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Revaluating "Germany's worst street". Commercial gentrification on Leipzig's Eisenbahnstraße?

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Leipzig's Eisenbahnstraße in Germany is currently discussed from different points of view. Ethnicity, crime, but also urban growth and revaluation processes are in the center of the discourse. As one of the city's high streets, the Eisenbahnstraße and its two surrounding quarters show changes in the commercial structure, which are claimed to be gentrification processes. This paper aims to analyze both the process by using the concept of commercial gentrification and its local perception. This is done by mapping current commercial uses in the retail, service and gastronomy sector , categorizing them, and comparing them to secondary data. Apart from that, local stakeholder's perspectives are evaluated based on 16 structured interviews conducted with shop owners on the one hand, and a survey among 105 passersby on the street on the other hand. The material indicates that the Eisenbahnstraße is currently in an initial phase of commercial gentrification. This is displayed by diversification of supply and demand structures, represented by the arrival of new potential customers, but also by a diversification of business concepts. Apart from that, commercial activities experience a strong increase in the area and have led to spatial dispersion from the high street to neighboring roads. We argue that Leipzig's Eisenbahnstraße follows partially the East German gentrification path, as until now no displacement is identified, but the case also stands out due to the important role of ethnicity in commercial structures.
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18 DIE ERDE · Vol. 152 · 1/2021
Revaluating “Germany’s worst street”.
Commercial gentrification on
Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße?
Marcus Hübscher*, Felix zur Lage, Läticia Ertle, Kathrin Briem, Nadine Brucker
University of Leipzig, Institute of Urban Development and Construction Management, Grimmaische Straße 12, 04109 Leipzig, Germany,

* Corresponding author
Manuscript submitted: 08 July 2020 / Accepted for publication: 03 February 2021 / Published online: 29 March 2021
Abstract
Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße in Germany is currently discussed from different points of view. Ethnicity, crime, but also
urban growth and revaluation processes are in the center of the discourse. As one of the city’s high streets, the Ei-
senbahnstraße and its two surrounding quarters show changes in the commercial structure, which are claimed to be

   -

evaluated based on 16 structured interviews conducted with shop owners on the one hand, and a survey among 105
     





Zusammenfassung
Die Leipziger Eisenbahnstraße in Deutschland wird derzeit aus verschiedenen Blickwinkeln diskutiert. Themen
wie Ethnizität, Kriminalität, aber auch städtische Wachstums- und Aufwertungsprozesse stehen im Zentrum
des Diskurses. Als eine der Magistralen der Stadt zeigen die Eisenbahnstraße und die beiden sie umgebenden
Stadtteile Veränderungen in ihrer kommerziellen Struktur, die als  beschrieben wer-
den. Ziel des vorliegenden Beitrages ist es, mithilfe dieses Konzeptes die beobachteten strukturellen Verände-
rungsprozesse und deren Wahrnehmungen im Stadtraum zu analysieren. Dazu werden aktuelle gewerbliche
Nutzungen kartiert und mit Sekundärstatistiken verglichen. Darüber hinaus werden die Sichtweisen lokaler
Stakeholder unter Einbezug von 16 leitfadengestützten Interviews mit Ladenbesitzer:innen und einer Befra-
gung von 105 Passant:innen evaluiert. Die Resultate deuten darauf hin, dass sich die Eisenbahnstraße derzeit in
einer frühen Phase der 
Vol. 152, No. 1 · Research article
DIE ERDE
Journal of the
Geographical Society
of Berlin
DOI:10.12854/erde-2021-521
2021: Revaluating “Germany’s worst street”.
152 (1): 18-32
19DIE ERDE · Vol. 152 · 1/2021
Revaluating “Germany’s worst street”. Commercial gentrification on Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße?
1. Introduction
 -
cation has shown different characteristics in Leipzig
compared to West German cases ( 󰅺 
Wiest and Hill 2004). This included the lower pace
   -
mained spatially limited and did not necessarily im-
plicate displacement (Glatter 2007). Since 2007, Leip-
zig’s population has grown by more than 100,000
inhabitants. The two quarters surrounding the Eisen-
bahnstraße (Neustadt-NeuschönefeldandVolkma rs-
dorf,see ) even show the highest growth rates in
the city between 2010 and 2019 (Stadt Leipzig 2020a).
Average asking rents have increased by 59 % between
2012 and 2019 in Neustadt-Neuschönefeld (Immobil-
ien Scout GmbH 2020). Consequently, Haase and 
(2015) identify new dynamics on the housing market
in Leipzig since then. That gives reason to evaluate
current trends in the area once again because only one
decade ago degradation processes were still assumed
in the quarter (Glatter 2007). Degradation on the Ei-
senbahnstraße even aroused national interest. The
German television program ‘ProSieben’ broadcasted
two features on it, labelling the Eisenbahnstraße as
“Germany’s worst street” (translated from German
“Die schlimmste Straße Deutschlands”, title of two
German TV reports, ProSieben 2013, 2015). There, a
relationship between the area’s high crime rate and
immigration was insinuated.
In summer 2020, there has been protest and squatting
in the neighborhood in order to indicate the grow-
ing shortage of affordable housing, even leading to
violence (2020). For the squatters, the issue of
commercial development was relevant as well. Their
concept for the empty building did not only entail
space for housing, but also gastronomy and other uses
( 2020). Hence, our research interest
is based on the assumption that the above-mentioned
     
Eisenbahnstraße and initiated processes of upgrad-
ing. This has not only affected the housing market, but
also the commercial structure of the two quarters.
This paper has three research objectives: Firstly, it
     
as a concept describes the current processes on Leip-
zig’s Eisenbahnstraße in recent years. Secondly, the
observed change is analyzed from the perspective of
shop owners and passersby to reveal how the com-
mercial change in these quarters is perceived locally
both on the supply and the demand side. This is of
-
ing market has led to public protest, whereas so far,

aims to contribute to the regional discourse on gentri-


in East Germany (excluding Berlin) where (commer-
-
nicity. On the other hand, the discussion of upgrading
and displacement has led to (violent) protests in Leip-
zig, showing a general urgency.
For this purpose, the second section of this paper

