Is Berlin the Next Big Thing in Real Estate?

Ever since the 2000s, real estate speculation is big in Berlin and from many parts of the world investors look on Berlin, considering purchases. This has good and bad in it, obviously: Berlin’s notorious dynamics have a construction side, as a lot is being planned, developed, and built. So the city in which for long decades after World War II you were still finding proof for destruction and decay, now seems to be getting shinier by the minute. Whole new neigborhoods have been erected, for until Corona came Berlin saw a considerable rise in population numbers.

The bad side: the boom sent real estate prices and rent levels up quickly, too. Gentrification takes over in formerly cheap neighborhoods, such as Neukölln, the current in-district. For decades, Neukölln was rather shabby and nothing to get enthusiastic about. Now, however, the international in-crowd moving to Berlin wants to find housing there, where the music plays, as Germans say. This triggered gentrification development and makes neighborhoods interesting targets for investors. 

One of them, Rene Benko from Austria who chose Berlin as his real estate playground, pursues a project Berliners have a hard time to come to terms with: At Hermannplatz, located in-between Neukölln and equally hip Kreuzberg, he plans to reconstruct a famous department house from the 1920s. Back then, the modernist building reminiscent of New York highrisers of the period was a symbol both of Berlins resurrection after World War I and the many crises after, and of Berlin’s „americanization“ when lots of investment and development was being financed with US credits. 

On the one hand it would be great to have it back, as the project for sure would mean an upgrade fort he nighborhood which is rather poor and shabby. However, many people living there object Benko’s dream for fear they might not be able to afford their apartments anymore. What in New York would not be much of an issue is quite a fight in Berlin. Here, a majority lives in rented apartments.  

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