The City of Talent is gaining a trendy district, as construction workers transform a once-deserted area surrounding a former gas factory into a new, multi-faceted neighbourhood just minutes away from central streets.
A stroll along the renovated Boterdiep street reveals not only a recently-opened hotel for international students but also a brasserie, a bar and a new apartment building, all set up since 2013. Called Ebbingekwartier, the neighborhood – bordered by Bloemsingel in the north, the Oosterhamrikkade / Vrydemalaan in the east, the Boterdiep in the west and the Kolendrift in the south – will see in the following weeks a former 360-degree cinema screen be converted into a restaurant, as well as a street art event take place near the regional urban beach.
The people involved in the project do not necessarily agree on what the driving force is. “The creative industry is the bottom of this development because it is a booming industry”, tells The Spoke News Wilma Naaijer, chairperson of the United Entrepreneurs of Ebbingekwartier.
However, according to Joost van Uhm, assistant project manager for the City Hall of Groningen, “the main focus is on creating an attractive residential area, the creative city is more of a side effect”. He adds that the construction of a bicycle path in Kolendrift by the municipality, in 2011, was a key factor in the process of bringing people to the region.
Once the area is fully revamped, around 2020/2021, it will have been a public-private joint venture of 26 years, helped by the non-governmental organisation Open Lab, which currently occupies an empty lot in Kolendrieft with mixed-use containers. Their business leader, Gerrit Schuurhuis, summarises the general feeling: “We want to show the people what can be done in an open space because every city has a wasteland”.