-
es Leipzig as a case study and section four describes

empirical analysis are presented. The current sup-
ply in retail, gastronomy and services is compared to
data sets from 2012 and 2007. Then, these results are

section discusses the case of Leipzig considering the
      
draws conclusions.
und Nachfragestrukturen, die sich in der Ankunft neuer Zielgruppen, aber auch in neuen Geschäftskonzepten
niederschlägt. Darüber hinaus erfahren gewerbliche Nutzungen im Gebiet eine starke Zunahme, was zu einer
räumlichen Streuung von der Hauptstraße hin in Seitenstraßen führt. Es stellt sich heraus, dass die Leipziger
-
stellen ist. Andererseits tritt der Untersuchungsraum durch die hohe Bedeutung von Ethnizität in den kommer-

Keywords 
20 DIE ERDE · Vol. 152 · 1/2021
2. Commercial aspects as one dimension of gen-
trification
      Ruth
Glass emphasizes two aspects of change (Glass 196 4).
She observed physical upgrading as well as displace-
ment and the arrival of new and higher social groups.
    
      
     -
tion as a “global urban strategy” (Smith 2002: 437).
-


as in Dresden (Glatter 2007) and Santa Cruz de Ten-
erife (Hübscher 2019). Others consider it as the cen-
Revaluating “Germany’s worst street”. Commercial gentrification on Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße?
Fig. 1 Geographical situation of Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße and adjacent quarters. Source: own elaboration based on Destatis

km 3 6
Berlin
Leipzig
Dresden
Hamburg
Munich
Stuttgart
Hannover
Bremen
Nuremberg
Dortmund
Düsseldorf
Essen
Cologne
Frankfurt
on the Main
< 0.6
1-2
>3
population in
million
Germany Leipzig
0.6-1
200100km Leipzig city center
selected quarters
© OpenStreetMap Contributors© GeoBasis-DE / BKG (2021)
Eisenbahnstraße
m100 200
© OpenStreetMap Contributors
21DIE ERDE · Vol. 152 · 1/2021
terpiece of their investigation as in New York (
󰅺     and Lees 2019)
or Tallinn ( 󰅺 

among researchers around the globe, despite its high
spatial visibility in daily life (Hubbard 2018).
     
“upward transformation of local businesses in terms
of social class that refers to mutual change” (
󰅺
shops which often meet the needs of the local working
class and ethnic communities are displaced (Hubbard
2018). In this respect, Marcuse (198 5: 20 7) arg ues that
  
of displacement among residents, when “the stores
they patronize are liquidating and new stores for
other clientele are taking their places”. Additionally,
a transformation of industrial or manufacturing uses
to services alongside the establishment of new and
more sophisticated enterprises might occur (
󰅺      
businesses with lifestyle-oriented concepts can par-
ticularly be attributed to the emergence of boutiques,
but also bars and cafés with “well-designed furniture,
non-mainstream music, exotic dishes and eye-catch-
ing signage” ( Jeong󰅺-
nesses, which are often started by recently arrived
newcomers, address the demand of social groups,
that are distinct from the old-established residents
(Mermet 2017). In general, change can be divided into
three different categories: (1) change in the number of
 -
trepreneurs and (3) new and different supply in goods
and services (󰅺
    -

as they can be differentiated in supply and demand
factors (Mermet 2017). On the demand side, a chang-
ing consumer environment and a segmentation of
consumption based on the two broader trends of “in-
stitutionally facilitated corporatization and lifestyle-
driven homogenization” ( 󰅺 
     -
ply side focus on the rent gap theory. Mermet (2017)
-
   
-
           
build on these consumption opportunities, in which
(also international ly) high investments a re made, such
as in big events. Finally, the growth of chain stores as
well as internationalization (of both chain stores and
investors) taking place in retail reinforce the previous
two factors.
What adds to the particularity of our case study is the
high importance of ethnic economies. On the relation-
ship between ethnic entrepreneurs and commercial
  and Schmiz (2019) detect a re-
search gap. So far, ethnicity has played an ambiguous
        
where policies have “neglected the role of immigrant
entrepreneurs in improving neighborhoods” (-
ermann and Van der Leun 1999: 659). However, ethnic
      
(Huse 2018: 186). In contrast,  and 
(2005) observe how ethnic packaging inherits the

        

Thus, the role of migrants and ethnic businesses may

as the type of migration. Ethnic businesses as found
within the context of the Eisenbahnstraße are mostly
owned by migrants initially orientated towards the
demand of ethnic communities (Volery 2007). These
are particularly located in areas densely populated by
ethnic minorities (Greene and Owen 2004). However,
with growing market proliferation and time, ethnic
businesses are also catering to the needs of a bigger
customer base (Volery 2007).
Following the research objective of this paper, the
characteristics of commercial transformations are of
crucial importance to compare the case study with

be operationalized by the three aspects “scale of own-

of promotion” ( 󰅺      
help to measure the decline of owner-operated local
shops over time resulting in an increase of boutiques
and chain stores. The indicated attributes represent
changing shares of different types of businesses (Hub-
bard 2018). Glatter and Sturm (2019) add further
approaches for a possible research agenda, such as
spatial clusters in commercial structures and also de-
mand side aspects. On that basis, the following stage
model is used ().
Revaluating “Germany’s worst street”. Commercial gentrification on Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße?
22 DIE ERDE · Vol. 152 · 1/2021
The little interest in commercial aspects within the
     
in East Germany, where a research gap can be iden-
 Glatter and Wiest 2007). However, there is an
    -
many, discussing the different framework conditions
and patterns of the process compared to West Germa-
ny (󰅺Glatter 2007). Concepts such as
-
scribes the physical and spatial upgrading in the early
1990s, while only low eviction rates were observed,
as it happened for example in Leipzig after the Ger-
 2015). The high supply on the
real estate market (󰅺
relatively affordable prices are two possible reasons
for that (Harth 󰅺     -
portance of students and young creatives is empha-
sized which is why some of the processes observed
Wiest and Hill
  
