointly research city development, stressed that stationary commerce and e-commerce should go hand in hand, that trade, city development and business should jointly implement strategies for a vibrant city center and that leisure activities and events should become more important, “purported little things such as babysitting services when shopping and practical luggage storage should not be underestimated,” warned Anja Schulte.

According to your statements, Dr. Christopher Schmitt, new managing director of Hagen-Wirtschaftsentwicklung, says: “Online trading is getting stronger and better. Local retailers should therefore attract more attention through events such as the “Green Mile” with pallet sofas and DJ music, first held in Hagen a few weeks ago, as well as through weekly or after work fairs and hall concepts fairgrounds.

the shrinkage process cannot be stopped

All podium participants, including the moderator, prof. dr. Ebbo Tücking agreed that the shrinking process of the stationary trade can no longer be stopped and that the city can no longer exist thanks to shops alone, but must be increasingly supplemented by gastronomy, services and modern housing concepts.

Christian Isenbeck broke his lance for Hagen’s gallery. “Especially the Rathaus-Galerie, which was flooded last July, was a magnet.” However, the range of stores across the city is too limited and specialist stores are lacking.

Isenbeck praised the neighboring towns of Herdecke and Gevelsberg, which have managed to establish good connections between the inner cities and the new centers. “Of course, trendy neighborhoods such as Kreuzviertel in Dortmund and Essen-Rüttenscheid are also well received by residents and customers, although the modernization took 25 years there as well.”

The debaters agreed that in a large city there should be “small towns”, that is, particular attention should be paid to individual streets (eg Mittelstrasse).

Create tiny hotspots

Neighborhood development is just as important as urban development, “creating small hotspots would be a good approach” – recommended the interested guest. In Hagen, however, not all streets or neighborhoods are suitable for further development as hotspots, according to Christian Isenbeck, “for example, in the lower Elbe, the basification is already too advanced”.

What brought the event? The topics and approaches discussed in the evening should be taken into account in the future (internal) development of the city.

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