Development plan for Potsdamer and Leipziger Platz. Environmental experts describe the potentially damaging impact of the planned towers on the environment as a ring of warm air which could surround Tiergarten Park and raise average yearly temperatures in the inner city by 1.5 degrees. To help counter this effect, experts propose the construction of Gleisdreieck Park with a size of 60 hectares (with 30 hectares actually realized) and with no further geometric obstructions standing between Tiergarten Park and the southern edge of the city. This was the rationale behind Gleisdreieck’s function as an ecological buffer zone, and was then financed by the investors of Potsdamer and Leipziger Platz projects.
Exchange of Notes between Deutsche Bahn and the City of Berlin. The agreement states that the City of Berlin may purchase 16 hectares of Land at 80 DM/m² for the construction of an ecological buffer zone. 8 – 10 of the total 16 hectares are to be located at former Potsdamer Güterbahnhof freight depot, west of the new train line and reaching to the edge of the Landwehrkanal. The rest of the proposed area is to be located at the former Anhalter Güterbahnhof freight depot (Gleisdreieck Park’s eastern half, today’s Ostpark). As compensation, the City of Berlin ensures investors’ building rights, to be finalized in future negotiations.
- Construction logistics for Potsdamer and Leipziger Platz finish up at Gleisdreieck.
- A petition for judicial review by the Interessengemeinschaft Gleisdreieck (Gleisdreieck interest group) is rejected by a Berlin administrative court. Gleisdreieck interest group files suit because the ecological compensation area for Potsdamer Platz has not yet been secured. The administrative court rejects the petition on the grounds that the city in the meantime has submitted a draft for a land use plan in which four areas are to be designated as ecological compensation areas.
- Formation of the Aktionsgemeinschaft Gleisdreieck e.V. (registered association) in response to an election campaign proposal by Berlin CDU and FDP party fractions to resurrect the long-defunct Westtangente Autobahn – plans for a new autobahn project running through Schöneberg which had been dropped a decade before in the 1980’s.
Berlin governing mayor Wowereit and building commissioner Junge-Reyer propose erecting the world’s largest ferris wheel at Gleisdreieck freight depot loading docks. The nearby Technikmuseum, local residents and citizen groups come out in force against the plans.
The city counters that, if the so-called “Schwechtenpark” (the name given to the area by the investor VIVICO) does not incorporate a ferris wheel, then the planning contract for the area cannot proceed. Research by the Berliner Zeitung brings to light previous involvement in a Hamburg corruption scandal by the World-Wheel-Holding’s director. Technikmuseum presents a wealthy patron willing to donate to the museum on the condition that no ferris wheel is built. Plans for the ferris wheel are re-located to Bahnhof Zoo Station and eventually end in insolvency. Investors in the plan take €200 Million in losses. According to later Tagesspiegel newspaper research, the Technikmuseum’s proposed donor never possessed sufficient assets to cover the donation.
City planning framework contract signed between investors VIVICO, the City of Berlin, and the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. The original four construction areas in the land use plan are divided into five: Schwechtenpark (bought by the City of Berlin for the Technikmuseum as a condition to signing the contract), Möckernkiez, Yorckdreieck, Urbane Mitte, and Flottwellpromenade. Shortly before the contract is signed the maximum allowed construction area receives an increase. The size of Potsdamer Güterbahnhof freight depot as ecological compensation, in the original exchange of notes from 1994 allocated a size of 8 – 10 hectares, is reduced to 4 hectares. The missing compensation area is allocated to Anhalter Güterbahnof (today’s Ostpark). Development of the Flottwellpromende area, not included in the original land use plan, turns the Westpark into a narrow strip.
The framework contract designates the construction project “Urbane Mitte” as follows: 4.3 hectares gross development area, 3.4 hectares net development area, and a floor space index of 3.5. The proposed net development area turns out later to be incorrect due to investors VIVICO underestimating the space needed for train lines S1, S2, as well as planning for the yet to be developed S21 (including emergency staging area and tunnel), the BVG subway station Gleisdreieck, and the STATION event location (former Postbahnhof).
- Landscape planning competition for Gleisdreieck Park. The winner is Atelier Loidl.
- Drafting of the development plan for Gleisdreieck, split up later into separate project development plans.
Park development begins in January, establishing the working group “PAG” to accompany ongoing projects. Group members are: Loidl Atelier, Berlin Senate administration, district administrations of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Tempelhof-Schöneberg, and six elected local residents’ representatives.
Allotment garden colony “POG” is preserved and integrated into the future park. A sporting association location, originally allocated by the Senate to the garden space, is moved to the rooftop of Hellweg home improvement store at Yorckdreieck. The decision is preceded by a round table chaired by district mayor Schulz with participation from garden members, sporting associations, and citizens groups.
Opening of the Ostpark
Opening of the Westpark
Opening of the Flaschenhalspark
COPRO acquires the property “Urbane Mitte” from CA Immo / VIVICO for €7.8 million.
COPRO makes first appearance as “Urbane Mitte” investor, announcing three technical and citizen “dialogues”.
The first citizens dialogue is drowned out by demolition noise from of the old Ringbahn viaduct at Gleisdreieck station.