described (Wiest and Hill 2004).
Comparing the selected case study with the prevail-

temporally will help to embed the case within the dis-
course. In order to illustrate this, the following sec-
tion will introduce the case study.
3. Case study
Leipzig has experienced ups and downs in urban de-
velopment. Once Germany’s fourth-largest city before
World War II with more than 700,000 inhabitants
(Herfert and Röhl 2001), the city’s structure later has
been shaped in four decades by socialism and state-
directed economy. From 1990 on, Leipzig has faced
strong deindustrialization and suburbanization pro-
cesses ( and  2004). This resulted in the
lowest population with just around 437,000 inhabit-
ants in 1998 (Liebe 2001). However, with the begin-
ning of the new century, reurbanization has been initi-
ated (Haase󰅺
even became the city with the strongest increase in
population in Germany, growing about 10,000 inhab-
itants per year (see Fig. 2Wiest and  2019).
The two quarters with the highest population growth
since 2010 are Neustadt-Neuschönefeld (45 %) and
Volkmarsdorf (71 %), which surround the Eisenbahn-
straße. Both show much higher growth rates than the
rest of Leipzig (Leipzig: 18 %, Stadt Leipzig
Fig. 2).
Comparing these two quarters to other areas in the
city, they can be seen as more deprived (Stadt Leipzig
2020a). Both quarters stand out due to their relative-
ly young population and their high shares of students
and foreigners (see Fig. 2), the latter being about six
times higher than in Saxony ( 2018). This
high share of inhabitants with migration experien-
Stadt Leipzig 2020a)
are rather untypical within East German gentrifying
neighborhoods (excluding Berlin). In Leipzig’s Süd-
vorstadt or Dresden’s Neustadt, two quarters where
     -
cade ago, the share of foreigners ranked only between
5 % in 2008 (Stadt Leipzig 2020a) and 8 % in 2002
(Glatter 2007). On the Eisenbahnstraße, the high share
of immigrants results in a considerable number of eth-
nic businesses ( 2010). This leads to the paradox
situation where migration is seen as an economic re-
source, while simultaneously, it is publicly regarded as
“factor of unproductive deviance” in the area (Wiest
and  2019: 583). In addition, it is one of the
last neighborhoods in Leipzig’s inner city that has not

prices for housing and businesses are still character-
ized as modest ( 2020).
Revaluating “Germany’s worst street”. Commercial gentrification on Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße?
low threshold uses,
vacancies
partially “authentic”,
ethnic economies
local supply and social
functions of old-established
businesses
new unconventional busines-
ses with lifestyle-oriented
concepts for new residents
specialization and develop-
ment of clusters
coexistence of old-establis-
hed businesses
growing share of new
businesses, increasing rents
uses with high potential for
conlicts (higher frequencies,
noise, tourism etc.)
further increasing share of
chain stores due to higher
rents
decreasing supply for
local residents, possible
touristiication
INITIAL PHASEDIVERSIFICATION OF
SUPPLY AND DEMAND
STRUCTURES
COMMERCIAL REPLETION COMMERCIALIZATION
 
23DIE ERDE · Vol. 152 · 1/2021
4. Methods
In this case study, different approaches have been
-
      -
dress bot h the supply and the demand side. First ly, the
status quo of the commercial situation has been ana-
lyzed. This was done through on-site inspections and
mapping of the current supply on the ground level.
Additionally, online research on the respective busi-
    
out and pictures were taken on-site to collect sam-
 
Fig. 5). The following data has been collected: name
and address of the business, line of business (service,
gastronomy, retail and vacancies), and business cat-
egorization. For the latter, the businesses are divided
based on aspects such as design, concept and costum-
ers after  󰅺    
three types of businesses: The traditional type, which
mostly meets the needs of old-established residents,
such as (ethnic) grocery stores and other convention-
ally established businesses. Apart from that, there are
chain stores, that represent regional or (inter-)nation-
al operating companies. The third category is uncon-
ventional businesses, which address newly arrived
social groups. These shops usually put an emphasis
on professional marketing, (interior) shop design and
          
The collected data then are compared to statistics ac-
quired by the city of Leipzig in 2012 and 2007 (Stadt
Leipzig 2019).
        -
views with local shop owners. The interviews were
held with business managers or senior employees to
give insights into the current business situation and
future perspectives. In order to provide a broad view
of the business perspective, the interviews were con-
ducted considering different types of businesses. To
guarantee comparable results, a standardized guide-
line method has been chosen even though the given
structure does only allow for limited responses and
is thus less explorative (Gill 󰅺   -
veys were conducted by the authors using a digital
      -
ing the visit of the shop or later on independently by
subsequent written information of the interviewees.
This part of the study rather aimed to get insights
into current business perspectives in the case study
Revaluating “Germany’s worst street”. Commercial gentrification on Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße?
0
50
100
150
200
2000 2003 2006 2009 2012 2015 2018
population growth
[%, 2000 = 100 %]
Neustadt-Neuschönefeld Volkmarsdorf Leipzig
population [total]
2000 2019
Neustadt-Neuschönefeld
year
7,992 13,148
Volkmarsdorf 7,553 13,174
Leipzig 479,996 601,668
averageage [years]
2000 2019
Neustadt-Neuschönefeld
year
year
39.034.6
Volkmarsdorf 38.934.5
Leipzig 43.342.4
share of foreigners [%]
2000 2019
Neustadt-Neuschönefeld 10.026.3
Volkmarsdorf 9.432.3
Leipzig 4.610.2
year
unemployment rate [%]
2001 2017
Neustadt-Neuschönefeld 18.2 7.8
Volkmarsdorf 20.1 10.8
Leipzig 12.9 5.4
 
