Even before the Corona crisis, stationary trade was not doing well. The lockdown could accelerate the decline. Some fear yawning emptiness in inner cities in the future. What effects the corona crisis will have on the cities of the future, on smart cities, is what smart city expert Dr. Frank Friesecke talks about in our series “The Smart City after Corona”. Friesecke is an authorized signatory of STEG, one of the largest urban development companies in Germany.
For the retail sector, the effects of Corona are enormous; many shops have already had to close or are in crisis. What needs to be done?
One of the biggest threats to city centres is certainly the disappearance of the traditional function of shopping, at least in the city, which first creeps and then is extremely accelerated by the pandemic. The competitor for the stationary retail trade is also already clear: online trade is the big beneficiary of the current crisis.
In order to prevent the city and town centres from becoming deserted, one of the aims will be to designate smaller core zones in which retail has priority over other uses. Outside these areas, vacant buildings must be put to a new use, either by conversion or by demolition and new construction. In growing cities, it will be residential use that will replace the previous retail use.
In many cases, however, quick, creative solutions are also required to mitigate the crisis: In Berlin, Boston, Paris and elsewhere, “pop-up street restaurants” have been approved relatively easily – restaurateurs are allowed to use adjacent parking spaces as extended outdoor terraces.
In order to prevent the final decline of the inner city as a supply location, it will be important to actively shape the structural change. The affected owners must act jointly in the same direction, and this will require new forms of cooperation above all. It is also clear, however, that the respective city administrations must play a leading role in the upcoming renewal. Read in the other episodes of the GEOMNIBUS series “The Smart City after Corona” what effects the Corona crisis has on the housing market, urban planning or traffic.
Interview: die STEG
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