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Featured Olaf Karriere Christian (FDP) Kiew ChinaWirtschaft

The miracle of Berlin costs more than 140 million euros

Now it is certain: After years of scandals and revelations in recent years, the unique ensemble for contemporary art in Berlin, the Hamburger Bahnhof and the Rieckhallen, is (as good as) saved.

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The miracle of Berlin costs more than 140 million euros

Now it is certain: After years of scandals and revelations in recent years, the unique ensemble for contemporary art in Berlin, the Hamburger Bahnhof and the Rieckhallen, is (as good as) saved. Peter Raue, lawyer and initiator of the "Save the Rieckhallen" campaign, describes the outcome to this newspaper as "a miracle". The conditions have been negotiated by mutual agreement between the real estate group CA Immo, the federal government and the state, and the funds have been approved. The Senate and House of Representatives will agree, and the notary will sign the document.

In all likelihood, the federal government will thus acquire the Hamburger Bahnhof for around 66 million euros. That's a sum that's being traded behind the scenes but won't be made official until early next week. The state will have to raise a little more for the Rieckhallen, namely 70 million euros plus a plot of land at Humboldthafen worth 30 million euros. Originally, CA Immo had asked for two plots of land in exchange.

Why do you ask yourself, is the imposing Hamburger Bahnhof building worth less than the tube-like Rieckhallen? These sums testify one last time to the drama of the past few years. Until 2003, the entire area on Heidestrasse belonged to the federal government, but around 60 hectares then went to the real estate developer CA Immo when they took over the state-owned Vivico.

An unbelievable number of omissions followed in the years that followed. Among other things, a right of first refusal for a fraction of what has to be paid now was simply missed. But the museum staff also shrugged their shoulders.

However, CA Immo had always planned to demolish the Rieckhallen, as the owner it was up to her to plan a new building. It was marked from the start in the Europacity development plan behind the Hamburger Bahnhof. But nobody was interested. People only became aware of this when the end of the lease was approaching: 2021. The added value of this property would have been significantly higher than that of the Hamburger Bahnhof, for which cultural use was specified - and now explains the very high price.

In 2003 nobody gave serious thought to what this failure to intervene could mean for the museum: civic commitment and media persistence have now prevented the catastrophe. Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters (CDU) acted rather unluckily; During their tenure, when the collector Hans Christian Flick removed his collection from the Rieckhallen, the federal and state governments worked against each other, not with each other. The then Mayor Michael Müller (SPD) claimed in 2021 to have saved the Rieckhallen, but he was still a long way from it. 200,000 euros rent per month was finally sold as a success.

But now citizens and taxpayers can believe in the preservation of the museum. The supplementary budget of the State of Berlin was approved on November 12th. It is necessary to raise the 70 million euros for the Rieckhallen. The news has been circulating for two days now, after a confidential conversation in the Chancellery with Minister of State Claudia Roth (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) went well. The purchase agreements between Roth and Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) will be made public next Tuesday.

But how was this clear agreement, which is not quite as lucrative for CA Immo as requested, possible – after years of tough negotiations, marked by mistrust and mutual accusations?

If you talk to the parties involved, the head of department Andreas Görgen from the Ministry of Culture is repeatedly mentioned, who pushed the negotiations forward. And Klaus Lederer (Die Linke), Senator for Culture in Berlin, who made the topic his own. The truth is certain that everyone worked together. One reason, however, is that the real estate developer itself came under pressure from the great media attention and now has to completely renew its damaged reputation. CA Immo would have hung on for decades to demolish the Rieckhallen.

Since January 1, 2022, Silvia Schmitten-Walgenbach has also been at the top as CEO and, in an interview with this newspaper, made it clear how important sustainability issues are to her and how much the Berlin location is important to her. Schmitten-Walgenbach raves about architects like Dörte Mantrup, who received the "Global Award for Sustainable Architecture" in October 2022 and who will work with her company. If CA Immo now recognized the importance of culture just as fundamentally as “sustainability”, this scandal would have had at least one tiny bit of good news – albeit a very expensive one.

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