compared to Leipzig. Source: own elaboration based on Stadt Leipzig (2020a, 2018, 2010)
24 DIE ERDE · Vol. 152 · 1/2021
than being representative. It will help to understand
if local businesses face pressure induced by upgrad-
ing and displacement. The assumption is that owners
and employees do not only know their own business’
situation but probably also have knowledge about
the commercial structure in their neighborhood. On
that basis, they are considered to be experts, as they
are expected to contribute to the research questions
posed in this paper (Meuser and  2009).
The third method used is a quantitative survey ( Ja-
cob 󰅺          -
senbahnstraße. This survey aimed to evaluate the
locals’ perspective on the potential change in the
commercial structure of the area. Also, data such as
age, gender or place of living were compiled. We con-
ducted interviews with 159 persons. One-third of the
persons declined to take part in the survey, more than
half of them due to language barriers (55.6 %). This
also means that our analysis might be distorted as we
were not able to capture this part of the international
visitors of the street. In total, 105 persons were will-
ing to answer the questions which leads to a partici-
pation rate of 66 %. Slightly more than one-third of
the interviewees had a migrant background and the
average age of the participants was 35 years. These
values are very similar to the social characteristics
in both quarters (see Fig. 2). However, only 63 % of
the interviewees were residents in the researched
area. Another 30 % lived in Leipzig and 7 % did not
live in the city. The interviews were conducted by the
authors with the help of a digital questionnaire. To
ensure consistency within the interviews a standard-
ized guideline was used. The questionnaire included
14 mostly closed questions in order to guarantee a
simple evaluation. The majority of the questions were
multiple-choice options, others were scales. Apart
from that, some open questions aimed to capture
feelings associated with the researched area. The in-
terviews were held on different days of the week and
times of the day to address a diverse sample of pas-
sersby.
5. Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße: decayed, hyped,
revaluated
5.1 The analysis of the commercial structure ac-
cording to the stage model
Compari ng the outcomes of our ana lysis with t he stage
model introduced in sec tion 2, the current situation on
the Eisenbahnstraße shows various similarities with
-
resents the demands of the established residents in
various aspects. More than a quarter of all businesses
have an international background that stand for an
entrenched ethnic economy which has already been
observed one decade ago ( 2010). Apart from that,
there is a high unemployment rate (see Fig. 2) and also
a lower income per household compared to the city’s
average (Stadt Leipzig 2018). Therefore, it can be as-
sumed that there is a relatively low purchasing pow-
er as well. Complementary, this can be one reason for
a still high vacancy rate and a mainly low-threshold
supply, like three secondhand stores and eleven gam-
bling halls in the area, which are typical for pre-gen-
Glatter and Sturm 2019). The degree of
chain stores only increased slowly over the last years
and remains on a low level (6 % to 9 % from 2007 to
2019, see Fig. 3). This would have been otherwise an
        -
ticularly in the later stages of the process (see 
1Yoon and  2018). Instead, following Glatter and
Sturm     ), another typical aspect in
traditional commercial settings occurs. Many of the
existing traditional shops have names that include the
description of their main product or their family name
such as ‘Messer-Müller’ or ‘Augenoptiker Maul’. Over-
all, all three criteria presented in 

Revaluating “Germany’s worst street”. Commercial gentrification on Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße?
106 102
151
68
9
28
46 44
25 3
0
50
100
150
200
250
2007 2012 2019
Number of Comercial Places
Year
unconventional
traditional vacant
chain stores not specified*
* no data available; due to different research goals of the
inventory data, the results may differ
57 60
Fig. 3 Commercial development on the Eisenbahnstraße
(categorized). Source: own elaboration based on Stadt
Leipzig (2019) and own survey
25DIE ERDE · Vol. 152 · 1/2021
However, there are clear indicators that the quarters
around the Eisenbahnstraße are in transition to-

of supply and demand structures is taking place. The
vacancy rate in commercial structures decreased by
50 % between 2012 (20.6 %) and 2019 (11.9 %), while
the existing building stock did not change fundamen-
tally. One reason is that the total number of business-
es increased by 68 % from 112 (2007) to 188 (2019)
over the last years (see Fig. 3). Also, displacement of
traditional shops by new businesses does not seem to
-
merly existing vacancies. Only three traditional shops
were replaced by new unconventional ones, but this
might be also traced back to ot her (economic) reasons.
A structural change is taking place with more uncon-
ventional businesses settling in the quarters, that
are different from the existing old-established shops,
which were focusing mainly on the inhabitants’ needs
      
Fig. 5). The new shops cover only about 5 % of current
retail. Nevertheless, they represent a quickly emerg-
ing sector, with all of them just being opened within
a timeframe of the last years. This type of business
depicts a typical indicator of progressing commercial

different stages, like (2009) point out, as
they push the cultural appreciation and expansion of
the commercial quarter. A similar process has been
 
Plagwitz and the Südvorstadt, but also in other cit-
ies such as Äußere Neustadt in Dresden, where small
shops related to creat ive businesses opened and intro-
duced a new direction of development (Glatter 2007).
New target groups are addressed by these establish-
ments: younger visitors and students, which is in line

Fig. 2). Especially students might be considered as

explanation models (Holm 2012). This development
is comparable to the observation of Leipzig’s Süd-
     
part of upgrading processes (Wiest and Hill 2004).
This development has led to a spatial extension of
economic activities from the center of the Eisenbahn-
straße to neighboring roads (see Fig. 4). From a spa-
tial point of view, 72 % of these new unconventional
businesses are located on Hermann-Liebmann-Straße
Revaluating “Germany’s worst street”. Commercial gentrification on Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße?
*Services and gastronomy in 2012 were only mapped if they were directly adjacent to the Eisenbahnstraße
            

26 DIE ERDE · Vol. 152 · 1/2021
or minor streets, rather than on the Eisenbahnstraße
itself (see Fig. 6). This further indicates a spatial clus-
tering process, which has been described as typical
    Glatter and
Sturm 
third and the center of the Eisenbahnstraße near the
junction with the Hermann-Liebmann-Straße. In con-
trast, gastronomy accumulates in the Hedwigstraße
and east of the Hermann-Liebmann-Straße. Consid-
ering these indicators (the development of clusters
and the emergence of new unconventional businesses
with coexistence of old and new shops), there is a clear
tendency towards the second stage of commercial

