Redesign existing buildings on a grand scale to give them new purpose – the idea is anything but new. However, in the face of today’s – and tomorrow’s – challenges, this approach is currently experiencing a strong resurgence. What makes transformational real estate so exciting and attractive?Corporate Report (PDF)
Those who know the area rub their eyes in disbelief at Mariendorfer Weg in Berlin’s Neukölln district: the listed façade of the former maternity and women’s hospital is gleaming with new splendour. Where once the sick were treated and new citizens were brought into the world, many people have now found a modern home. This looked very different just a few years ago. From 2005 onwards, the hospital complex stood empty; since then, the once-magnificent buildings from 1914 have visibly fallen into disrepair.
In 2019, the large-scale project “Wohnpark St Marien” began the revitalisation of a rather attractive location.
The listed buildings of the hospital complex, as well as the former administration building, have been extensively refurbished and converted into housing space. The former director’s villa today hosts a childcare facility. To the north of the historical part, new residential buildings have been constructed, including student apartments. And that is how a “lost place” was turned into a lively quarter near the city centre.
Wohnpark St Marien is a prime example of a successful building transformation – and it is only one of many exciting concepts in the German capital, as demonstrated by our project selection. The trend towards converting existing buildings, currently a defining characteristic of the real estate sector, is very much in evidence in Berlin.
The concept of transformational real estate is clearly demonstrated by Wohnpark St Marien. The idea behind this is to open up existing real estate for one or often several new types of use through a more or less comprehensive functional and structural redesign as an alternative to demolition and new construction.
The buildings which can be considered for this purpose are diverse and range from warehouses to industrial buildings and former railway stations. Together they serve as a basis for creating modern, high-quality and sustainable living and working environments, while at the same time conserving the charm of traditional façades and architectural styles.
This development is driven by various economic, ecological and social as well as regulatory issues. Megatrends such as urbanisation and mobility, new work and sustainability are of particular importance in this context. Many eligible properties are located in an environment that has always been urban – they therefore have good accessibility, which caters to future mobility needs.
Inner cities, in particular, face special challenges anyway. E-commerce – and more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic – have together stressed the need for city centres (and, with them, traditional retail and office concepts) to reinvent themselves and open up to a wider range of uses. In this way, a crisis might become an opportunity for the revival of prime locations.
A change is unfolding in terms of sustainability and in view of increasing requirements for ESG criteria. While new buildings were previously perceived as the natural first choice in terms of energy efficiency, the holistic approach to real estate can lead to a different assessment. If, in addition to the energy consumption during the life cycle of the property, the embodied energy required for its construction is also taken into account, transformational real estate can have a better environmental balance overall. If the rising costs of building materials are considered as well, the reuse of existing buildings often also scores in economic terms.
In an ESG-oriented investment profile, there are therefore good arguments for transformational real estate. However, there are some special risks, too. Old buildings that have often been vacant for years or even decades might reveal certain surprises – with significant financial impact – when they are converted. Before the start of a project, all the alternatives should therefore be weighed up very thoroughly: tear down and reconstruct or convert and redesign? In addition, all relevant stakeholders should be involved at an early stage in order to ensure the social acceptance of the project. But courage and effort can pay off: successfully transformed buildings are innovative flagship projects – they stand out in their urban environment as well as in the real estate portfolio.
Wohnpark St Marien
Operation Hospital Conversion successful
From eyesore to shining light of the neighbourhood: the former maternity and women’s hospital in Berlin-Neukölln is experiencing a renaissance as an attractive place to live. Here, old and new buildings of different types blend into a harmonious setting.
headquarters of Commerzbank
Safe successfully opened
With its austere 1950s architecture, the buildings on the former Commerzbank site on Potsdamer Strasse in Berlin-Schöneberg seemed locked, almost like a safe. After the extensive makeover with structural adjustments and the construction of a new building with a modern design bearing the sonorous name “Wirtschaftswunder” (“economic miracle”), the building complex now appears more open and luminous.
