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Berlin Wall to be torn down for luxury flats
Photo: DPA

Berlin Wall to be torn down for luxury flats

Published: 26 Feb 2013 12:26 GMT+01:00
Updated: 26 Feb 2013 12:26 GMT+01:00

Berliners are outraged at plans to demolish part of the world-famous East Side Gallery, the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall, to make way for luxury apartments and a pedestrian bridge across the River Spree.

Rumuors this week that a segment of the Wall would be torn down to make way for a block of flats were confirmed by Franz Schulz, mayor of the city's eastern district of Friedrichshain, daily Die Welt wrote on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, several petitions circulating online demanding an end to the project have collected thousands of signatures.

"The longest remaining part of the wall on the former death strip, along with the public river bank would be completely and permanently destroyed," read one petition, placing the blame squarely on developers of luxury flats.

The East Side Gallery is a 1.3-kilometre stretch of the Wall marking the former border between East and West Berlin. Now covered in murals by artists from around the world, it is the second most popular visitor attraction in the German capital after the Brandenburg Gate.

Some estimates put the average number of visitors at 1,000 a day, while up to 10,000 people are thought to walk along the former death strip on the banks of the Spree River on sunny days in summer.

Several years ago, a 50-metre segment of the Wall was removed to provide access to a boat landing area for the o2 arena opposite, and moved so that it now stands between the water and the rest of the Wall.

Now, construction is due to begin this spring on "Living Levels," a 63-metre-high tower to be built on the narrow stretch of land between the Wall and the river bank.

Several further concrete segments will be removed to provide access to the 36 new private luxury flats, which will be sold for anything between €2,750 and €7,000 per square metre.

But, said Schulz, the segment of Wall also needs to go so that pedestrians can make use of a new bridge to be built across the river connecting East and West Berlin.

Click here for The Local's property listings

Work is expected to begin in 2015 on the new "Brommybrücke," which will connect Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain for cyclists and pedestrians. It will be built on the site of an old vehicle bridge of the same name which was destroyed by bombing in 1945.

Tearing down part of the Wall, Schulz told the paper, is the only "way to link the planned Brommy bridge over the Spree with Mühlenstraße."

Vocal protests from citizens groups against the plans to develop the Spree bank have been backed by nearby giants of the Berlin clubbing scene, including Kater Holzig, Sage Club, Watergate, Tresor and Lido.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:46 February 26, 2013 by LiberalGuy
Seriously? Why there? Whats wrong with the empty block 1km down the river near the molecule man sculpture? Or the piece of land on the other side of the street from the wall?
13:39 February 26, 2013 by simski
"Click here for The Local's property listings"

Smooth, The Local. Smooth.
15:41 February 26, 2013 by owlguard
I understand that housing is a problem in Berlin but why there?
15:53 February 26, 2013 by iche
@ The Local:

"Click here for The Local's property listings"

That link, in that location is beyond stupid!!
16:00 February 26, 2013 by lucksi
Do you know how high the chances are that you get a permission to change the slightest bit in a home that has been set under protection of historic buildings and monuments and that isn't even a tourists destination?

Next to non-existant.

I'm not saying that someone greased the gears in Berlin, because that would be libelous, but...
16:16 February 26, 2013 by Omufu
That is a moronic place to put a block of flats. I lived near there for years and relaxed in that park. Totally agree with lucksi and liberalguy. Somewhere lies a fatcat who doesn't give...
16:44 February 26, 2013 by catjones
If it's private property and correctly zoned then where's the beef? If the gov wants to call it historic, then let them buy the land. That's how the world works.
18:42 February 26, 2013 by Jeffvm
Local politicians, voted in place by all you dear Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain readers, decided on this many years ago and there's little they can do now. The investor was apparently willing to swap this land for a similar plot elsewhere, but Berlin failed to deliver.
20:01 February 26, 2013 by blackboot11
Berlin was historically, one of the most bombed cities in the world. And the tradition continues in a contemporary version, thanks its the greedy and unforesightful politicians and their banker/investor type friends.
07:11 February 27, 2013 by melbournite
It would really be an insult to German as well as world history to demolish even part of the East Gallery. What I get from the place is not so much the despair of the Wall but the spirit of resistance that brought it down. These days that spirit of resistance is needed against the greed of the moronic rich
18:24 February 27, 2013 by blackboot11
Such an important part of berlin'S history is at stake here. And with the MAIN industry in Berlin being tourism/historic tourism, this destruction of what should be a national memorial is out of control. I am quite sure that people will not say "Oh lets go to Berlin to check out the new Schloss..." The politicians look on moronically as these treasures of Berlin are being destroyed one by one.