Revaluating “Germany’s worst street”. Commercial gentrification on Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße?
Fig. 5 Impressions of the Eisenbahnstraße (left), unconventional bistro (top right) and traditional ethnic businesses (bottom
right). Photo credit: own photographs 2019
Categories
traditional
chainstores
unconventional
vacancies
notspecified
ResearchArea
Eisenbahnstraße
Hedwigstraße
Hermann-Liebmann-Straße
2019
©OpenStreetMapContributors
   
Leipzig (2019) and own survey
27DIE ERDE · Vol. 152 · 1/2021
5.2 Perception of the ongoing change
 -
     
processes on Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße, the ques-
tion is raised how this change in commercial struc-
tures is perceived. We thus present two surveys to
capture the perception of both the demand and the
supply side. From the surveyed visitors’ point of view
(demand side), only 19.4 % observed very little or no
change at all in the commercial structure of the Eisen-
bahnstraße over the last ten years. Contrary to that,
the majority (53.8 %) characterized the change as
strong or very strong, as one interviewee points out:
“The supply of shops is changing. New shops open
constantly and there is more gastronomy now” (in-
terview, 2019). Another interviewee puts it this way:
“It’s becoming the place to be. The shops here nowa-
days differ completely from those ten years ago” (in-
terview, 2019). This sensibility towards the ongoing
change is strongest among residents in the neighbor-
hood and interviewees aged 55 or older (see ).
The ongoing process on the Eisenbahnstraße is eval-
uated differently. Almost half of the interviewees
(45.6 %) have a neutral position, whereas nearly the
same share (42.2 %) evaluated the change as positive.
Large parts of the interviewees associate the change
with the diversifying supply (35 %), the varying types
of visitors on the street (26 %) or with the changing
image of the quarter in the context of the whole city
(14 %).
It is observed that “The shops that open here [now] are
much more sophisticated, the atmosphere has a high-
er quality” (interview, 2019). Moreover, it is also the
mixture of old and new businesses that increases the
attractiveness of the place. One passerby points out:
“There are more and more shops coming up, that are
neither ethnic supermarkets nor restaurants, which
makes the area more interesting and mixed” (inter-
view, 2019). The new diversity in supply structures
also attracts new target groups: “A lot of Germans
come here now who visit particularly the greengro-
cery stores and restaurants” (interview, 2019). This
         
neighborhoods has also been observed in quarters
in Berlin (Polat 2020) or Amsterdam (and
Lees 2019). The new visitors are attracted by an “aura
of authenticity” ( 2008: 724) which they attrib-
       
only considered as “class remake but also as ethnic
remake” (Polat 2020: 173). The interviewees even as-
sociate similarities with other cities themselves: “It
feels like the multicultural neighborhoods in Ham-
burg or Berlin” (interview, 2019).
The abovementioned aspects also show that a homo-
genization process cannot be observed, which would
      
(󰅺
perception of the interviewees: “I come from Berlin,
where the change in commercial structures goes hand
in hand with increasing prices. I don’t see that here,
yet” (interview, 2019). Simultaneously there were
     -
    
displacement of inhabitants, but right now this is still
not the case here” (interview, 2019).
In general, local residents tend to evaluate the change
on the Eisenbahnstraße more positive (3.5) com-
          
      ). Also, the two younger co-
horts (age groups from 14 to 29 and 30 to 55) both
considered the change to be rather positive (3.6 and
3.5 respectively). The group aged 55 or older per-
ceived it as less positive (2.9) compared to the others.
Revaluating “Germany’s worst street”. Commercial gentrification on Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße?
     
the Eisenbahnstraße. Source:
results of the interviews with
passersby and shop owners
carried out in Leipzig in 2019
and 2020
Did you notice a change in the
commercial struct ure on the
Eisenbahnstraße since 2010?
How do you
evaluate this
change?
0 = no change;
5 = strong change
3.2
3.3
2.9
3.2
2.7
4.1
3.9
97
63
34
44
38
14
16
average n
3.4
3.5
3.2
3.6
3.5
2.9
3.9
90
60
30
44
38
14
16
average n
1 = very negative;
5 = very positive
passersby
total
place of living
age
shop owners
total
local inhabitants
non -locals
14-29
30-55
> 55
28 DIE ERDE · Vol. 152 · 1/2021
      
where older residents or old-established inhabitants
are facing displacement pressure (Dangschat 1988)
not only due to rising rents but also because of indi-
rect factors. This is a result of the changing social or
cultural atmosphere in a gentrifying neighborhood,
but also the change in commercial structures, as Mar-
cuse (1985) points out.
On the Eisenbahnstraße this aspect is accompanied
by the topic of safety: “I don’t go out in the evenings,
it is too dangerous, there are too many foreigners”

police here now and the number of police raids has
increased” (interview, 2019). Hence, the perceived in-
security should be considered as another factor that
may increase the displacement pressure, at least for
some of the inhabitants. High levels of insecurity are
even discussed as one proxy of “soon-to-upgrade com-
munities” (Covington and   1989: 145). In total,
only 12.2 % of all interviewees described the ongoing
change in the neighborhood as negative.
On the supply side, similar observations are made
based the interviews with shop owners. All of the sur-
veyed owners see a clear, strong or even very strong
structural change since 2010 (see ). Their sen-
sibility to the change is more distinct (4.0) compared
to the perspective of the passersby (3.2). A large ma-
jority of shop owners (87.5 %) associates this with
the changing supply in the area: “You can see a strong
growth on the street since 2006, there are much more
shops now” (interview, 2019). The surveyed shop
owners observe a rising number of gastronomies,
but also a higher diversity in supply in the shops and
more diverse visitors from different backgrounds
which is congruent with the visitors’ observations
outlined above. Only one of the shop owners regarded
this change as rather negative. Four out of the 16 in-
terviewees had a neutral opinion about the change.
The largest share evaluated it as positive or very posi-
tive (62.5 %): “I expect more growth on the street.
The people on the Eisenbahnstraße are getting more
diverse, there are more Germans now and there is a
more intensive cultural exchange” (interview, 2019).
In total, shop owners had the most positive average
opinion, compared to the passersby ().
This can be clearly related to the high level of satisfac-
tion of the shop owners with the economic situation
of their businesses. While 37.5 % of the interviewees
       
content with their situation: “I hope that it even be-
comes better” (interview, 2019). However, our results
could partly be distorted as shop owners with posi-
tive business perspectives might be more willing to

