CITY – Could Copenhagen benefit from Brexit?

In this month's City column we cover the latest round of investment in Copenhagen's new Carlsberg district, the growing popularity of the City Bikes, and plans to attract businesses fleeing a Brexit Britain

New districts find their funding

Standing on Istedgade and looking southwest, you can’t avoid seeing Vesterbro’s new landmark, Bohr’s tower. The apartment complex is the standout feature of the new Carlsberg district that is being developed on the site of the brewer’s former headquarters.

A new shopping plaza and train station have opened at the foot of the tower, which also houses University College Capital’s Campus Carlsberg. But it’s only the start of the redevelopment, and in early January pension fund PKA announced they were investing 4.2 billion kroner in the second phase.

The money will go toward four new residential towers, offices and businesses, as well as the restoration of historic buildings.

“The new deal with PKA finances Carlsberg Byen’s largest phase of development and reflects the market’s enormous interest in the district,” Carlsberg Byen director Jens Nyhus said.

When it is fully developed in 2024, the district will cover over 600,000 M2 and include around 3,000 new homes.

In December, PKA also announced that it was investing 1.2 billion kroner in the Enghave Brygge development in nearby Sydhavn. The development consists of 11 artificial islands that connect Vesterbro to Copenhagen harbour.

PKA’s investment will finance 40 houses and 430 new apartments across three of the islands.

“With the large number of new arrivals to Copenhagen, it is necessary to develop new districts and create recreational areas,” said PKA’s head of property, Nikolaj Stampe.

When Enghave Brygge is completed within the next 10 years, it will house 2,600 new homes and 1,600 jobs, in addition to a Metro station, shopping district and daycare institutions.

City Bikes on Dronning Louis’s Bridge. Photo: Wonderful Copenhagen

City bikes a hit

When Copenhagen’s city bikes were launched in late 2014, they were envisioned as a means to tie together Greater Copenhagen’s transport infrastructure. Commuters could park their cars at train stations north of the city, and complete the last few kilometres by renting a bike from the train station when they arrived.

But few did, not least because the company that produced the bikes, GoBike, had gone bankrupt and was unable to deliver around 1,400 of the battery-assisted bicycles. By April 2015, the city’s deputy mayor for technical and environmental affairs, Morten Kabell, admitted the 88 million kroner scheme was unlikely to succeed.

GoBike managed to raise new capital, however, and delivered the remaining bikes by the end of the year.

And since, the popularity of the bicycles has only risen. According to the latest figures, there were 933,642 trips taken on city bikes in 2016 compared to 169,834 the previous year. And while tourists and residents covered 840,690 kilometres using city bikes in 2015, last year it was almost 3,700,000 kilometers.

Stealing the spoils of Brexit

Copenhagen is so left wing that every single mayor in recent history has been a Social Democrat. Unsurprisingly, right wing parties in the City Council are frustrated and blame left wing policies for making the city a poor place to do business in.

Of Denmark’s 98 municipalities, business lobby group Dansk Byggeri ranked Copenhagen the 84th best for doing business in last year.

The Liberal Party (Venstre), the main right wing opposition party, has had enough. One sign is their decision to replace their leading candidate in the municipal elections later this year with a more pro-business candidate. Following a vote, Cecilia Lonning-Skovgaard (right), a senior director at Dong Energy, was chosen to take over from Pia Allerslev, who has represented the party in city hall since 2001, and is currently deputy mayor for children and youth.

Lonning-Skovgaard is hoped to push a stronger liberal agenda in the City Council and in a recent column for financial daily Børsen argued that the municipality does too little to cater to the interests of the city’s businesses.

While she acknowledges that the municipality makes great efforts to attract foreign businesses, Lonning-Skovgaard has eyed an especially promising opportunity – Brexit.

“On the strategic front we need to target businesses whose headquarters are currently in London and who we think will leave London when they finally disconnect from the EU,” she writes.

“We should make a bid to attract businesses in the clusters we are good at; Medico, Fin-tec and fashion to name three.”

She adds that Copenhagen should also bid to be the new home of the European Medicines Agency, which is currently headquartered in London. M

News, Urban

By Peter Stanners

Co-founder and Editor-in-chief. Occasional photographer.

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