PROGEDO presents: Cologne

Housing market Cologne

Change of perspective

In Cologne you can’t live on the “wrong side” of the Rhine. That’s history! The modern citizen of Cologne or new Cologne residents are directing their attention to formerly less trendy districts like Deutz, Kalk or Mülheim and dare to be different. Suddenly, Deutz and Mülheim belong to the popular districts with rising rental prices. “Deutz has become a hip place to live”, according to Thomas Tewes, managing director of the Cologne Private Property Association. There used to be an iron principle in Cologne, that one should live west of the Rhine – on the left bank. The “Schäl Sick”, the local name for the right bank of the Rhine, was the so-called “wrong side” and considered more of an attachment to the city.

Mülheim & Co. starting to roll

From 2009 – 2012, 1,349 new flats were built here in Mülheim alone. All around the Schanzenstrasse, television-production companies, marketing agencies and advertising agencies have found their new home in this “creative district”. The employees, wealthier than the native population are crowding into the area. This creative caravan is trailed by investors and speculators, a natural occurrence when a neighbourhood regroups and rents increase. The property sector is also very positive about Porz, located in the south-east, where parts of Wahnheide and Lind profit from the proximity to the airport. Even a “Veedel” – a distric with a dubious reputation, until recently characterised through industry is declaring itself: Kalk. The south of Kalk has special potential according to Roland Kampmeyer, owner of the estate Agent company with the same name. Housing completion is high. In 2009 – 2012 alone 1,468 units were completed.

Levelling off

The number of inhabitants in Cologne is expected to rise by 50,000 to roughly 1,1 million by 2020. Positive migration in Cologne is especially noticeable through young generations seeking affordable rents. As opposed to Düsseldorf, Cologne needs a yearly increase of 3,000 new apartments to compensate growth rates. As approximately 40,000 new Cologne residents are expected by 2030, completion of new housing districts must be undertaken without further delay. At the moment available housing lies way below what is needed. The city wants to close this widening  gap.  It doesn’t however want to strengthen the surrounding  vicinity , but is concentrating on densification. This means the gap should be closed within the city itself. 30% subsidised housing should be built on top for every 20 housing units. In comparison, Düsseldorf builds 20% for every 100 units.

Building space desperately needed

The Cologne Office for Urban Development and Statistics is feverishly searching for sites for 10,000 new apartments. A type of dragnet  search was implemented by department head Höing:  Meticulous screening of the city through investigators and planers raising alarm whenever commercial wastelands, gaps between buildings, expandable rooftops and sparsely built land plots possibly offering space for further buildings are discovered. Even the rooftop of a multi-storey car park in the Magnusstrasse, a busy east-west road axis between the Friesenplatz and the Cathedral was graced with 36 condominiums. The car park was redeveloped. The two top highest floors were removed and extended upward through residential levels. Two almost forgotten Projects are being revived: the transformation of the ports in Deutz and Mülheim to residential areas, based on the Rheinauhafen with its crane houses. These are however not intended to become luxury flats.

Luxury a la Kölle  

The cathedral city is allowing themselves a new prestigious housing development, the “Gerling – quarter” a luxury development of the Austrian investors Immofinanz, where once Hans Gerling and his insurance company housed. The new residents will have to do entirely without “Büdchen” as the people of Cologne call their refreshment kiosks or small corner shop after forking out 5,000€ per m2. Not that it really matters, as they are sure to find one somewhere between the Hohenzollernring, Friesen- and Christophstrasse. But you won´t likely be meeting the owner of the penthouse apartment with 330m2 there. He cut out two further contenders by offering almost 6 million Euros for it.

What do you get for 10 – 12 Euros? The best Cologne has to offer….

On the whole, Cologne is more expensive than its reputation will have it: The rent price level was higher than Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Berlin or Dresden in 2012. The cathedral city was only beaten by Münich and Stuttgart. The top addresses in Cologne are the Altstadt and the Neustadt North, Bayenthal, Bickendorf, Klettenberg, Lindenthal, Marienburg, Braunsfeld and Zollstock with  basic rent at around 12,00 € m2. The average rent at 11,00 € m2 can be found in the areas  Raderberg, Riehl, Sülz,Altstadt and Neustadt South,Ehrenfeld, Neuehrenfeld, Rodenkirchen, Deutz, Löwenich, Müngersdorf and Niehl. In the 10,00 € m2 league  you will find Nippes, Weidenpesch, Widdersdorf, Bilderstöckchen, Longerich, Mülheim, Ossendorf, Poll, Sürth, Vogelsang and Weiden. In all other „Köllsche Veedeln“ the average rent lies around 9,00€ m2 or less. For new buildings and excellently renovated old buildings, add an extra 20-25%.

In the surrounding area (>30 Km ) however, prices are falling. This phenomena is also familiar in Düsseldorf. Commuting costs time and money. Public transport and roads are jam packed, petrol in the long run expensive. In the Oberbergische region building has stagnated. The purchasing power of Cologne doesn´t advance this far, the population is regressing. The affluent suburbs, where good public transport is accessible profits strongly. Vibrant demand for property and living space is therefore in Hürth, Alfter, Niederkassel or Frechen. Other areas such as the Rhein-Sieg-Kreis and the Rhein-kreis -Neuss with the towns Neuss and Dormagen profit too.

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