Although 75 % of the interviewees rented their shops’
place, none of them feared to be displaced during the
 
assumption as displacement is one of the central ele-
ments of the concept. One of the shop owners obser ved
    -
terview, 2019). Several owners expect an even “more
diverse supply structure” and “existing vacancies to
decrease” (interviews, 2019). This is congruent with
   
model (   ). Also, the observed decline in vacan-
cies could provoke rising rents in the area and thus

This adds to the existing perception gap of the Eisen-
bahnstraße, which does not only appear between the
juxtaposed internal and external points of view but
also within local perspectives: “I feel that parallel so-
cieties emerge, the new and the old shops do not com-
municate with each other” (interview, 2019).
6. Conclusions and research perspectives
       -
cation was chosen as an approach to investigate the
current dynamics in Neustadt-Neuschönefeld and
Volkmarsdorf, two inner-city quarters surrounding
Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße. We have sought to capture
perspectives from both supply and demand side em-
ploying different methods. This included a mapping
of the commercial status quo in the area compared to
existing secondary data of the last ten years, as well
as interviews with local shop owners and passersby.
Based on the material, we draw t wo main conclusions:
 On the one hand, compared to  (2018)

  -
    
phase on the Eisenbahnstraße is marked by a high
vacancy rate, low-threshold supply and a local econ-
omy with a n important sha re of ethnic back grounds.
However, the material shows that a transformation
process has started in recent years, indicating the
       -
companied by strong population growth in both
Revaluating “Germany’s worst street”. Commercial gentrification on Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße?
29DIE ERDE · Vol. 152 · 1/2021
neighborhoods with students and foreigners show-
ing the highest increases. We also observe an ongo-
ing dispersion of businesses throughout the whole
research area, that has led to spatial and functional
   
gastronomy and retail emphasize marketing, inte-
rior design and suggest a higher quality.
 On the other hand, this change is perceived as
positive by a majority of passersby and local shop
owners. While from the demand side, the ongoing
    -
creasing the area’s attractivity, the supply side ben-
       
ongoing process of upgrading. The arrival of non-
migrant Germans as a new target group is mostly
seen as a chance for diversity, intercultural com-
munication, but also as an economic opportunity.
Simultaneously, the fear of parallel societies exists.

could also be associated with upgrading that leads
to displacement of ethnic minorities due to gentri-
         -
sersby, displacement is currently not a dominant
topic on the Eisenbahnstraße. This might explain

agenda of public protest so far.
This study shows that upgrading processes in com-
mercial structures have reached the quarters sur-
rounding the Eisenbahnstraße during the last decade,
even though until 2007 processes of degradation have
been described (Glatter and Wiest 2008). However,
there are rather multiple realities perceived by dif-
ferent stakeholders in the area. The rising prices on
the housing market have already led to visible public
protest. Nevertheless, the ongoing change in the com-
mercial structure is regarded as positive by several
groups, although the oldest cohort and non-locals had

gap between the internal and external perception
of the Eisenbahnstraße, adding to the existing para-
doxical discourses (Wiest and  2019). This
synchrony of perceptions indicates an ongoing polari-

the Eisenbahnstraße in the next years.
On that basis, two possible lines of further investiga-

on the Eisenbahnstraße should be monitored con-
tinuously because the dynamics on Leipzig’s housing
market are likely to increase the revaluation pressure
in inner-city quarters. The fact that displacement cur-
           -
bahnstraße, does not imply that this cannot change
in the future. This is particularly the case as in just
seven years, the vacancy rate in commercial struc-
tures on the street has halved (Stadt Leipzig 2019 and
own survey) showing a clear tendency for future de-
velopments. Secondly, further research must be done
to investigate the outstanding role of the Eisenbahn-
straße in the East German context. The case study fol-

in some central aspects. So far, spatial upgrading with
little or no displacement is one of them, described as
  Harth 󰅺   -
ment is the high importance of students within the
upgrading process in East German cities, labelled as
 Wiest and Hill 2004). Contrary to
that, Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße becomes comparable
to case studies in cities such as Cologne (Friedrichs
and  2016), Berlin (Polat 2020), Amsterdam
( and Lees 2019) or Toronto (
and  2005) where the outstanding role of eth-
nicity is a central element of the observed commercial
       
other studies have revealed. It is argued that Leipzig
is becoming more similar to development patterns of
West German large cities considering the main socio-
economic variables during the last ten years (
󰅺           
       


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 and   2019: Paradoxe Aushandlungen
von Migration im Diskurs um die Leipziger Eisenbahn-
32 DIE ERDE · Vol. 152 · 1/2021
Revaluating “Germany’s worst street”. Commercial gentrification on Leipzig’s Eisenbahnstraße?
      77 (6): 583-
600, doi:10.2478/rara-2019-0030
Yoon, Y. and         -
     
   10 (2440): 1-16, doi:10.3390/
su10072440
 2008: Consuming authenticity: From outposts of
            22
(5): 724-748, doi:10.1080/09502380802245985
           and A.
 2009: New Retail Capital and Neighborhood
      