I wonder how long Berlin will survive in this mode of spiting itself?
13:33 February 28, 2013 by princigalli
Berlin doesn't have any self respecting leaders. They all try to cash in with luxury flats that Berliners can't afford. No rules are followed, there is no plan for the people, I think you see this attitude only in the most corrupt third world countries.
03:43 March 1, 2013 by bugger
Smooth move, ex-lax (aka German real estate guys)
10:29 March 1, 2013 by JDee
it's the 1st March not the 1st of April.. ?

Berlin doesn't have what the other great capitals of Europe have as a destination, for better or worse it's USP is it's war time history, the cold war history and the alternative scences that sprung up there, including the Graffiti. I really regret that I didn't get there 20 years ago, but I visited several times recently and you can still taste a little of that atmosphere.. but only just.. take away the few remaining squats and derelict sites and the interest is gone, no big reason to visit any more, there are better places to go. If I want to see crappy shiny apartment blocks there's always my next trip back to Birmingham where they made a similar mistake. And btw there are millions of sqm of empty property in Berlin which are being sat on by the government, they couldn't release all the empty property onto the market because then the prices would collapse. Berlin property is a long term managed bubble, although this is common in many cities, but be careful if you are investing.
11:21 March 1, 2013 by melbournite
The East Side Gallery is being torn down right at this minute. History wont forgive such a disgraceful act
14:49 March 1, 2013 by Berliner1978
Is it just me or are there so many former DDR types and their sympathizer's in positions of influence that are bent on removing any remnants/reminders of their defeat.........I mean, I know Berlin was always a "red city" but really.....the guard house at the front gate of McNair Barracks was a historically protected structure, the developers just knocked it down in the middle of the night and paid the fine, cost of doing business.....as long as a connected developer makes money, "alles in ornung"....remember that Germany is rated one of the most corrupt countries in Europe as far as these kinds of things go.
12:48 March 8, 2013 by Dyderich
Dunno....I think tear it down its only a wall....historic? Germans want to erase as much of history as possible especially linking anything to their war on others... If you are going to go and remove every little decal on a model tank or airplane that showed a swastika, then why the heck bother with keeping this wall? Its all symbolisms...get rid of it like everything else that Germany cannot stomach anymore rather than stand firm and say...Ok we did something bad back about a half century ago...we almost conquered the world as a tiny little country and had to have the rest of the world practically step up to stomp us down....so now we accept this and continue onward...We do not recognize names like Adolf as being EVIL or the Swastika as anything other than what it was originally....a holy symbol utilized by a fascist group who is no longer in power. But to dwell on the past like some starving homeless guy at a trash can, come on....its a wall - thats is. If it has more meaning than that....well lets stop the nitpicking of the symbols from those past times.....if you want to Heil Hitler someone, who cares....Hitler is dead...there is nothing it does but shows you believe in the same thing perhaps as his Fascist group - and you can rejoice or feel sad for that person....either way its ok.....
15:40 March 12, 2013 by BLAKE IT UP!
...Plain and simple, it's insensitive to Berlin and what Berlin is about.

So many tourists (regardless of rich or poor) pushing to make Berlin adjust to their comfort rather than enjoy it for what it is.

If this kind of senseless rebuilding persists, you can probably count on it being like New York, where the once artistic districts thrived with wonderful life is now nothing but a money enforced over sanitized insensitive population of rich people.

Weather people are coming here to get wasted for the weekend or shop for property, I think they need schooling on what Berlin is really about to prevent Berlin becoming like Las Vegas.
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