The ‘city balcony’ (stadsbalkon) at Groningen’s central railway station has been seen as an eyesore by the city’s residents, but they’ll be happy to know that the municipality has agreed to transform this architectural monstrosity into a pleasant and attractive part of the city.
According to the city council a welcoming and attractive green north square is needed in front of the railway station, and the ‘city balcony’ is anything but attractive so it needs to go. “It looks like a Tobruk bunker from WWII. The person who signed off on this must never hold a pen again! Restore this to how it used to be!” says Martin Postmus, a photographer in Groningen.
That also means that the giant bicycle parking garage with room for more than 5500 bikes will also disappear – though plans are being made for alternative parking spaces.
The removal of the ‘city balcony’ would also be beneficial for those who are elderly and/or handicapped, as the area is currently hard to maneuver for them due to the uneven ground making it less accessible.
The municipality wants to transform the entire station area into completely a new part of the city where people can both live and find work. They intend to build between 450 and 650 new homes, and also open up around 3000 job opportunities, 20 percent of which will be in the social sector.
The station will be the central point of all the up-coming construction. Both sides of the station will have newly formed parks to make the area more alluring, and to form what they call a ‘green corridor’ between the city center and Stadspark.
By reading the plans it’s also clear that they have been made with pedestrians in mind, as they are central to the plan. For example, the plans include to make the Stationsweg car-free and no longer allow cars to pass through this area, and to provide plenty of seating areas next to the water.
According to OOGTV the plans will take at least 10 to 15 years until they are fully realized, and will cost approximately 85 to 95 million euros.
“It should be noted in advance that this amount is for the entire project, excluding the development of the Spoorkwartier and the new music center,” says Jan Smale, press officer at the municipality in Groningen.
The Groningen Observer also asked Smale where all the money to realize these plans will come from. He referred us to the ‘Strategic agenda for an integral development of the station area’ which lists a multitude of ways such as but not limited to: provincial contribution, governmental contribution, European subsidies, voluntary contributions etc.
Moreover the municipality also wants to get rid of the Oosterpoort – the culture center of Groningen – and build a new Oosterpoort on the south side of the station. The area to the south known as ‘Spoorkwartier’ will be a green, sustainable and low-traffic district which will have the new Oosterpoort as its music and cultural center. The total cost for this would be around 221 million euros according to RTV Noord.