    8 (1): 58, doi:10.1111/j.1540-
6040.2009.01269.x
... The past decade has been challenging for local retailers and has threatened the resilience of city centers [1]. In particular, smaller owner-managed shops have found it difficult to cope with the overlapping processes of digitalization [2], the rising dominance of chain stores [3] and upgrading processes such as commercial gentrification [4]. Notably, the current pandemic has particularly accelerated digitalization [5][6][7], and a general intensification of already-existing problems and challenges has been observed due to COVID-19 [8]. ...
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Growth rates in e-commerce, changing consumer behaviors, and COVID-19 have all put pressure on local retailers worldwide, threatening the resilience of city centers. Local online platforms (LOPs) have been considered as a solution to help local retailers increase their visibility and survive on the market. However, most platforms fail to attract a significant number of stakeholders. Simultaneously, digital platform solutions with more holistic urban perspectives, such as urban data platforms (UDPs), have emerged. However, a question remains: how can the integration of retail data (e.g., product availabilities) into a UDP succeed? Therefore, in this paper, we explore stakeholder-oriented networking processes to integrate local retail data into a UDP in Leipzig, Germany. Leipzig has increased its population by 26% since 2000, but presents the highest retail vacancy rate, compared to other major German cities. To investigate the networking process in Leipzig, we conduct a social network analysis which combines qualitative interviews, mapping, and ethnographic research. We interview ten stakeholders and uncover conflicts within the networking process: First, all stakeholders have different understandings of UDPs and how to integrate local retail data; second, the interviewees acknowledge the importance of, but none of them feel responsible for, initiating or managing the process; and third, the city administration has shown diverging interest, in terms of taking on more responsibility.
... Percepciones paradójicas en "la calle más peligrosa de Alemania": la Eisenbahnstrasse en Leipzig desde el punto de vista inmobiliario << Volver al Índice Existen varios estudios que analizan este contexto polarizado en el este de Leipzig, enfocando la migración (Wiest & Kirndörfer, 2019), economías étnicas (Leimer, 2010) o la gentrificación comercial (Hübscher et al., 2021). En cambio, el punto de vista inmobiliario no ha sido estudiado en los últimos años. ...
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El municipio de Lorca, situado en el sureste de la Península Ibérica, recorrido por el río Guadalentín y su valle se ha visto favorecido para el asentamiento humano. Por su extensión de 1.675 km² es el segundo con mayor extensión de España tras Cáceres, y cuenta con lugares de interés cultural, geológico y etnográfico. A lo largo de su extenso territorio, se localizan núcleos con mayor o menor población. Concretamente está compuesto por 38 pedanías y la ciudad de Lorca. Se encuentran divididas en tres grandes grupos de pedanías según su posición geográfica: norte, centro y sur. En este estudio se analiza la evolución demográfica del municipio desde 1960 a 2018, sus cambios de densidad, la natalidad y la mortalidad, la evolución de la pirámide de población de 1998 y 2018. Todas estas consecuencias permitirán ver como uno de los municipios más grandes de la Península Ibérica presenta claras diferencias demográficas entre sus pedanías. A ello contribuye la prestación de servicios que reciben los habitantes residentes en cada una de ellas, y queda reflejado en la evolución de su población, los movimientos migratorios y la estructura de la población, con una presencia cada vez mayor de población envejecida en muchas de estas entidades, que están en clara desventaja respecto a la cabecera municipal.
... Leipzig is chosen as a case study, mainly because the city shows strong dynamics in urban development. Leipzig has been Germany's fastest-growing city during the last decade (Hübscher et al. 2021). Paradoxically, the vacancy rate in retail has risen dramatically in the city center, even before the global pandemic. ...
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This article deals with digitalization as a contribution to city center resilience, using Leipzig as an example. Focus group interviews illustrate that digital applications can attract to visit the city center and thus contribute to city center resilience. To reinforce these findings, the authors develop a prototype of a digital map covering Leipzig’s city center that is tested by means of 70 go-along interviews. The interviews show that linking digital functions and location-specific information thereby can be effective regarding city center resilience.
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Recently, local shops and small houses in Seoul have been converted to cafes, western style restaurants, and large chain stores. These changes, recognized as commercial gentrification in residential areas, are now a big issue in Korean society. This phenomenon has some positive effects, such as the emergence of new consumption spaces and improved neighborhood images. However, this study concentrated on changes in regional characteristics, landscape, and industry homogenization. This study demonstrates the presence of a cyclical environmental change process commonly identified in areas of gentrification and identifies characteristics of individual stages of the gentrification process. The results indicate that medium-scale local stores in Stage 1 changed to small-scale food and beverage businesses in Stage 2. Then, in Stage 3, they changed to large-scale clothing retailers. In particular, the process of change from Stage 2 to Stage 3 revealed that, as the diversity of business types decreases, their uses change and the proportion of chain stores increases. In other words, although Stage 2 has the highest level of mixed use and density, indicating the greatest level of vitality, commercial gentrification to Stage 3 results in decreases in use, the number of aged buildings, and density. Thus, Stage 3 can be identified as the stage in which streets lose their vitality, as suggested by Jacobs. To maintain street vitality, it is suggested that commercial district management occurs during the transformation from Stage 2 to Stage 3 of commercial gentrification.
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After the beginning of the post-socialist transformation, the eastern German city of Leipzig underwent various changes within a short time span. These changes have been especially dynamic in its inner city. Whereas it was hit by the loss of large parts of its population and increasing housing vacancies in the 1990s, the 2000s brought about a revitalization and new attractiveness of many inner-city districts. Since then, reurbanization and-in some places-gentrification have become the predominant trends in a rising number of inner-city districts. This development has also reshaped patterns of socio-spatial differentiation in the city as a whole and its inner parts. Set against this background, the paper describes the development of Leipzig’s inner city after 1990. The focus of the paper is it to show how various concepts-reurbanization and gentrification-help to explain this development. Of particular interest thereby is the impact of Leipzig’s specific housing market situation that is characterized by long-term experiences of supply surplus and shrinkage.
