Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Incentive paid for moving into old city housing - any good?

Just this morning the following grabbed my interest in the recent edition of the Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten (one of the two public newspapers based in Dresden, Germany):

"For moving into housing built before 1949 people will get a -one time based on the flat- bonus of 1.500 €. This is meant to encourage people from the outskirts of the cities into the closer city center areas." (article to be found here (in German))

In recent years just after the wall came down in 1989 there had been going on big discussions on how to renew the housing that had been sparsly renovated or kept intact during the GDR era. As there had been great need for housing in the early 90's most of the old housings in the city centers in Eastern Germany had been left alone in favor to renovate fairly newly built "Plattenbauten" (modern GDR-like flats) in the further out suburbs. As flat owner could earn money pretty fast in these renovated houses virtually nobody tended to move in the hold un-renovated houses in the traditional suburbs or the city centers. 

To foster the building of new housing in the traditional suburbs there had been established a special program in the last couple of years that allowed the owners of old buildings (often in the ownership of large exGDR building societies) to tear down these unrenovated buildings. For tearing down -sometimes even complete perimeter block developments quite intact despite ugly looking facades- these building societies could get tear-down bonuses as well as cancellation of the debts on these old housing.

Especially in the cities of the Eastern part of Germany that still have quite intact and dense old housing areas this practice had become quite common over the last 5-6 years.

The result was that people had to move into newer housing (even though just renovated housing from the 60's to 80's) way outside the city with the effect that they needed connection to public transport, supermarkets, etc.

Now the "fathers" of the former regulations have realized that it would be much wiser to make old housing areas to be more attractive for new movers and "make" owners willing to renovate their property in order to foster the "dying" city centers (and keep cost for transportation, shopping also lower as time needed for that as you live just around the supermarket or your workplace is saved a lot - doesn't that sound sustainable?).

I wonder whether this 1.500€ bonus paid to movers into old housing is enough to make these areas attractive to people behind the time of spending the 1.500€?

Richard Florida, a professor for business and creativity at the University of Toronto, favors strongly to keep the heritage (=old housings, company buildings) as this is the history of our present day and from where the future emerges.

Anyway, it is a first step to rething the planning of how a grown city can be fostered in the present and future.

What are your findings?
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