Saarbrücken is a city of approximately 200.000 people located along the Saar River in southwestern Germany. It is the capital of Saarland, one of Germany’s smallest states. Historically, Saarbrücken has come under both French and German rule, and it was once part of the Holy Roman Empire. Heavily bombed in World War II, it came back as the industrial and transport centre of a great coal basin; it produces iron and steel, sugar, beer, pottery, optical instruments, machinery, and construction materials. During the post–World War II reconstruction, however, the city turned its back on the river.
Today, the city council is returning its attention to Saarbrücken’s beautiful waterfront and has developed a plan for its redevelopment. This plan calls for some significant capital projects. These include submerging the road next to the west side of the river to develop the space into a recreational area and redeveloping the Berliner Promenade (a pedestrian mall) on the east side of the river. The city has named the entire regeneration project ‘Stadtmitte am Fluss’ (SmaF), ‘City on the River.’
Although the regeneration is the responsibility of Gesellschaft für Innovation und Unternehmensförderung mbH (GIU), the city’s development company, the city does not have all the funds necessary to pay for the project. No investors have been approached yet. GIU and the city council need advice on how to fund the regeneration, both internally and through outside investment. Private money will be needed to realise the different parts of the SmaF project.
ReUrbA2 and GIU asked ULI to identify ways that the SmaF project can be funded. While the focus of the questions they asked the panel was on attracting private investment, the panel also looked at ways that the city could raise capital. Specific questions asked of the panel include the following:
• How can the city attract private investors to invest in SmaF, and how do investors benefit? Are they willing to invest in public improvements?
• What incentives, other than tax breaks or communal benefit payments—the city paying interest on money lent by private investors—can be given to investors?
• Why exactly do Dutch and other pension funds invest in long-term public profits? What do they get out of these investments?
• Will some private investors invest in such projects because they can easily profit from them? (For example, GIU is negotiating with a company that might be interested in developing and operating a car park underneath the Berliner Promenade.)