Tag Archives: gentrification

New apartments, anyone? Anyone?!?

14 Nov

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Who in Berlin wouldn’t want new apartments?

It’s a Sunday afternoon and the sun is shining. A colleague and I have gone to Tempelhofer Feld, once an airport and now a 355-hectare park, to find the answer to this question. We have a giant banner – “5000 new apartments and a new city library!” – and petitions so that visitors can express their support for the government’s plans to put this giant field to use with housing, a library, a school and more. The Tempelhofer Projekt GmbH recently wrote in a press release that their plans for construction implement “citizens’ wishes”. So we set up at a Neukölln entrance to the park in order to find a few of these citizens.

People walk past us with strollers, kites and bicycles. They smile and approach us – and then they see the banner. “Wait, you’re for the construction of the field?!?” Whether they are young people with dreads, new parents with babies or old people with canes, the smiles disappear: “Nein!” “Auf keinen Fall!” “Tschüss!”

My colleague and I had even dressed in bright red to avoid being confused with the activists from the initiative 100% Tempelhofer Feld in their lime green jackets who oppose any construction.

We studied all the arguments in favor:

“There will only be construction around the edges, no more than 15 percent of the total space,” I tell an inline skater, “so there will still be an enormous field in the middle.” You don’t need a full 355 hectares for skating, right?

“New apartment buildings will release pressure on the housing market” my colleague reassures two young men, “and the city needs housing.” We smile like Mormon missionaries – we won’t be deterred in our quest for signatures.

When people say “they’re only going to build luxury apartments”, we repeat the government’s promise that half of the housing will be affordable. But then we have to admit that this is only a non-binding declaration of intent, and in this case “affordable” means €6-8 rent per square meter. “I could only afford that if I squeezed onto two meters” says a bike rider as he drives away.

We repeatedly hear that there are enough empty apartments in the city or enough space elsewhere to build new housing. Most people snort and walk off, but some get really angry. “People like you should be beaten up!” says a middle-aged woman we assume is a preschool teacher. At least she used the respectful Sie form to threaten violence.

Somewhere out there must be Berliners who favor the construction plans. But after almost an hour, we still haven’t found a single one who wants to sign. The woman a few meters away with a petition against construction has gathered 30 signatures. This seems, at least according to our experiment, to be the wish of the citizenry.

Source: http://www.exberliner.com/blogs/the-blog/john-riceburg-new-apartments/

Picture: Benjamin Pritzkuleit

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Wir sagen mal Ja zum Beton

13 Nov

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Unterschriften gegen Neubauten am Tempelhofer Feld ­sammeln kann ja jeder. Aber dafür? Berlin braucht doch Wohnungen. Wir haben einen Selbstversuch gewagt

“Lobbykacke!” Das ruft uns ein dünner Herr mit grauen Haaren zu, als er mit dem Fahrrad vorbeirast. Vorbei an uns. Und unserem Plakat: “Feld bebauen – jetzt!” Der Mann will offenbar keine 5 000 neuen Wohnungen in Berlin. Selbst schuld.

Es ist ein strahlender Sonntag im Herbst, viele Menschen gehen vom Neuköllner Schillerkiez auf das Tempelhofer Feld. Am schmalen Tor stehen wir. Ein Journalist, seine Begleiterin, eine Unterschriftenliste und ein Banner, das ein befreundeter Grafiker gemacht hat: “Neue Landesbibliothek. 5 000 neue Wohnungen.”

So, wie es der Senat vorhat mit dem ehemaligen Flughafenareal. Dagegen will die Initiative 100 % Tempelhofer Feld bis zum Januar 174 000 Unterschriften für ein Volksbegehren gegen jegliche Bebauung am Feld sammeln. Dabei versicherte doch die stadteigene GmbH Tempelhofer Projekt per Pressemitteilung, der Senatsbauplan setze nur “Bürgerwünsche” um.

Wir sind heute hier, die Bürger zu diesen Wünschen zu suchen.

Ein paar Meter weiter steht eine Frau, die Unterschriften für das Volksbegehren sammelt. Gegen die Bebauung. Gegen uns. Sie guckt ein paarmal zu uns rüber. Was die wohl denkt?

Und die Bürger kommen. Mit Kinderwagen, Fahrrädern und Drachen. Viele lächeln, bieten gleich Unterschriften für unsere Liste an. Der schnelle Erfolg überrascht uns. Wir erklären nochmals unser Anliegen. Das ändert alles.”Waaaas?” Ihr seid für die Bebauung? Nicht dagegen?”

Dabei haben wir uns extra knallrot angezogen, um uns von den limettenfarbenen Jacken unserer Gegner abzuheben.

Nun aber trifft uns die geballte Verachtung der Bürger. “Nein, danke!” – “Das will ich nicht!” – “Tschüss!” Eine Dame mit Filzhut wütet gar: “Leuten wie Ihnen würde ich am liebsten eine runterhauen!” Dann schimpft sie noch über den “Schwachsinn” der “Investoren”. Immerhin siezt sie uns.

Die Frau von der Bürgerinitiative nebenan ist sehr freundlich. Sobald die Menschen sich entsetzt von uns abwenden, läuft sie ihnen hinterher und gibt ihnen die Gegenliste. Ihre Kollegin dagegen beschimpft uns: “Wer bezahlt euch denn?”