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We expect gentrification to be associated with increasing larceny and robbery rates based on human ecological theory and gentrification research. In Baltimore, gentrifying neighborhoods, as compared to other appreciating neighborhoods, experienced significant unexpected increases in robbery and did not decline as much in larceny. The ecological characteristics of gentrifying neighborhoods partially explain this linkage. Results confirm but also question human ecological theory, underscoring the detrimental effects of rapid neighborhood change but also indicating, contrary to expectations, that human ecological processes of invasion-succession have not, and may not, reach completion in gentrifying neighborhoods. If the invasion-succession cycle remains "stalled," the locations may remain vulnerable to continuing high levels of disorder.
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In urban geography research there is a small supply of articles which reflect upon the aims and motives of entrepreneurs when they enter neighbourhoods that are undergoing a process of gentrification. The aim of this paper is to better understand the explanatory factors behind the timing of entrepreneurial changes that take place during the commercial gentrification process in Tallinn’s post‐industrial neighbourhoods. Based on thirty in‐depth interviews, we propose an explanation from the supply perspective that highlights the dynamics behind motivation‐based influences. By modifying the diffusion of the innovation theory developed by Rogers we are able to show how, during the different phases of the process, groups of pioneers, early adopters, the early and late majority, and laggards enter a neighbourhood that is being gentrified by varying objectives, and associate the dynamics behind the process with the follower effect that is being shaped by knowledge diffusion, a specific market niche, and physical co‐location.
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Ethnic cuisines are an integral part of gentrifying neighborhoods in Berlin. This is not surprising, since the consumption of authenticity plays a decisive role in commercial gentrification. However, while there have been many studies on artists and white creative entrepreneurs as facilitators of urban upgrading, only few research has focused on the active role of ethnic entrepreneurs in selling culture in commercial gentrification. In this article, we want to ask how ethnic food entrepreneurs stage authenticity and create new tastes in Berlin's gentrification in their ethnically marketed restaurants. How does this relate to their positioning towards the city and towards commodified ethnicities? And what role do social backgrounds and dispositions of consumers play in this staging? To answer these questions, we embed the topic in three theoretical discourses at the interface of migration and urban research: ethnic commodification, commercial gentrification and migrant entrepreneurship. We then present two cases as examples of entrepreneurial distinction practices in different settings and periods of Berlin's gentrification: an orientalized Arab snack bar in the early 2000s in Prenzlauer Berg, and a Vietnamese breakfast restaurant in 2017 in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Neukölln. With these two examples we point to critical aspects that shape migrant entrepreneurs' selling strategies in gentrification, such as the representation of an ethnic group within a city, the phase and local context of gentrification as well as political paradigms of urban regeneration. In Berlin, the two case studies relate to the overlapping shift from a “multicultural-differentiated” to a “cosmopolitan-diversified” city.
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Compared to the United States, the relationship between ethnicity and gentrification is still understudied in the Western European context. However, while Western Europe does not have the same racial history as the United States, ethnic and racial divisions are still expressed through urban inequality. This paper, a study of small-business owners in an ethnically stigmatized Berlin neighborhood, shows how the gentrification process leads to the revelation and reification of ethnic boundaries between Turkish immigrants and their descendants and the so-called German majority society. It firstly finds that gentrification by Turkish-origin business owners is frequently understood as an ethnic remake that leads to the displacement of Turkish immigrants and their families in favor of non-immigrant Germans. The gentrification process is accordingly perceived, not only as a form of material dispossession, but also as a form of cultural dispossession in which the multicultural character of the quarter is erased. Second, the paper postulates that, in cases in which Turkish immigrant entrepreneurs adapt their businesses to the demands of new middle-class consumers, they tend to exclude the lower-income population in the quarter whom they mainly define as Turkish or Arabic. All in all, the debate presented in this paper shows how, in the German context, gentrification relates to prior forms of ethnic prejudice, discrimination and racism. It thereby also complicates the prominent discussion on the nexus between gentrification and displacement by showing that, even if long-time residents are not immediately threatened with having to leave, they still experience forms of exclusion that are entrenched with already existing structural inequalities.
Chapter
Leipzig war vor dem Zweiten Weltkrieg die viertgrößte deutsche Stadt (1933: 713.000 Einwohner), eine nationale Metropole (Reichsgericht, Messe, Banken- und Verlagszentrum) mit europäischer Ausstrahlung (Börsenstandort, Sitz ausländischer Konsulate). Mit der Teilung Deutschlands verlor Leipzig viele dieser Funktionen, bis 1988 auch 170.000 seiner Einwohner, blieb aber mit der Leipziger Messe Drehscheibe für den Ost-West-Handel und bewahrte durch die Konzentration überregional bedeutsamer Bildungs- und Forschungseinrichtungen und Kulturstätten ihren hohen internationalen Bekanntheitsgrad (Henckel 1993).
Chapter
Seit Anfang der 70er Jahre zeichnet sich in den Städten der alten Bundesländer nach einer bis dahin vorherrschenden Verschlechterung („filtering down“) eine Renaissance innerstädtischer Wohngebiete ab. Die aufwertende Wiederbelebung innerstädtischer Wohngebiete wurde mit dem Begriff „Gentrification“ belegt und umfaßt zwei Aspekte: Zum einen geht es um Veränderungen der Sozialstruktur in einem bestimmten städtischen Teilgebiet dergestalt, daß die angestammte Bewohnerschaft, die besonders zu den „A-Gruppen“ der Alten, Armen, Arbeiter und Ausländer gehört, durch aufsteigende („Pioniere“) oder aufgestiegene („Gentrifier“), in jedem Fall aber jüngere und bildungshöhere Gruppen mit gewissem Einkommensniveau und mit anderen Lebensstilen, verdrängt wird. Zum anderen und damit zusammenhängend geht es um Veränderungen der baulichen Strukturen und Nutzungen durch Modernisierungen, Umwandlungen in Eigentumswohnungen und um Tertiärisierungsprozesse mit der Zweckentfremdung von Wohnraum (vgl. Dangschat, 1988: 272).
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Public debate and prior scholarship tend to emphasize the link between gentrification and high-end chain retail, underscoring the importance of taste cultures tied to social class in making sense of gentrification’s impact on neighborhood identity. In this study, we present evidence from 10 years of change in the businesses of Brooklyn, New York City, a period of extensive gentrification across a wide variety of neighborhood and census-tract level contexts. Adopting census tracts clustered in neighborhoods as the units of analysis, we model the effects of institutional and demographic change on two separate outcomes: chain retail density and homogeneity in the types of goods and services available. We argue that changes in consumer culture embedded in broader processes of gentrification are neither “chaotic” nor “unitary” but are “segmented” according to local spatial and demographic context, taking two discrete forms: institutionally facilitated corporatization; lifestyle-driven homogenization.