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Red-Green campaigners target Messe Hamburg for potential social housing site

The Hamburg Morning Post (MOPO) has reported a dispute over Messe Hamburg between the Mayor and left wing politicians who have demanded the building of new apartments instead of “empty exhibition halls”.

Mayor Peter Tschentscher rejected calls by the small left wing alliance pursuing the fight for social housing to be built on the fairgrounds.

The left wing campaigners said they planned to submit an application advocating the relocation of the Messe and the construction of 2,500 apartments.

“In a huge area in the middle of the city, half of the year is filled with yawning emptiness,” claimed Heike Sudmann, urban development spokeswoman for the group. “Areas for housing construction are being sought all over Hamburg, large green areas are being paved and residential areas are being densified to the limit of what is reasonable. But in the middle of the city, right in front of the Mayor, lies a completely underused area with optimal train connection!” MOPO quoted Sudmann.
The Messe has a leasing contract to operate the tradefair with the city authorities until 2034. The campaigners claim documents show individual exhibition halls were used for events between 90 and 177 days last year.

Messe Hamburg disputes the ‘empty halls’ allegation and tells CMW there is an occupancy rate of over 40%, which when you take out weeks for renovation and recognise that some halls can’t be sold when others are in operation, the venue is close to using its capacity at full level. 

The venue spokesperson also pointed out that Hamburg Messe und Congress made revenues of €104.3m in 2018 by selling 1.2m sqm of space and welcoming over 14,000 exhibitors and 722,000 visitors.

MOPO pointed out that in years 2020 and 2028, the city could, in theory, exercise its purchasing rights to the site which they estimate at an annual leasing rate of €20m plus interest.

The housing campaigners claimed that building housing on the exhibition grounds would save millions because of the already complete infrastructure, including the subway connection in the district of St Pauli.

Sudmann has pledged to take her Red-Green campaign over the head of the Mayor to the State Parliament. “If the Red-Green citizen majority accepts a ban on thinking without complaint and does not even want to talk in committee about the future of the fair, that would be pathetic,” MOPO quoted her as saying.


Photo: Hamburg Messe und Congress / H. G. Esch, Ingenhoven Architects

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