Based in Dortmund, Germany, Westfalenhütte is synonymous with over 160 years of iron and steel production in the Ruhr area. Around 25,000 people worked there when the German Economic Miracle was at its peak. Overproduction and falling demand in the second half of the 20th century, however, led to a decade-long steel crisis. Gradually, Westfalenhütte’s furnaces, sintering plants and rolling mills were closed. A Chinese company bought and disassembled them in 2001 for reassembly in the province of Jiangsu near Shanghai. Most of the Westfalenhütte site became an unused brownfield site.
The space is ideal for creating new logistics space. In 2017, Prologis acquired a 16-hectare section of the former Westfalenhütte sintering site. “On the land, we are planning a roughly 90,000 square meter logistics park with three logistics facilities—our largest brownfield development in Germany to date,” says Philipp Feige, vice president, market officer Germany, Prologis. “In doing so, we are finding a new purpose for the brownfield site in Dortmund.”
Densely populated areas like the Ruhr have excellent infrastructure, a compelling factor for the logistics sector. They also have a large supply of labor, which makes the region a coveted location, but space for logistics sites is scarce. “Brownfield developments are often the only way to build logistics facilities in top-class locations, such as Dortmund,” says Feige. “Unused areas left behind by the iron and steel industries are particularly ideal. Additionally, the revitalization of brownfield land is a sustainable solution for logistics facilities because no new soil is sealed and, in many cases, prior contamination is removed.”
The land has to be prepared for development before Prologis can start building the new facility. With ground level differences of up to 9 meters, additional material is needed to flatten the site. Around 3,000 metric tons of ground material will be delivered each day from mid-2018 until the land is ready for development. Lime will be added to the material onsite, which will be used to pack down the substrate. This way, the ground will meet high stability requirements. The land will be transferred to Prologis when these preparations finish in 2020.
“The site is ideal for businesses in the e-commerce sector, logistics service providers and retail logistics companies, in particular,” says Feige. “In revitalizing the land, we are proud to make a sustainable contribution to the structural change in the inner city of Dortmund and help create new jobs in the process.”