Friday, 25 July 2008

Another shopping arcade?

I present to you the Rhein-Arcaden. MFI, an Essen-based company specialising in shopping centre developments, presented this model to Weil's movers and shakers on Tuesday evening. This construction would supposedly replace the current Kaufring and also stretch as far as the Bahnhofstraße. It looks huuuge, but it's shape is also quite elegant. The final stop for the extended tram line from Basel would be incorporated into the building. This sounds like quite an ingenious idea. MFI say they would like the town to decide by November whether they want this new shopping centre. Construction on the project would then commence in autumn 2009, with completion scheduled for late 2011.

For the town authorities, this opens up a whole can of worms, of course. Firstly, you have the question of whether a town such as Weil actually needs such a complex. Second, is the project at all viable? Will it attract enough custom from outlying areas in Basel and Alsace? If it does, how will Weil cope with the extra traffic? Won't it rob the town's small businesses of their custom? On the basis of the model presented, it also looks as if the front of Hotel Leopoldshöhe will be hemmed in by a glassy shopping centre facade. What will the hotel's management think of that? More to the point, the Rebhus restaurant situated opposite would even have to be razed to the ground to make way for the diggers. Questions, questions, questions...

Personally, the main problem I see is the extra congestion on the roads this centre would generate. Don't get me wrong, this looks quites an exciting project. It could potentially revitalise Weil and give the town the focal point it has so far lacked. However, I anticipate a lot of gnashing and grinding of teeth among Weil's decision-makers before the project even gets close to the implementation stage.

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