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Settlement with profile: 300 hectares of future in Marzahn

A new Zukunftsort with an industrial tradition and growth potential is emerging in north-east Berlin

“We could have filled the park three times over,” says Lukas Becker, overall project manager for the CleanTech Business Park Berlin-Marzahn (CBP) at WISTA Management GmbH (WISTA). The state-owned operator and business development company has been responsible for the development and marketing of the park since April 2021. Water buffalo are still grazing here at the moment. As WISTA’s experience in Adlershof shows, sustainable success at the site requires two things above all: staying power and a well thought-out strategy. And this may also include water buffalo for landscape conservation. Lech Suwala from the Technical University of Berlin agrees. He heads the Department of Urban and Regional Economics at the Institute of Urban and Regional Planning. “We are talking about a period of 15 to 20 years before we can speak of a networked future location in north-east Berlin. Attracting companies is just the first step.”

Marzahn, which comes from the Slavic language, means settlement on a marshland. Before the GDR decided to solve the “housing issue” here in 1973 by building industrially prefabricated apartment blocks on a large scale – the so-called slab – there were isolated industrial settlements and, in particular, infiltration areas next to an old town center. There are many prejudices when people talk about Marzahn. However, the current plans point in a different direction: the marshland is to become a Zukunftsort. The borough is historically the youngest of Berlin’s twelve districts. It is home to around 260,000 people, is green and still relatively affordable compared to the rest of Berlin. This attracts young families – into owner-occupied homes or into the slab.

Tierische Zwischenmieter: Wasserbüffel pflegen derzeit den CBP Marzahn. | © Lukas Becker

Marzahn also has a lot to offer economically. But even many residents know very little about what is now coming out of the district. Between the small river Wuhle in the north, Märkische Allee in the east and Boxberger Strasse in the south, there are numerous global market leaders and start-ups, craft businesses and almost 200 industrial companies. Knorr-Bremse Systeme für Schienenfahrzeuge GmbH built a comprehensive service and logistics center at the Marzahn plant. Customers from Germany, Switzerland and Poland, for example, are supplied exclusively from the central warehouse in Berlin. Hasse & Wrede GmbH is the world market leader in the production of torsional vibration dampers for diesel engines. And the CleanTech Business Park Berlin-Marzahn is right in the middle of it all. At 90 hectares, it is the largest contiguous and still largely undeveloped area for manufacturing companies in Berlin and is intended to offer future-oriented companies with clean technologies and sustainable products a place where they can grow.

“Companies from the fields of environmentally friendly energy, sustainable mobility and water management, raw material and material efficiency or green chemistry, for example,” explains Lukas Becker, describing his most fundamental and difficult task in marketing: the profile of the location. If the park is to function, companies that conform to the profile must be located here. “To achieve this,” says Becker, “you not only have to think about the 90 hectares of the park, but also the total of 300 hectares of the surrounding commercial sites – the entire Zukunftsort CleanTech Marzahn.”

Becker has enlisted help for this. Lech Suwala is a specialist in urban and commercial development processes and has also closely observed the development of the Adlershof Science and Technology Park over the last 20 years. Suwala and his students took a close look at the Zukunftsort CleanTech Marzahn and developed a preliminary package of measures. He has identified more than 200 profiling companies in the vicinity of the CBP. “However, the Adlershof system is not easily transferable,” says Suwala. Rather, it is necessary to act in a locally specific way and also take up traditions. It would also be desirable to establish an affiliated institute of a university and create dual training opportunities for skilled workers and the next generation of employees in the specialized, science-related technology companies.

As a first step, communication and networking should help: within the companies, between them and beyond the location. “All players need to be sensitized,” says Lech Suwala. “In the short term through ‘round tables’, a ‘Long Night of Businesses’, summer festivals or stands at the nearby S-Bahn stations. In the medium term through joint trade fair appearances and in the long term through business locations 2.0 that integrate the neighborhood. It won’t work if we don’t take the people of Marzahn with us.”

First ideas are now being realized. “Most local companies are very open-minded and are discovering the potential and added value of a joint presence and the resulting networks,” says Lukas Becker. A brand message is developed. The access road at the CBP – previously a cul-de-sac with a turning area – will be extended and connected so that the plots can be divided into smaller parcels with their own access roads. “The demand is there,” says Becker, “the first contracts are in sight.”

“Great for roller skating.” Becker still remembers his first impression of Boxberger Strasse, which adjoins the CBP and is also home to several world market leaders. Today, the district is on its way to becoming an attractive place to live and work. And the Marzahn business administration is also optimistic. Their brochure bears the promising name “Best prospects”.

From Rico Bigelmann for POTENZIAL


Lukas Becker
WISTA Management GmbH
+49 30 6392-2365


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