The Immendingen army base – once a washing amenity for armored howitzers during the Cold War – is the perfect place Daimler’s looking for to convert into a testing ground for Mercedes-Benz luxury cars. The said facility, set in the Black Forest of Germany, is conveniently located near the company’s base in Stuttgart.
As German military prepares to give up the said place, Lothar Ulsamer of Daimler AG is negotiating for the piece of land and is set on buying it – an area that runs on about a 500-hectare complex. If th talks succeeded, the company is planning to turn the howitzer wash into auto shops, the shooting range into a tunnel where car headlights are tested and the training ground into a test track.
“A military plot is ideal,” Ulsamer revealed in a phone interview. “Military conversions are easy to get through the political process.”
Transforming agricultural lands or empty lots in the countryside often meet resistance from farmers and environmentalists.
Large Scale Turnovers
The Daimler deal is just a part of the large scale of military properties transfer in Germany as German troops are scaled back with Britain and US closing up the bases they opened during WWII. The military is set to vacate an area totaling to approximately six times the size of Manhattan – 143 square miles or 370 square kilometers – in the next five years. This land space presents numerous opportunities for companies like Daimler as well as other investors that are seeking for areas to put up luxury homes, factories or large arrays of energy-generating solar panels.
The land assets being turned over range from vintage bomb-filled airfields to villages with American-style bungalows.
Just this May, the US turned over a property in Mannheim, the Benjamin Franklin Village, which is the country’s biggest residential base with 2,000 apartments, four schools, one gas station, church, cinema and even a Burger King outlet.
According to Joerg Musial, the head of sales at the federal real state agency BIMA, which handles the management and sales of government-owned assets including army bases, most of the handovers will take place next year until 2015. “We’ve never had such a massive, simultaneous withdrawal,” Musial stated. “In some cities, it’s shaking up the entire market.”
The said agency have been working on rebooting unused military bases, including the area in Immendingen eyed by Daimler, since 2005. However, the recent turnovers will have to wait for two years before going on the sales market as BIMA needs that span of time for property evaluation, resolve with city officials what use the property is ideal for and at last, organize its sale.
Germany’s not the only country seeking for new uses of its discarded military encampments and bases. Armies worldwide are also booting out real state in an attempt to cut down on spending. For one, the US Department of Defense plans to close its European bases in the next five years so it could save about $250 billion.
Immendingen mayor Markus Hugger is looking forward to Daimler’s project in his town, not just for the extra jobs and extra tax revenue the place will get, but with the publicity the company brings to their town. “We hope that once Daimler’s here, other companies will come,” he said.
Article based on one found in Bloomberg