WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT BERLIN AFTER A DAY OF MEETUPS

Berlin is the fourth largest Meetup city in Europe and one of its fastest growing cities globally. Madhvi Ramani spent an entire day Meetup-hopping to gain a unique view into Berlin and its inhabitants.

It’s 8:30 a.m. and I’m riding the U-Bahn. It’s crowded – at least, as crowded as it gets in Berlin. Everyone is able to hang on to a few inches of personal space as well as their dignity. Still, their rush hour demeanours are familiar: harassed, grim, preoccupied with smart phones and tablets.

I feel smug in my yoga pants, because my day promises to be anything but monotonous. I’ve signed up to an entire day of Meetups – events organised via the social networking website that brings people with similar interests together.

Since the site’s 2002 launch in New York, Meetups can be found all over the globe – but for some reason, Berlin is one of its fastest growing cities. Since its first Meetup was mooted in 2008, it has become the fourth largest city in Europe. What does that say about the city? I’m here to find out.

( . . . )

This, the React Native Meetup is the biggest I’ve been to all day, with almost 300 attendees. Tech Meetups are a popular way for developers and designers to network, and are heavily linked to the city’s burgeoning start-up culture, of which Zalando is one of the major successes. Nearly 30 per cent of all Berlin Meetups are now tech-related.

Officially we’re here to listen some presentations about using React Native, an open-source JavaScript library. Most attendees, however, seem more interested in the boxes of free pizza that are up for grabs. I cram slice after slice into my mouth as my neighbour says that the pizza provided by the Meetups of Berlin-based online bank N26 is better. Some people, it seems, are here with a single agenda – and I might be one of them, as I notice the curiosity and openness I started my day with are gone. As the speaker from Soundcloud begins to talk about using the framework for app prototyping, I lose interest and wander off to the loo.

. . .

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Germany Is Building a Wall to Protect the Berlin Wall

An effort to limit damage done to the Cold War landmark by tourists.

Souvenier-seeking tourists have done serious damage to the Berlin Wall, leaving Germany with no choice: A wall in front of the wall will be erected in summer 2018, to protect the landmark structure from further vandalism, reports the Art Newspaper.

This isn’t the first time the idea of a protective barrier in front of the Berlin Wall has been raised. In November 2015, authorities of Berlin’s Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district, home to the “East Side Gallery” section of the wall, which is covered in murals created in 1990, announced plans to erect a permanent protective fence.

The wall, a designated heritage site, was erected in 1961, dividing citizens of West Berlin from the rest of the city and the surrounding East Germany until November 9, 1989. The wall began coming down in June 1990, but parts of the structure were left intact as a monument.

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Look out, London. Berlin’s startup scene is ready for a Brexit bonanza

Startups that previously looked to London are being wooed by Berlin’s fast-developing scene. But can Germany capitalise on Brexit uncertainty?

At a co-working space on Friedrichstraße, Berlin’s startup economy is getting ready for Brexit. Mindspace’s first location in Germany, opened in April 2016, sits in the heart of Berlin’s Mitte district, flanked by high-end fashion shops and perfumeries. Its walls are adorned with hand-stencilled signs directing people, in English, to the “yummy kitchen” and “awesome offices”. It feels exactly like the startup scene in London – and that’s deliberate. What London stands to lose after Brexit, Berlin hopes to gain.

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“Berlin is starting to be considered as a startup ecosystem, particularly targeting the tech startup scene,” says Nijvenko. The company’s “official language”, she explains, is English. All signs, documents and posts on the community’s private Facebook group are auf Englisch. Its co-working spaces bare an uncanny resemblance to a template Silicon Valley, faux-hipster style – superfluous clocks; plush, well-worn armchairs; Communist-era televisions; and work from local artists adorn almost every remaining inch of space. Around 760 members pay between €250 and €450 per month (£215 and £390) to use the space, with the two additional sites in Berlin upping capacity to more than 2,000 people. Business is booming. “The political incentives right now are targeting the startup ecosystem. Berlin is very affordable, so for startups it’s the best place to be,” says Nijvenko.

