PoliticsWed, 16 Jul 2008 18:09h· by: carpeberlin

87% Sink Mediaspree Project


On Sunday 13th of july 2008 around 170,000 citizens from the boroughs Berlin Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg were asked to give their vote and decide on the future of the river banks between Elsen bridge and Jannowitz bridge. With a majority of 87%, the voters were against the massive construction plans showing a favourable outlook on the initiative Mediaspree Versenken (sink Mediaspree).
At 4pm the turnout was only 9,5%. Worries on the part of the electors council that the necessary 15% would not be reached, vanished at 6pm when 35,000 voters cast their ballots, meaning 19% of the inhabitants of the two boroughs voted.

The referendum one and a half years ago to rename a street in Mitte to Rudolf Dutschke Strasse, showed a similar development. Until four o clock only 10,9 % had shown up. Although the participation was rather weak, in this year’s referendum the necessary turn-out of 15% was met and overtaken.

The boroughs’ administration wants to follow the voters’ decision. The mayor of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Franz Schulz, backed the vote against Mediaspree. One question remains unanswered: how can the decision against the project Mediaspree be realised? Schulz is hoping that the Senate of Berlin will back up the movement against the project and is inviting the investors for talks to discuss the next steps.

However, the decision of the referendum is not legally binding. The investors are hoping for support from Berlin’s government and do not believe in a complete change of plans concerning the urban development. In the near future we might see the creation of a committee through which the representatives of Mediaspree Versenken and administrators of the borough Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg shall analyse options about the following through of the voters’ decision.

The three most important decisions implied by the vote are:
a)    The distance between the spree and the first construction should be at least fifty metres.
b)    No more skyscrapers shall be built on either side of the Spree.
c)    Only a pedestrian bridge across the River Spree shall be built.

The worries of the borough Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg are now concerning the millions of euros of damages that they might have to pay to the investors of the project Mediaspree. The head of the investor’s circle, Meyer, is expressing doubts about the vote in general and its ramifications, stressing that it will be unlikely for any investor to ignore their right to claim damages.

Rumours say that these may be as high as 150 million euros if the three above-mentioned points are not taken into consideration during the plausible construction on the quarter of a million square metres space. Nevertheless, the initiators of the referendum believe they will only have to pay a third of the predicted damages and hope to be able to reach an agreement with the investors.  

If the river banks of the spree in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg are transformed into fifteen times what Potsdamer Platz is today, if the planned investments of up to more than two billion euros go through, or if the urban waste land of the spree is transformed into a citizen-friendly use and the results of the vote are accomplished, is not yet clear.

We congratulate the setting up of the Mediaspree Versenken initiative and hope for a future collaboration amongst the inhabitants of the borough and the city’s development, and we are happy that for now the warm summer evenings and the sun sets at the Spree whether at the Yaam Club, at Bar 25, Oststrand, in Kiki Blofeld, in Maria or other alternative localities, will not be damaged.

We will stay on the ball and keep you up to date on the progression of these projects.