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Berlin’s fringe artistic community are being threatened by glossy new hotels, trendy bars and designer stores.
This is nothing new and the phenomenon is perhaps common in most large European urban centers – the buying-up and renovation of houses, stores, and warehouses in deteriorated urban areas by upper or middle-income earners- improving property values but also often displacing low-income families, small businesses and artists.
Can, and more importantly should, Berlin do something to stop this so-called ‘gentrification’ in Berlin’s upwardly mobile ‘Mitte’ and Prenzlauer Berg districts?
Berlin real estate is by all accounts part of a rising and healthy market local resurgence – property prices in Berlin are rising slowly but surely.
Residential property is especially interesting – It is hip to live in Berlin – or ‘Berlin is sexy’ as the mayor calls it.
In comparison to a stolid and sluggish worldwide real-estate market, driven by the angst and anxiety being felt in international stock markets and banking circles– the Berlin real-estate market has withstood these negative trends well and as a result is presently enjoying keen and enthusiastic international interest.
While the Berlin areas of ‘Mitte’ and ‘Prenzlauer Berg’ are the main areas for Berlin developers, the adjacent area of ‘Friedrichshain’ is becoming of interest because of high prices and apparent paucity of supply in both Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg.
However the city of Berlin is also aware that its reputation is built on creativity and culture creative industries account for more than 20% of the city’s gross domestic product – mostly driven by tourism.
Berlin, the capital of Germany and also one of Germany’s Lander or States -as Washington DC is in the US – is presently 60 billion Euros in debt, and cannot be seen to be buying up prime real estate in the name of ‘culture’.
With prices sometimes reaching 3500 Euro/per sq.m both Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg are slowly pricing itself out of the market and no longer suitable for average families – even with double incomes – never mind budding artists who need even more room with studios and work areas.
‘ Tacheles’ a former 1930’s six floor department store in Berlin ‘Mitte’ – an abandoned building in 1989 after the Berlin Wall came down – was taken over by artist-squatters. The crumbling facade became Berlin’s most famous symbol of alternative culture, housing 30 artist studios and galleries, a theater, bars and clubs.
But like other independent spaces and cultural centers located on prime real estate, ‘Tacheles’ has a problem.
An investment company bought the property in the 1990s, wanting to develop the site eventually -in the interim they negotiated a lease with the artists, which has since expired and Tacheles ‘communities’ were all served eviction notices.
The whole property has since been taken over by HSH Nordbank and reportedly intends to sell the entire property as a single unit, and refuses to sell the Tacheles building and grounds separately.
The building itself is safe – it is heritage-listed and it must be used for a cultural purpose.
The UK based Guardian wrote about Tacheles in yesterdays edition – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/16/berlin-gentrification-yuppification-squat
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Kunsthaus Tacheles – While Berlins Real-estate market counters world-wide trends – ‘Gentrification’ could become a dirty word in Berlin – by OTA-Berlin Constituency contributor Emil Hoogensteyn from OTA Berlin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License. If you use this article or parts of it, please refer to http://www.ota-berlin.de.