A modern interpretation of architectural history
On a large construction site in Berlin-Kreuzberg, we can witness the revival of an architectural classic: the former Postscheckamt Berlin West is being transformed into the quarter “Die Macherei Berlin-Kreuzberg” with the visionary tower “M50 – The Design Tower” Exceptional concepts also characterise the two neighbouring buildings.
Property highlights in major European cities: pbb supports investors in Europe and the US with financing for challenging projects. Below you will find a selection of noteworthy transactions for our clients.
Office building complex
A remarkable roof
The Lichthöfe project is an office complex on Munich’s Denisstrasse, which stands out on account of its saw-tooth roof – a series of glass ridges, which flood the buildings with light – and is a true eye-catcher. The complex, located on a 2,500 sqm site, consists of four building structures with three verdant inner courtyards and will be completed by 2023. It offers an ideal working environment for the future tenant – a renowned international technology company.
As an institution based near Munich, pbb is providing a €83 million loan to MünchenBau Bauträger GmbH to fund this architecturally distinctive office complex situated in a central location near Munich’s central railway station. MünchenBau has been active as a property developer in the Bavarian capital for over forty years and is a major local market participant.
The Hanseatic “Lemon Slice”
Just over twenty years old and already an architectural classic in Hamburg’s city centre, this office complex designed by Hadi Teherani consists of a front building with a distinctive wavy façade and a semicircular rear. Due to its prominent shape – with a continuous glass façade – locals call the light-flooded office building “the Lemon”.
Prime location investment
For the acquisition of the office building, pbb has provided a loan of around €80 million to Institutional Investment Partners GmbH, a real estate company. The property, which offers around 15,000 sqm of offices and 140 underground car parking spaces in an outstanding city-centre location, is let to a major international internet company.
Mixed use property:
working – living – shopping
On the waterfront
Living and working with a view of the Vltava river and private docks, surrounded by lush greenery and only ten minutes away from Prague’s city centre – The Dock In offers all this. Development of the five-building complex in one of Prague’s prime locations began in 2013 and meets high quality and sustainability standards. The new quarter consists of office and retail spaces, along with more than 400 apartments. Many international companies have already moved into the four completed buildings as tenants.
pbb and Helaba have jointly provided a €130 million investment loan to Crestyl Group for refinancing of the Dock In Office Park. Acting as joint lead arrangers, the two financial institutions provided an equal share of the funding. In addition, pbb acted as facility agent and security agent for the transaction. For Czech real estate developer Crestyl, this has been the largest transaction with a syndicate of foreign banks to date.
retail – office
Ornamental elements and decorations on the façade give a hint of the late 19th century in which the “Ballet” was built. The magnificent seven-storey building is located in the centre of Paris, near the opera house, and is currently undergoing extensive renovation. The building comprises almost 10,000 square metres of rental space. Once the renovations have been completed in 2024, it will continue to be used as a mixed-use property: there will be retail space on the ground floor and offices on the floors above.
pbb’s acquisition and development financing has a volume of €173 million. After the refurbishment, the “Ballet” will not only shine in new splendour, but will also meet very high sustainability standards. Various certifications such as WELL V2 excellent, BREEAM RFO 2015 excellent and the WiredScore Gold label are being sought.
We want to bring new products to the market, expand our US activities and extend more green loans.
Chairman of the Management Board and
Chief Financial Officer
With investment markets recovering, we have significantly increased new business volume in 2021 – thereby continuing our strategy to focus on core properties and acknowledging some uncertainty regarding future demand for rental space.
Deputy CEO, Real Estate Finance and
Public Investment Finance
We focus on properties in good locations with stable cash flows and low re-letting risks. We also pay attention to professional investors with crisis management experience.
Member of the Management Board,
Chief Risk Officer
Supporting the change in the real estate sector towards more sustainability is a commitment to society and, at the same time, offers us business opportunities.
Member of the Management Board,
Awards, cooperation, ESG, green lending: What were the topics and events that drove pbb? A brief foray through the year 2021.Read more
We structure medium- to large-sized financings for professional real estate investors, with a focus on office, retail, residential and logistics properties. Our clients benefit from the mix of local and international expertise that we offer.Read more
employees end of 2021
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