A new 'Kaap' with an old soul

From infamous to famous, from impoverished problem area to trendy hot spot... Katendrecht is where Rotterdam’s new culinary, cultural and creative heart beats strongly. How De Kaap transformed into the definitive example of successful urban development.

An old, authentic De Kaap local is watching in sheer amazement at how a few kids whiz across the cheerful, renovated Deliplein square on their Oxboard, a futuristic, electric ‘sideways skateboard’. Trendy restaurants, lunchrooms and cafés. Theater Walhalla, the daily traditional market for fresh produce at Fenix Food Factory, Circus Rotjeknor and dynamic festivals... Today’s Kaap vibrates with life. Or, as the facade of e-bike shop Crooze says it: ‘The Future is now.’

Sounds of yesteryear
And yet... when you stroll along the peninsula, you’ll also feel as if you could step into the past at any second. The rhythmic splashing of the Maas against the riverbanks. With a bit of imagination, you can hear the humming factories and heaving ship engines of yore. Freight trains pounding their way down the tracks. In the Fenix docks, the giant bundles of barley, cocoa and coffee are waiting to be transported... The sounds of the early twentieth century have never really left Katendrecht. In those times, De Kaap used to be a rough and fickle hodge-podge of industry, harbour warehouses, railyards, working-class houses, sailor’s taverns and other notorious places of entertainment. When the harbour activities moved away in the latter half of the last century, crime was on the rise and the peninsula went into decline.

‘Can you handle De Kaap?’
Until the turn of the century. In the 2003 master plan entitled ‘The core of Katendrecht’, the Municipality of Rotterdam outlined the grand-scale redevelopment of the inner harbour and industrial site to into an urban residential and living area. Together with developer Proper-Stok and the Woonstad Rotterdam housing association, the municipality gave Katendrecht a new lease on liffe. The district campaign ‘Can you handle De Kaap?’ boosted the image of the up-and-coming area. Investments in a health centre, community school, day care centre and a Chinese church elevated social amenities to a higher level. One of the area’s major eye-catchers is Kaap Park: 6,000 m2 of greenery connecting old and new parts of Katendrecht.

Beautifully renovated houses combine modern residential comfort with the original atmosphere of the inner harbours. The spacious lanes with stylish newly-buily homes and architectural masterpieces. De Kaap beckons. De Kaap is flirtatious, inviting; it tempts yuppies, starters, entrepreneurs, well-to-do families and senior citizens. The new Katendrecht takes on more and more personality. At the end of our walk, another icon awaits us which embodies the connection between past and present. Back in its home port, once the legendary flagship of the Holland-America Line, the ss Rotterdam has embarked on a shore-bound second childhood. A new life with an old soul. Just like Katendrecht.

More info: website Kun jij de Kaap aan? (in Dutch)

Rotterdam. Make it Happen.