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Local News Summary of September, 16th

  • Klara 13: The upgrading-dream gets a lighthouse
  • Homicide in Frenkendorf: prosecution press charges

Klara 13: The upgrading-dream gets a lighthouse

Yesterday Clarastrasse received a new culinary heart called „Klara 13“. Upgrading plans which fell by the wayside years ago have been reborn with this long awaited project.

Does anyone remember the cloth discount shop B+A? No? Exactly. For years, Clarastrasse had its golden era and was affectionately named „Boulevard Clara“. At the time, there were many jumble and second-hand shops and tacky outlet stores. That‘s why the city, i.e. Immobilien Basel-Stadt, decided to do something about it. This has happened now, at least at one place.

Wide-ranging offers at Klara 13

A new and fancy eating place opened yesterday at Clarastrasse 13, on the site of the previous B+A discount shop. Nine kitchens are spread out in the spacious hall, and there is also a large bar in the middle. It is expected to offer a range of international food at reasonable prices. Eight of the kitchens have already been rented and there is also a stylish seating area.

The team behind Klara 13 - Valentin Ismail, Lukas Riesen, Neda Schön, and Pascal Biedermann - plan to offer customers lunch and dinner, with the authorised opening hours covering late service. There is also a plan for bands to play in a back area of the hall in the future, according to Mr Biedermann. But the place is also there as a place to have an after-work drink. The entire place has a hipster-touch and floats between nicely presented, a bit untidy, and a little bit silly. In short: an appealing ambiance. And this is exactly what was intended.

Iconography of the Markthalle

It‘s the aesthetics of „Denkstatt sàrl“ which Basel learned to like. Rough floor and walls, furniture thrown together in Baroque style and chosen to give a certain noble aura.

That „Denkstatt“ is recognisable is not a coincidence. The office with its headquarters in Basel specialises in such re-use concepts from Basel to Berlin, and it has already snapped up several places in the city and the region, such as the Gundeldinger Feld or Markthalle. The office had been consulted by the city authorities after not even one offer had been made for the Clarastrasse property tender.

Mr Biedermann is happy about the opportunity but he said he can‘t really understand why nobody had made an offer for the building.

„Private owners often criticise the city for the lack of development in the streets but this building is the only one which really belongs to the city authorities so they cannot do more than advertise it,“ he said.

„The owners of the other properties in the neighbourhood would not mind what was put there; the main thing was that no property was left empty. It is stunning that nobody managed to give the street a better idea other than discounters and outlets.“

A delayed lighthouse project

Mr Biedermann said that it was of course also about making steps to bring a lighthouse project to realisation. He knows the situation very well. „I have seen that with many other projects: If there is a spark, it lights up others easily,“ he said.

For Klara 13 it would be desirable if the area was visited by wealthy customers who don‘t just want to pass through quickly. Among the landlords is the Basel-Stadt pension fund, and they would also benefit if the property got into a circle of development. And it is also appealing to „develop such non-places“.

At first, the team behind Klara 13 dreamt of an opening in mid-April, but this soon became an illusion. The infrastructure of the property was non-existent. Co-operator Neda Schön said: „There was nothing when we took down the ceiling. No ventilation, no heating, nothing!“ The city then made up for it, which can be seen with the massive, silvery shiny ventilation tubes next to the bar.

That‘s not a unique case: Mathias Böhm, manager of Pro Innerstadt, hinted at the start of the Clarastrasse developing project that the reason shops were closing was also due to the old-fashioned buildings they were in.

Music of the future, played in a new way

In 2012, former city developer, Thomas Kessler, said that Clarastrasse „was in an intermediary state“. Five years later there is some energy surrounding the topic. New life has been blossoming in different places: At the other side of the Klara 13, Beschle is building a new branch behind temporary cardboard walls. Closer to the Rhine, at Greifengasse, the Coop is under reconstruction and the neighbours Vögele and a „Fashion Outlet“ want to leave and announced final sales. 

The construction work to broaden the pavements near the bridge will for now not reach Klara 13, however the raising of the pavements was planned to also include Claraplatz. For a long time now, the Clara tower at the corner of Riehenring and Clarastrasse has transferred the metallic-glassy look of the Messeplatz to the other side of the street, while other discounters and furniture outlets have gone from the street. It is certain that Clarastrasse is at the start of development. And Klara 13 is the first seed to blossom.

The entrepreneurs carry the risk of pioneers: „A low seven digit sum“ for the development was needed, which Mr Biedermann had to pull together from private investors and loans. The tenants‘ contract runs for ten years, and an extension will be considered later.

Mr Böhm emphasised that Claraplatz would be another important next step to keeping the junction at Greifengasse vibrant. Projects like Klara 13 which could become a beaming symbol are still decisive so a dynamic could develop, he said. This was definitely felt at the start. It is clear that with the opening of Klara 13, Clarastrasse can get back some of its former glory, and if the project lasts long enough it could also become a success story for the entire street.

Homicide in Frenkendorf: prosecution press charges

Almost two years after a homicide in the village of Frenkendorf, the Baselland prosecution has pressed charges against a convicted double-murderer. A 63-year-old Swiss man is accused of stabbing to death a 64-year-old woman. It is not clear when the suspect will appear at the Baselland criminal court, the prosecution service said on Friday. The accused has already served 15 years in prison for shooting dead a 27-year-old woman and her 30-year-old brother in Hägendorf, Solothurn in 1994.

In 2011, the 63-year-old was granted a conditional release from prison, with a probation period of five years. The murder in Frenkendorf occurred on 12th November 2015, before the probation had expired. According to the prosecution, the pair had been in a relationship which had ended before the woman was murdered.

The body of the woman was discovered by a passer-by in an open garage of an apartment block in Frenkendor. The police arrested the suspect on the same night and since then he has been held in custody.

Conditional release “had correctly expired”

In a reply to a question asked in a canton council meeting in January 2016, the government of Solothurn said the conditional release of the man had been carried out properly and there was nothing to suggest the man would go on to commit another murder.

According to the Solothurn authorities, the man was in the care of the probation service after his conditional release. He had kept regular appointments with a psychotherapist and had shown himself to be cooperative.

In 2009, the canton of Solothurn had refused to grant the man conditional release after the statutory 15 years of imprisonment. The Administrative Court however received a complaint against this decision, and the expert commission for assessing offenders re-assessed the man.

On the basis of a new opinion, the panel declared that the double-murderer was no longer a danger to the public, which is why he was granted conditional release in 2011.

According to the Solothurn government, the requirements for an application for retrospective custody had not been fulfilled at that time. A life-long jail sentence for this conviction was also not legally possible because the custody initiative was only later accepted by the public.