Aber so schnell geben wir nicht auf. Wir sind schließlich argumentativ voll auf Senatsebene. “Höchstens 15 Prozent des Feldes sollen bebaut werden”, erkläre ich einem Inlineskater, „da wird es immer noch eine riesige Freifläche in der Mitte geben!“ Zum Skaten braucht man doch nicht ganze 355 Hektar, oder? “Neue Wohnungen werden den Markt entlasten”, predigt meine Kollegin kurz darauf zwei jungen Männern. Und den nächsten Passanten versichere ich, als wäre ich Michael Müller persönlich: “Es sollen nicht nur Luxuswohnungen entstehen! Auf der Tempelhofer Seite wird auch bezahlbarer Wohnraum gebaut!” Die Leute gucken kurzzeitig interessierter. Bis wir zugeben, dass “bezahlbar” eine Kaltmiete von sechs bis acht Euro pro Quadratmeter bedeutet. Wir können ja auch nichts dafür.

“Das kann man nur bezahlen, wenn man sich auf zwei Quadratmeter zusammenquetscht!”, sagt ein Fahrradfahrer. “Sozialbauwohnungen in öffentlicher Hand wären gut”, grübelt ein junger Mann, der ein bisschen bekifft wirkt. Andere schimpfen: “Berlin hat schon genug leer stehende Wohnungen!” Oder: “Es gibt genug Fläche für Neubau, wenn sie überall neue Baumärkte errichten können.”

Eine Stunde und einige Beleidigungen später geben wir auf. Unsere Bilanz: keine einzige Unterschrift für mehr Wohnungen. Die Ausbeute der Volksbegehren-Frau in dieser Zeit: 30.

Quelle: http://www.tip-berlin.de/kultur-und-freizeit-stadtleben-und-leute/Volksbegehren-Tempelhofer-Feld

Bild: Benjamin Pritzkuleit

Does this loft seem familiar to you?

16 Oct

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Every once in a while, you look at the ads for expensive new condominiums in Berlin, right? Well, for some reason, I do. I feel rage when I picture the Bonzen* who live there: rage at their ridiculously privileged lifestyle, but also rage at myself for feeling a bit curious. Wouldn’t it be nice to have heated floors instead of cold feet? Would I be happier with panorama windows instead of a shadowy Hinterhof?

This one put on the market just this year, however, is in a case by itself. On the West side of Kreuzberg, this amazing loft could be yours. Imagine what you could do with six rooms that are each four meters high – impromptu indoor basketball game, anyone? Imagine all the fun you could have with 252sqm, including designer furniture (such as this tasteful Zebra-skin rug – the ad doesn’t say if it’s real or not). All that’s missing is a Mona Lisa in the bathroom, like Daddy Warbucks had.

That could be an amazing WG – and all you need is €4,000 per month. That’s just €700 for each Mitbewohner – of course, if you can afford that, you might not want to live in shared housing.

This loft is in the Yorckstraße 59a – the former address of the left-wing house project Yorck59. Until eight years ago, this was home to 60 people and also included rooms for political meetings. The house had been leased in 1988, but by 2005, the owner wanted to double the rent and had the tenants evicted. In the early morning of June 6, more than 500 police violently dispersed a sit-down blockade in front of the Yorck. One woman was beaten so badly that she lost consciousness and had to be taken away in an ambulance. The same evening, several thousand people demonstrated against the eviction. I remember that at one point everyone started running and I was toppled over by a bicycle right in front of me, almost breaking my wrist. (“No babies, no dogs, no bicycles!” at demonstrations, people!)

Luckily, the residents of the Yorck were able to find a new home: a few days later, they occupied the south wing of the Bethanien on Mariannenplatz and remain there to this day (hence the clever name “New Yorck”). There you still have space for a political film showing, a solidarity party for a lesbian-queer-trans initiative or a home for illegal immigrants. But the new lofts in the Old Yorck shows what is happening to the living space in this city: where 60 people used to live, now you will have underused party flats for billionaires from Moscow, Doha or even the rare one from Berlin.

That’s why I feel more rage about this condominium than any of the others. When two thousand people demonstrated in Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain against rising rents on September 29, a number of yuppies must have wondered why police trucks were parked in front of their houses to protect them from the angry mob. A lot of them are probably Ökos – maybe they were demonstrating themselves a few years ago. It must be strange to see people demonstrating against your house. Well, if you’re reading this and you were wondering, this is what everyone is so upset about. And you’re part of the problem, whether you think you are or not.

Now isn’t it weird that Neuberliner get more excited about this than the natives? I’ve only been here for a decade, but I wear my “Die Yuppie Scum” shirt and protest against gentrification all the time. It was Kurt Tucholsky who wrote in 1921: “The real Berliner comes from Breslau or Posen.” The two cities are now in Poland (Wroclaw and Poznan), but real Berliners still come from far away to defend the city the way it was long before they arrived. Now the “real Berliner” might hail from Madrid, Haifa or Houston – but still defends the city’s great traditions of protest against the real gentrifiers.

* Bonzen is a disparaging word for anyone in power that doesn’t have a precise equivalent in English. The rich are of course Bonzen, but the well-paid leaders of the trade unions are Gewerkschaftsbonzen while the higher-ups in East Germany’s regime were Parteibonzen. Germans’ deference to authority is somewhat compensated by this wonderful word full of hate of anyone in power, far more spiteful than “fat cats” or any English translation.

Source: http://www.exberliner.com/blogs/the-blog/john-riceburg-does-this-loft-seem-familiar-to-you/

Foto: URBAN ARTefakte