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Gersthofer Platzl in Vienna before the renovation, Source: Unser Währing

Gersthofer Platzl in Vienna – redevelopment starts after years of parliamentary limbo

Gersthofer Platzl in Vienna – redevelopment starts after years of parliamentary limbo

The new project calls for greenery, wider sidewalks and an upgrade to the local market. Then why is it so politically divisive?

The reconstruction of Gersthofer Platzl in Vienna has started on 8 July 2021. NEOS District Councilor Johannes Mühlbacher, District President Silvia Nossek and City Councilor for Planning Ulli Sima personally helped the project break ground.

The district of Währing gave the green light for the reconstruction after three years of parliamentary limbo, and only after the ÖVP, SPÖ and FPÖ lost their majority in the local parliament, giving way to the Greens and NEOS.

NEOS District Councilor Johannes Mühlbacher, District President Silvia Nossek
and City Councilor for Planning Ulli Sima breaking ground 
Source: City of Vienna

Years of deliberation, finally paying off

After almost three years of citizen participation, discussions with experts and intensive planning, the time has come - construction has started and is to be completed by the end of August. The Gersthofer Platzl in the Währing district of Vienna will be revitalized and expanded into the new Grätzlzentrum.

The focus is on greening and shading with five large-crowned elms and plant beds, benches and a drinking fountain. The local market will also be upgraded and the traffic safety increased, making public transport more attractive and the sidewalks and cycling paths wider.

The final goals of the project were greatly aided by the committed citizens who participated in its creation through debates and propositions.

Visualising the past and the present of Gersthofer Platzl

The project for the current renovation was voted in on 20 January 2021, however, it had been in the minds and mouths of politicians for at least two years, contributing to a contentious vote.

The basis for the project comes from a series of surveys done by the “Livable Gersthof” group in 2017. The plan was then drawn up together with the city council, Wiener Linien, businesspeople and locals. The first vote was planned in the district parliament for 2019, but it was postponed for a year.

The plan for the redevelopment of Gersthofer Platzl, Source: City of Vienna

During this time, further information and participation processes took place. There was another vote in January 2020, and the ÖVP, SPÖ and FPÖ rejected the project. After that, the elections in autumn significantly shifted the balance of power in the local Währing parliament. The Greens and NEOS now have a narrow but sufficient majority together.

The renovation was an important topic in the election campaign and probably one of the reasons why the aforementioned three parties no longer have a majority in the district’s parliament.

The reason why Michael Trinko, club chairman of the local branch of SPÖ was so reserved towards the project, as reported by Unser Währing, a local online media, is not enough direct democracy and the removal of a particular traffic light on Gentzgasse.

The ruling, in the end, calls for the district to cover almost 40% of the construction costs totalling around 700,000 euros, with the rest coming from the City of Vienna’s government.

District manager Silvia Nossek said at yesterday’s ceremony: “It is symbolic that we are finally starting to redesign this asphalt desert in this first hot period of this summer.

It is high time that the many hundreds of people who are out and about here every day get more space, more greenery, more security. I cannot describe how happy I am that the new Gersthofer Platzl is finally becoming a reality."

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