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What Is This Mysterious Bedroom Doing In Berlin’s Subway Tunnels?

Employees of Berlin’s public transport company BVG got a creepy surprise last week, when they discovered a fully-furnished bedroom in an unused section of U-Bahn tunnel. The bedroom was tidy and well looked-after, but the BVG claims that it wasn’t lived in.

These photos, sent anonymously to the Berliner Zeitung news site, may be part of an art project, a political statement, or a prank. The room, on the Berlin Metro’s line 9, is furnished with an Ikea bed, a potted plant (recently-watered), an easy chair, and even a TV, wallpaper, and art. The room, says Berliner Zeitung’s Antje Kara, seems to have a 1980s office vibe to it, although it’s more of a Communist-era East German 1980s vibe than the garish, neon-colored 1980s us Westerners experienced.

Employees of Berlin’s public transport company BVG got a creepy surprise last week, when they discovered a fully-furnished bedroom in an unused section of U-Bahn tunnel. The bedroom was tidy and well looked-after, but the BVG claims that it wasn’t lived in.

These photos, sent anonymously to the Berliner Zeitung news site, may be part of an art project, a political statement, or a prank. The room, on the Berlin Metro’s line 9, is furnished with an Ikea bed, a potted plant (recently-watered), an easy chair, and even a TV, wallpaper, and art. The room, says Berliner Zeitung’s Antje Kara, seems to have a 1980s office vibe to it, although it’s more of a Communist-era East German 1980s vibe than the garish, neon-colored 1980s us Westerners experienced.

The buzz around the prank is focusing on who did it, and how, complete with complaints that Berlin’s metro security has failed. The who may remain a mystery, but the how is easy. Taking your Ikea flatpack furniture home on public transport is totally normal in Berlin. Nobody would pay you any attention. And looking at the photos, it seems that the bedroom is in a part of the underground system away from the actual train tunnels, meaning nobody had to jump off a platform and disappear into a tunnel with a heavy CRT TV set.

By secret underground construction standards, this bedroom is small fry. In the summer of 2004, police in Paris discovered a clandestine cinema hidden in the city’s extensive catacombs while running a training exercise. The 3,000-square-foot subterranean complex was “strung with lights, wired for phones, [and] live with pirated electricity.”

The underground bedroom is still pretty creepy, though. Unless you’re one of Berlin’s homeless, trying to survive the Northern European winter. Then it might seem pretty appealing.

Source – http://www.fastcoexist.com/3056801/what-is-this-mysterious-bedroom-doing-in-berlins-subway-tunnels

Real Estate in Germany Growing as Wave of Mergers and Acquisitions Rise

German real estate is seeing a wave of mergers and acquisitions rise with low interest rates offering investors an open window for growth.

Mergers and acquisitions are on the rise in Germany’s real estate segment as industry players look to capitalize on low interest rates and a virtual standstill in property prices. Unlike neighboring countries who are experiencing unsteady growth rates. In a report by Gulf News, Vonivia, the top dog of real estate joined the fray and revealed plans of offering €14 billion or $16 billion for its nemesis Deutsche Wohnen after its failed bid to acquire LEG Immobilien.

Spain Remains Top European Property Investment Target, Germany Second

According to Knight Frank, active investors see Spain as the top investment target in Europe, with Germany following close behind in 2015.

Knight Frank’s recent European poll showed 27% of over 150 investors identified Spain as their preferred investment target for next year, clearly indicating the strength of its recent recovery with values still well below their previous peak.

Humphrey White, Head of Capital Markets at Knight Frank Spain, comments “The fundamental rationale behind investing in Spain is even stronger than this time last year. Prime CBD office rents have risen by 20% over the past 12 months, but remain nearly 40% below the 2008 peak, and both footfall and sales have been increasing in dominant shopping centres for six consecutive quarters.”

Over a quarter (25.4%) of attendees chose Germany as their preferred target.  Results mirror the buoyant investment activity seen in the country, with a total of €30 billion invested in property during H1 2015, an increase of 35% compared to H1 2014.

