In 1998, the European Central Bank (ECB) began its search for a suitable site on which to build its new offices in Frankfurt. In total, 35 sites were investigated, one of which was the Grossmarkthalle (the city’s former fruit and vegetable wholesale market hall) in the Ostend district.
A feasibility study, conducted jointly with the Frankfurt architecture office Jourdan & Müller in 1999, concluded that the site of the Grossmarkthalle was eminently suitable for the construction of the ECB’s new premises and that the old market hall itself could be well incorporated into the ECB’s new headquarters. In early 2002, the City of Frankfurt and the ECB signed the purchase agreement.
The Grossmarkthalle – or “Gemieskirch” (‘vegetable church’) as it is popularly known locally – was where fruit and vegetable merchants bought and sold their wares up until June 2004. Produce from the wholesale market was delivered to within a radius of 200 km around Frankfurt. Today, the wholesale market is located in the Frischezentrum, a new complex in the district of Kalbach.
The Grossmarkthalle site between the Osthafen docks and the city centre already has sound infrastructure links, also a legacy of the functional requirements of the former wholesale market. Although the many related delivery depots and warehouses, wharfs and disused freight tracks have left their industrial mark on the location, the area has been in a state of transition from industry to services since the wholesale market’s departure. Since the final decade of the last century, the same has also been true of the surrounding areas of the city. For instance, the street on the western side of the Grossmarkthalle (Oskar-von-Miller-Strasse) has been fully redeveloped with residential and office buildings. The ECB’s move to the Grossmarkthalle site constitutes one key component in the urban development of the Ostend district.