Investor COPRO presents a “Consensus Concept” with a target size of 100,00 m² of gross floor area. Critical voices raised during previous citizen group discussions are swept aside.
International architectural competition. All 25 architects’ submissions manage to exceed the 110,00 m² gross floor area size. Two winners are declared – “Ortner and Ortner” and “Cobe Berlin”, as the jury is unable to decide on a single winner.
The first (so-called early) public viewing of the development plan for Urbane Mitte is based on the two winning submissions. First mention of 119,000 m² floor space area. Critical input submitted by over 200 local residents.
After public viewing of the development plan, preference is given to the design from “Ortner and Ortner”. The architectural office “Ortner and Ortner” has worked together with COPRO in the past.
Cement trucks line up for days along Schöneberger Strasse during the pouring of the foundation for BRLO brewery – a foretaste of more construction work to come: https://gleisdreieckverkehr-blog.tumblr.com/page/5
200 critical opinions, submitted by citizens over the development plan, are disregarded by the city in their review. The Bezirksverordnetenversammlung district council waves the plan through to the next round.
After several delays the investor presents a logistics and traffic concept for Urbane Mitte, projecting that Schöneberger, Lückenwalder, and Trebbiner Strasse can all easily accommodate increases in traffic and leaving unmentioned the fact that all three streets already suffer from serious congestion.
The development plan is divided into a northern and southern area. The new S-Bahn line S21 is designated to run through the northern section of the site, but train operator Deutsche Bahn is unable to provide definitive plans for the exact route.
Limited holding Urbane Mitte Besitz GmbH is sold to a Luxembourg entity as part of a share deal. The purchase is financed by the investment firm DLE Funds. The market value in the contract is listed at €162 million. DLE Funds then informs its investors that the value of the property is €204 million. The market value in the Berlin land registry is listed at €11.3 million. (All facts which come to light two years later).
November 1st, 2020
General meeting of the Urbane Mitte Besitz S.àr.l. in Luxembourg. 89% now belongs to the GLB Projekt 4 S.à.r.l., which itself belongs 100% to DLE Funds. The remaining 11% of Urbane Mitte Besitz stays in the possession of its former owners. 8.7% of the remaining 11% belongs to the UMB Beteiligungs-GmbH from the COPRO-Gruppe, the other 2.3% belonging to TST-Invest GmbH. At least €142.5 million are transferred as part of the sale to UMB Beteiligungs-GmbH and TST Invest GmbH. The payments are listed in the records of both companies’ balances in the Bundesanzeiger (Federal Gazette). (These facts come to light two years later).
November 16th, 2020
Second public viewing of the development plan, this time for the southern section.
January 18th, 2021
The second public viewing is repeated due to technical issues, for reasons unclear.
January 24th, 2021
Eleven citizen groups and one environmental organization submit a joint letter to the Stadtentwicklungsausschuss urban development committee, requesting permission to present their own assessment of the plan.
The Stadtentwicklungsamt announces during an urban development committee meeting that the committee’s review of the citizen groups’ critique of the development plan will be presented by mid-April.
April 14th, 2021
Citizen groups are invited to the urban development committee to give eleven presentations of their criticisms of the Urbane Mitte construction plans. The committee’s promise to respond to the critique never materializes. The eleven presentations in PDF format.
The Berlin land registry enquires with Urbane Mitte Besitz about the property value in order to assess tax on the sale. A lawyer acting on behalf of the investors informs the land registry that the market value of the property is €11.3 million.
The newly-elected city government coalition agreement between SPD, Greens, and Linke parties states the coalition’s intent to:
“Study if and to what extent the city planning contract with Urbane Mitte is in accordance with current environmental demands, whether local needs are met, and if modifications to the size and type of building construction are to be allowed.”
The Immobilienzeitung reports in an article titled “Urbane Mitte Project Making Progress” that plans for Urbane Mitte have supposedly been re-worked to including rooftop greening as an answer to the problem of capturing rainwater. The percentage of office space to other use is to be reduced from 70% to 50 – 60%. The development plan is scheduled to be approved in the 3rd quarter of 2022.
The urban development committee discusses the outstanding review necessary for the development plan to proceed. Changes have been made to the plan so that a further public viewing is needed, scheduled to take place in the fall of 2022.
At the invitation of the interest group Aktionsgemeinschaft Gleisdreieck e.V., speakers from the Green, SPD, and Linke local district parties attend discussions at the fence of the Urbane Mitte construction site. Each speaker is asked how their respective party has responded to the coalition’s stated intent to review the building project. Each party responds that the review is not yet finished. Both Green and Linke speakers come out in opposition to Urbane Mitte. The SPD approves the project going forward, but as housing for students instead of office space.
October 22nd, 2022
Berliner Zeitung publishes a long article on plans for Gleisdreieck Park, revealing for the first time the share deal sale of Urbane Mitte to a Luxembourg entity two years prior.
October 30th, 2022
Tagesspiegel newspaper reports that the review by the city Senate of the size and type of building construction planned, as stated in the government coalition agreement of 2021, has apparently already taken place in April 2022. The Senate administration sticks with a gross floor area of 119,00 m², as supposedly promised to investors.