Joachim von Radecke, Head of German Desk at Knight Frank in London, comments “The increase is driven by the rising flow of foreign capital into the country and the 50% increase of domestic investor activity.  Foreign investors’ share of the German market continues to grow, and now accounts for almost 60% of all transactions in H1 2015.

“We saw the usual trend towards the “big five” markets – Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg and Düsseldorf, with 78% of total office transactions recorded in these cities.”

The UK again featured strongly in this year’s poll, attracting 17.4% of the votes, on the back of the continuing recovery which has now extended to the UK regions.

Chris Bell, Managing Director of Europe at Knight Frank, comments, “The UK is well ahead of the rest of Europe in terms of the property cycle and has already seen significant yield compression.  However, it is encouraging that rental growth is beginning to re-emerge more widely across Europe, helped by the strengthening of occupier demand and the steadily falling availability of good quality space exacerbated by the lack of development over the preceding recessionary years.”

– See more at: http://www.worldpropertyjournal.com/real-estate-news/spain/madrid/european-property-investor-data-2015-spain-real-estate-investments-made-2015-germany-property-investments-international-property-investors-humphrey-white-joachim-von-radecke-9376.php#sthash.uUr0nG4v.dpuf

 

See more at: http://www.worldpropertyjournal.com/real-estate-news/spain/madrid/european-property-investor-data-2015-spain-real-estate-investments-made-2015-germany-property-investments-international-property-investors-humphrey-white-joachim-von-radecke-9376.php#sthash.uUr0nG4v.dpuf

Apartment Construction Market Thrives in Berlin

The BUWOG Group, a German-Austrian residential property developer, recently held a topping-out ceremony for its new Uferkrone apartment community in Berlin-Köpenick.

The project comprises a mix of 198 new residential units across 12 buildings located just minutes from Köpenick’s historic old town center at the confluence of rivers Dahme and Spree.

The new community, built on a site of about 207,000 square feet (19,200 square meters), will offer living concepts that cater to a variety of lifestyles—from house-in-house concepts perfect for families, to garden apartments, units with a view of the river Spree, and penthouse apartments. Upon completion, all of these buildings will meet the energy standard KfW 70.

Construction on the project’s initial phase will be complete by next spring. So far, about 65 percent of the units included in the first batch are under contract. The new two- to five-room apartments range from about 538 square feet (50 square meters) to more than 2,150 square feet (200 square meters). Purchase prices average about $371 per square foot (or 3,600 euros per square meter). As for the second phase of construction, more than a third of the apartments have already been sold or reserved.

“With ‘Uferkrone,’ new apartments are being created that the city of Berlin needs. The district of Treptow-Köpenick is a great example of Berlin’s impressive growth, offers an ideal infrastructure and a very high quality of life,” said Alexander Happ, head of Development Germany at the BUWOG Group.

BUWOG Group holds about 5,000 existing apartments in Berlin. The company is currently building several other projects in the capital city. Its total development pipeline here comprises approximately 1,700 residential units, with an investment volume of around $580 million (EUR 530 million). Meanwhile, three other projects in Pankow and Lichtenberg are on the drawing board.

(source – http://www.multihousingnews.com/news/apartment-construction-market-thrives-in-berlin/1004124661.html)

The Secrets of Soho House Berlin: Lessons in Colorful Real Estate

In the five years since its 2010 opening, Berlin’s iteration of Soho House has become a major Central European roadhouse. The signature loungy-luxe details honed by Soho House founder Nick Jones, 52, since he opened his first Soho House in 1995—in Berlin’s case, the tidy little roof pool, the fireplace with its art-directed logs, the Vegas-style couches and day beds for extra-louche group lounging—all conspire mischievously to imply that the authorities, such as your momma, your significant other, or, in a celebrity’s case, a howling pack of street-dog paparazzi would have a really hard time finding you enjoying the place with whomever you choose.

