Problem child no more: Hanover’s Expo site to become a new top location

February 27, 2019

Some of the Expo's facilities have maintained their presence since Expo. For example, the Finnish pavilion with its characteristic "birch forest" in the inner courtyard is today the almost fully-let Finbox office centre; and the former Belgian pavilion, today the Peppermint Pavillon, is the studio of music producer Mousse T. and an events venue, not least for local celebrities. And the Pavilion of Hope, better known as the Expowal, managed to establish itself as an events destination and exceptional church venue in the meagre years since the Exposition.

Hanover hungry for new space

In this climate, the Expo site is now getting a breath of fresh air. The latest landmark project is the Chicago Lane Office Suites, just south of the whale. Up to 13,000 sqm of high-quality building space is to be created here, including 500 to 800 sqm of food service / restaurant space, behind a golden façade. The current tense situation in the real estate markets is clearly an important driver, with space in Hannover becoming just as scarce as elsewhere. For instance, the vacancy rate for office space has fallen steadily since 2012, to reach a low of 3.2% at the end of 2018, driving up the prime office rent to €17.00 per sqm. The revitalisation of the Expo site is therefore entirely in line with the needs of the region. But this should not dampen enthusiasm, as it is not the first time that good things emerge out of necessity.

Strong economic location

Why Hannover? It is no secret that Hannover is sniggered at by several of the other major cities. A cliché that is disproven by the actual data situation. The city’s population density is greater than Hamburg and the region is home to 1.2 million people, almost as many as the whole of Saarland. This provides the necessary economic strength. Retail sales, for example, are in the Top 5 in Germany. Young talent is recruited from the 14 higher educational institutes with over 49,000 students. And despite all the ups and downs of recent years, Hannover is still one of the leading international trade fair locations and the host of major trade fairs such as Hannover Messe Industrie, EMO, Agritechnica, EuroTier, Domotex and the IAA Commercial Vehicles.

Urban life moves into the Expo site

Fertile soil, therefore, to bring renewed splendour to the Expo site right next door to the trade fair grounds. And that's exactly what's happening. In the vicinity of the emerging Chicago Lane Office Suites, various companies have already created a lot of office space for their own needs, along with other projects for let. Ongoing developments will add another 50,000 sqm of office space over the next five years. Numerous student apartments have also been recently built there. After all, to the north there are many university buildings near the TUI Arena, especially those of the creative arts. The aim therefore is not to create a purely "office city", but a vibrant district. For example, a new building with 200 micro apartments will contribute to this. And retail is also opening up the area in all price and demand categories, from an IKEA to a Ferrari dealership.

The overall urban planning strategy is also contributing to the vitality of the newly rediscovered Expo site. There is no way that a detached satellite town would thrive here and therefore the gap to the east of the site will be filled by the new Kronsrode district: a project that quite appropriately is being promoted under the claim "Outside in the city". The Chicago Lane Office Suites will transform this idea into tangible structural substance: from the roof terrace you have a view from the green countryside to the heart of the city. Working, studying and living in a modern and attractive environment is the spirit of the times. This is a sustainable showcase project for modern urban development.

Dominik Talhof
Team Leader Office Leasing Hannover