Milieu sind wir! ...
...is an initiative of tenants in a listed building complex in the social conservation area Weberwiese in Berlin-Friedrichshain, located between Warschauer Straße, Frankfurter Tor and Ostbahnhof. Our buildings comprise 35 floors with a total of almost 500 flats, in which hundreds of tenants live, some of them since the buildings were built in 1954.
Since 2012, the houses have been successively divided into condos, some only in summer 2015. One year later, in August 2016, the social conservation area came into effect. As part of a share deal, the flats became the property of the company White Tulip GmbH (part of the investment company Round Hill Capital, managed by Residea Immobilien Management GmbH) and work began on marketing the condos internationally under the name 54East.
After nothing had been done about our crumbling facades and dilapidated window frames in the 30 years after the fall of communism, facades, ornaments, staircases and gardens of half of the houses have now been restored in a manner befitting a listed building. However, this obviously only serves to improve the marketing of the flats, because the needs and requirements of the existing tenants are not taken into account at all. The electrics and bathrooms remain unrenovated, some of the window frames are not renewed.
The ensemble now resembles a Swiss cheese: in many buildings, individual flats have already been sold, and many flats have been rented commercially furnished for years through third-party companies such as Orbis, Wunderflats, NM Co-Living GmbH, Stellar Living (part of Residea Development GmbH). At the same time, there were also many vacancies and in some buildings individual empty flats were renovated.
Our property management company Residea is currently commissioning an external company, Prints Immobilien, to contact many tenants, make them concrete offers to buy, or offer them compensation for moving out and to conclude termination agreements. However, very few tenants have the financial means to make use of their right of first refusal and the settlement payments are of little help, considering the dwindling chances of finding comparable housing in Berlin today.
In the last three years, about 50% of the buildings have already been renovated in accordance with the preservation order, i.e. the facades, roofs and staircases have been refurbished, but at some point this construction work then got stuck and the remaining 17 buildings continued to remain unrenovated. The scaffolding disappeared more than a year ago, and since then only small repairs have been made here and there. In addition, there is one block that has not been repaired or externally renovated since 1954.
Our ensemble was designed in 1954 according to the model of the architect Rudolf Weise and is of special urban-historical and social significance in the context of the development of today's Karl-Marx-Allee. After the end of the war, it was part of the first contiguous new development area in East Berlin. The original purpose at the time was to offer good housing standards for little money.
The social structure in our neighbourhood is still very mixed, but the vast majority is still dependent on socially acceptable rental housing. After reunification, our ensemble originally became the property of the WBF (now WBM). While a smaller part of the original ensemble (at the corner of Marchlewski / Wedekindstraße, opposite Police Headquarters 5) remained in the hands of WBF, the majority was sold for the first time in 1998 to a private investor - the Duisburg company IBC - which had to file for insolvency shortly afterwards. The ensemble was then administered by an insolvency administrator. It was not until 2006 that another sale took place to the city's well-known investor Taekker. In 2017, the property was transferred to the current main owner White Tulip in the form of a share deal.
In view of the extremely tight housing market and the lack of social housing in Berlin, here and now is an opportunity for the state of Berlin and the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg to preserve affordable housing in the Milieuschutz area, which has already existed since 2016, and to fulfil its social responsibility towards us, the existing tenants. The social structure of our buildings is extremely mixed - students from all over the world live next door to families and first-time tenants - and should definitely be protected from speculative sale and purely profit-oriented exploitation strategies. Originally designed for the working class, the ensemble is part of Berlin's iconic cityscape and a backdrop for films like "The Lives of Others" or the series "Weissensee" - some of the people whose lives in the former GDR are depicted there still live in these houses.
Our concern is to stand up for the preservation of our home and ancestral neighbourhood and to save the houses we live in from being sold off. It is impossible for us to do this alone, but we are dependent on the help of politicians and the public sector. That is why we are looking for ways and means to find a common solution with the help of public financing models and in dialogue with the owners, which also serves the common good.
Disclaimer: We do not claim the accuracy and completeness of the data mentioned here.
(Translated by DeepL)