RETAILWATCH Refurbishment project set to transform Berlin's heart

Right in the centre of Berlin, one of the most comprehensive and exciting refurbishment projects in recent years is taking place. Potsdamer Platz, a place steeped in history yet somewhat outdated, will be revitalised and made fit for the future.

An important cornerstone of the major project is the repositioning of the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden shopping centre. Brookfield Properties, Europe’s largest shopping centre operator ECE, and Mercato Metropolitano have joined forces for this venture.

Construction work on the 46,000 m2 Potsdamer Platz Arkaden began in April. No stone is remaining unturned in the quest to create Berlin’s newest top destination for shopping and dining. Brookfield Properties, the expert for real estate investments and globally active real estate service provider, serves as an investor and asset manager for the site. To ensure that the renovation work proceeds smoothly and that the centre can reopen on time in spring 2022, all stores – apart from a few shops selling daily necessities – have been closed since the beginning of the year.

‘It is our goal to create a lively, urban and contemporary place where Berlin tourists, theatre goers, office workers and Berliners feel equally comfortable,’ says Karl L. Wambach, Executive Vice President Europe of Brookfield Properties, asset manager of Potsdamer Platz.

‘We want to make use of the strengths of the location and create a focused brand, leisure and gastronomy offer for city and cultural tourists as well as office employees. It's good that things are about to get underway,’ he adds.

Potsdamer Platz is both the old and the new centre of Berlin. Just a stone’s throw from the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate, it combines first-class shopping with offices, residential buildings, and hotels with a thrilling mix of art and culture for tourists and Berliners alike. The site’s assets include the central location in the heart of the city, the outstanding accessibility, more than 2,100 parking spaces in its own car park, 30,000 office workers in the direct vicinity, and more than 110,000 visitors per day.

Shopping centre with international style
ECE, the European market leader in the shopping centre sector, is responsible for the reconstruction of the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden. The aim of the repositioning is to tap into the historical significance of the location and to offer visitors a varied shopping and leisure experience of international calibre. Once completed, the shopping centre will house around 90 shops and flagship stores of well-known brands from the areas of technology, sports and entertainment, science and beauty, mobility and leisure, as well as gastronomy.

The existing retail spaces on the upper floor will be completely removed for this purpose and replaced by impressive two-story facades to offer tenants new ways of presenting themselves and their products. The imposing glass roof, which connects the two building complexes, will also have to make way. In future, visitors will be able to stroll under the open sky.

The food and gastronomy options will be an important hub in the new shopping centre. High-quality and diverse dining options should attract numerous visitors each day. The focus is on contemporary, trendy, and new food concepts: around 40 gastronomic concepts and up to 25 other food suppliers in the community market concept of Mercato Metropolitano will leave visitors spoiled for choice.

For Steffen Friedlein, ECE’s managing director leasing, the concept is clear: ‘As a result of the repositioning of Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, Berlin is gaining a contemporary destination with international, upscale flair. We aren’t just creating a new shopping mall here, but a location that will offer unforgettable experiences and, as Berlin’s premier address for shopping and dining, will delight and inspire visitors again and again.’

Community market with Berlin flair
The highlight and heart of the completely redesigned shopping centre is dining: an indoor community market with freshly prepared, traceable, and handcrafted food from the best local suppliers and modern international restaurant concepts will be located on the ground floor as well as on the first floor across around 4,400 m2. The operator of the community market is Mercato Metropolitano, a new player in the German market. Founder and ‘Chief Executive Dreamer’ of Mercato Metropolitano, Andrea Rasca, is realising an idea never before seen in Germany.

Rasca founded his company in 2015 as part of a pilot project at the World Expo in Milan, with the aim of creating a counterpart to the large catering chains. In 2016, Mercato Metropolitano opened its first sustainable community market in London. The concept has been so successful that further markets will open in the British capital in the coming months.

The community market planned in Berlin is not comparable with the London models or ordinary food courts. It will be given its own individual Berlin twist and will offer high-quality and authentic food for Berliners and the capital city community, with a focus on local food. Thanks to the varied mix, there is something for everyone: visitors will find the best baked goods, fresh meat, and great cheese, as well as a local brewery on-site and a wide range of gastronomy and food from all over the world.

Mercato Metropolitano is leaving nothing to chance in the choice of food options. The marketplace specialist will put together the right selection with the greatest attention to detail.

However, the community market is more than just a place to eat and drink: Mercato Metropolitano complements the gastronomic choice with social activities and a wide range of events, courses, music, and artistic performances.

‘Such offers are part of our philosophy and will be central to our Berlin market. We want to break down barriers, bring people together and support communities. The opportunity to bring this philosophy to Berlin is truly important to us, considering the exceptional cultural diversity, rich history and innovational spirit of the city,’ explains Rasca.

The company sets great store by community involvement, start-up initiatives, and environmental and social inclusion campaigns at all locations. ‘We only use recyclable and compostable materials, without single-use plastics at all our locations. Our ultimate goal is to lead a waste, plastic and chemical-free economy, by offering to the community of citizens the best possible bio-variety of sustainable food which will satisfy their taste buds as well as enhance our own and Earth’s health,’ Rasca adds.

Curtain up for new worlds of experience
Jonathan Doughty, ECE director food, leisure, placemaking, is clearly delighted about the prospects for Mercato Metropolitano at Potsdamer Platz. ‘We want to turn the place into a culinary hotspot for all of Berlin. With Mercato Metropolitano as our partner, we are one step closer to this goal, and we are very excited that we were able to sign Mercato Metropolitano with their first location in Germany. They are modern, innovative, and will be the heart of Potsdamer Platz.’

For Doughty, the focus is on products and not on specific brands. ‘We want to have the best Italian restaurant, great Asian concepts, the best burger joints, cool bars, family-friendly all-day cafés, and so on.’ There should be no doubling up of offers. Together, the creators are making sure that the Mercato Metropolitano portfolio is not identical to the other concepts in the shopping centre and at Potsdamer Platz.

In addition to the shopping and dining options, customers now long for special moments and experiences that go far beyond shopping. The new Potsdamer Platz creates the space for this. In this respect, the overall concept is not simply a modernised shopping centre, but rather a strong leisure programme with an accompanying entertainment repertoire, which makes Potsdamer Platz and the shopping centre an experience hub. In this way, many different target groups from all over Berlin and beyond should be reached.

‘We are convinced that Potsdamer Platz will once again become a hot spot of Berlin and the cultural life of the city,’ says Wambach. In the newly opened club theatre, the show ‘Magic Mike Live’ celebrated its premiere in January. Cultural highlights such as the Blue Man Group round off the cultural programme.

In spring 2022, Potsdamer Platz, the energy epicentre of the German capital, and the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, will shine in a completely new light; this is when the extraordinary refurbishment project will reach its successful completion.

SAVE THE DATE FOR A RETAIL EVENT ON 1 DECEMBER, 2020
Following the very successful Food & Leisure Day in mid-September with around 100 participants from companies from all over Europe, ECE will be hosting another retail event. For more information: shop@ece.com.