• S. Loesser

'Ladenliebe': Stadt Aachen opens experimental rooms for new shops

The Stadt Aachen successfully applied for the "Sofortprogramm zur Stärkung unserer Innenstädte” (Immediate Action Programme to Strengthen Our Inner Cities) of the Land Nordrhein-Westfalen – NRW – and receives over €800,000 in order to strengthen the city centre and retail trade in times of pandemic.

For over one year Dr. Daniela Karow-Kluge and Kai Hennes have been the Stadt Aachen’s city managers. In the past twelve months, they have made the gentrification of Theaterplatz in the Reallabor, street art initiatives, pop-up stores and residents' consultation hours an integral part of their work.

The city management’s first year comes to a due end with the launch of the "Initiative Ladenliebe” (initiative shop love) , which will be financed with a grant of over €800,000. The money, which comes from the NRW "Sofortprogramm zur Stärkung unserer Innenstädte“, is to be used to revive vacancies in times of pandemic.

Oberbürgermeisterin (mayor) Sibylle Keupen hopes that "Ladenliebe" can help the local trade and gastronomy, "which urgently need support right now":

"With ‘Ladenliebe’ we can increase the attractiveness and sojourn quality in the city centre through new experiences and offers.",

the Oberbürgermeisterin is certain.

"Through the initiative, we have a great opportunity to shape the city centre and actively do something against vacancies. It is an offer to people with an entrepreneurial spirit who want to move the future with us. We can help them get started in these uncertain times.",

explains city manager Kai Hennes.

Revive vacancies, position the district and end the negative trend

In order to revive the vacancies around Holzgraben, Dahmengraben, Großkölnstraße and the Markt, some of the vacancies having lasted for years and others being due to corona, the city intends to rent up to ten vacant premises, which will then be sublet to new tenants at heavily discounted rates. The renting will only take place when interested parties apply for the premises and the concepts match the owners’ ideas.

"Especially in this part of the city centre, we can break the downward spiral and strengthen the neighbourhood by activating premises. We want to create space for new ideas and new businesses for up to two years.",

explains Hennes.

Especially these days, when the pandemic-related "Bundes-Notbremse” [as Meuse-Rhine Gazette reported] has also led to renewed retail closures in the Stadt Aachen since April 24, the offer is intended to be a forward-looking ray of hope:

"Every idea is welcome: from concept stores to creative industrial and cultural uses, retail and gastronomy offers, in principle, everything is possible. The aim is to create a positive impact for the entire city centre.",

explains Karow-Kluge.

Photo: (fLFT) Mayor Sybille Keupen, city manager Kai Hennes and city manager Dr. Daniela Karow-Kluge are looking forward to the "Initiative Ladenliebe". © Stadt Aachen/Andreas Hermann

City managers take over the coordination

The city managers will coordinate the "Ladenliebe" and talk to the vacant shops’ owners.

The Roos family, owner of a shop on Großkölnstraße, is happy to be part of the unprecedented immediate action programme:

"The current vacancies are creating big blank spaces in the city. That is why we welcome the Stadt Aachen’s initiative and, as owners, are happy to open the premises for a new sustainable offer. We are excited and look forward to seeing vibrant new ways of usage arise."

Oberbürgermeisterin Sibylle Keupen is already looking forward to a "colourful Aachen city centre":

"Through the "Ladenliebe" new concepts, offers and business ideas can be tested with less risk in times of Corona and establish themselves in a sustainable city centre."

Submitting utilisation concepts and ideas

The prerequisite for renting the premises is the owners’ accommodation regarding the rent. They reduce the most recent cold rent by at least 30 per cent. As subtenants, the new users then only pay 20 per cent of the cold rent plus utilities, based on the old rent. Tenancies of at least six months are desirable. The premises can be rented for up to 24 months at a reduced rent through "Ladenliebe".

Important information

Those interested can find out more about the initiative via the Ladenliebe official homepage. The available venues will soon be accessible there as well. From then on, it will also be possible to submit one's own utilisation concept. Until then, interested parties can contact the city management by phone or e-mail.

Stadt Aachen’s city management’s contact details:

Dr. Daniela Karow-Kluge und Kai Hennes

Tel: +49 241 432 7291

Email: citymanagement@mail.aachen.de

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