Artists squatting in Berlin’s Tacheles building, a former department store that had become a tourist attraction, were evicted by the banks that control the site in the city’s fashionable Mitte district.
Dozens of police officers stood guard today as bailiffs seized the property on behalf of lenders with claims on the site including HSH Nordbank AG. Tacheles, in former communist East Berlin, was taken over by squatters in 1990, when Germany was reunified. The building had been slated for demolition.
“There is no point in fighting this any longer,” said Martin Reiter, a spokesman for the artists, adding that there had been 14 previous eviction attempts. “All the legal avenues have been exhausted.”
Squats, once common in Berlin, have become rare as landlords seek to profit from a property boom. Home prices in Berlin have jumped 31 percent in the past five years, Berlin- based online broker Immobilienscout estimates. Tacheles could sell for about 40 million euros ($50 million), said Hanns- Joachim Fredrich, head of Cushman & Wakefield Inc.’s Berlin unit.
A spokesman for Hamburg-based HSH Nordbank declined to comment.
“This is the most interesting development spot left in Mitte,” Fredrich said. The property, standing on a site about three times the size of the one occupied by New York’s Empire State Building, may be demolished to make room for restaurants, stores and apartments that sell for as much as 10,000 euros per square meter, he said.
“Twenty years ago, nobody knew what a hotspot that area would become,” Fredrich said.
With its facade covered in graffiti, posters and soot, Tacheles stands out on a street lined with renovated pre-war buildings and new developments. Today, about 40 artists and activists milled outside the building while the bailiff ordered the remaining squatters to leave.
About 500,000 tourists pass through the building each year, Reiter said. The attractions include ground-floor galleries containing sculptures made of scrap metal and other art works.
“Tacheles was a victim of its own success,” Reiter said. “If Tacheles hadn’t become famous all the way to Beijing, this neighborhood wouldn’t have become what it is.”
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