Speculation in kreuzberg: investor in a circle of chairs

A buyer of two Kreuzberg houses meets the tenants. They hope that the district will exercise its right of first refusal.

Life is still quiet in Cuvrystrasse 44/45 Photo: facebook.com/Cuvry44.45bleibt

In the brightly colored room of the neighborhood center Wrangelkiez, 30 people sit together in a circle of chairs on Wednesday evening. For more than half of them, their future in the Kreuzberg neighborhood is at stake. They live in the houses at Cuvrystrabe , four-story buildings from the post-war period that have nothing to do with the posh Grunderzeit buildings elsewhere in the district.

The tenants, too, are more corner pub than latte macchiato cafe crowd. Also gathered: Representatives of the district, neighborhood initiatives and the real estate agent David Borck, the buyer of the two houses.

Borck, a stocky man in his mid-forties, a comprehensive school teacher with a Ku’damm wristwatch, is here on hostile territory. He has brought with him two "good friends," as they say in the introductions, who can safely be described as bodyguards. Borck wants to transfer 1.9 million euros to the previous owner, who inherited the buildings from her brother, who died in November. Now he wants to "solicit trust," as he says.

He has contractually assured the seller that he will refrain from expensive modernizations – installation of elevators, thermal insulation, additional balconies – and conversion into condominiums for a period of ten years. "I have no intention of displacing anyone," Borck says. Whether the promise will hold is questionable: Borck wants to install a heating system and renovate the electrical system and facade. Rents, some of which are dirt cheap, could double.

District wants longer protection

Its offer only goes beyond the legal obligations in certain points, such as the conversion ban of seven years. And it falls well short of the district’s demand. The district wants Borck to commit to the goals of milieu protection for 20 years. A corresponding agreement was presented to Borck. If he does not sign it – as announced – the district can use its right of first refusal until October 8 and acquire the houses for a housing association or the tenants, who already have a foundation in hand.

It’s not an automatic process, explains Aaron Schaar, district preemption officer. Instead, he says, it must be shown why Borck’s ten-year offer would not serve the public interest; exercising the right of first refusal is a "discretionary decision."

Acting on that may have been Borck’s incentive to turn himself in. Successful? "You haven’t put my worries to rest," said one resident in the closing session. "My wish is that the foundation takes over our house and we can live here in peace." Longer than ten years.

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