This is a very profitable and fantastically marketable lodging idea. Although the traditions of it hark back to the 12th century Knights Templar and the London guilds and clubs, its authors in the late 20th century in the U.S. are the disco-magnate-turned-hotelier Ian Schrager (Morgans) and the dater-of-Uma-Thurman Andre Balasz (The Mercer, The Standard). In this market, Mr. Jones, of the UK, is a relative latecomer. (read more here…)

IREIT Global buys Berlin property for S$217.7m; undertakes rights issue to fund deal

Singapore-listed IREIT Global Tuesday said that it had reached a deal to acquire a property in Berlin for 144.2 million euros (S$217.7 million), marking its first acquisition since its initial public offering.

The property is located in the district of Lichtenberg, and the company said this place had been witnessing a strong growth of both commercial office development and occupancy demand.

The property comprises two fully connected building sections of 8 storeys and 13 storeys, respectively, the company said in a statement.

It is located six kilometres east of Berlin’s city centre and near the Media Spree area, which is popular with internet, media and technology companies.

IREIT said it was was attracted to this property due to the strong principal tenant – Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund –  a federal pension fund and the largest of the 16 federal pension institutions in Germany, and the opportunity for rental and value growth in this increasingly popular location. The principal tenant DRB occupies 98.8% of this property’s total lettable area on a lease expiring in June 2024 and contributes 99.6% to its gross rental income.

Choo Boon Poh, Chief Financial Officer of IREIT said, “As part of our strategy, we intend to fund the acquisition through a mix of equity and debt. IREIT has announced a rights issue to raise gross proceeds of approximately S$88.7 million. The balance of the funding for the acquisition will be through a bank loan facility, from which it intends to draw down a gross amount of approximately €102.0 million.”

With this acquisition, IREIT’s total portfolio value will increase significantly to €438.0 million (S$661.4 million) from €290.6 million (S$438.8 million).

Regarding its renounceable rights issue, it will offer 189.6 million new units at 46.8 cents, and shareholders will be entitled to subscribe to 45 rights shares for each 100 shares held.

Tong Jinquan, Lim Chap Huat and IREIT Global Management who own a total of about 76.5% of the existing units have demonstrated their commitments by subscribing to their allotment of rights units, the company said.

The REIT closed 0.5 cent higher at 80.5 cents on Monday.

As of 31 March 2015, IREIT Global’s portfolio comprises four freehold properties in Germany valued at approximately €290.6 million (S$438.8 milion). The four properties are located in the key German cities of Bonn, Darmstadt, Münster and Munich with net lettable area of about 121,506 sqm and 2,945 car park spaces.

(source – http://www.dealstreetasia.com/stories/ireit-global-buys-berlin-property-for-s217-7m-undertakes-rights-issue-to-fund-deal-8502/)

Berlin roars up ‘best city’ rankings

Hamburg, Munich and Berlin all appeared in the 25 most liveable places on the planet in elite magazine Monocle’s 2015 rankings. Berlin shot further up the charts for the second year running.

While Hamburg and Munich slipped back one place each to 21 and 9 respectively, Berlin once again rocketed up the charts to come in as the 3rd most liveable city in the world.

But the strong German showing put it in a class with Japan as the only two countries to have three cities in the top 25 – considerably better than the 0 scored by the United Kingdom and the one entry at the bottom of the rankings for the United States.

Monocle’s annual Quality of Life survey ranks cities around the globe according to factors including climate, architecture, crime rate, environmental issues, food and drink, business and design.

While some of the data is scientific, other measures are more subjective and the magazine’s editor in chief Tyler Brûlé said on Thursday the judges employed a change in the metrics in 2015 which included how much influence the state has over everyday life in different countries.

“We’ve given extra marks to cities that limit their nannying and we’ve tried to give value to places where there’s something else we know is vital: freedom, grit, independence, a joy with life,” he was quoted as saying by the website Skift.

“We’re frustrated with city councils that are too quick to say no, places where parents never let their children run free and capitals that seem opposed to the odd late night out.”

(Read more here – http://www.thelocal.de/20150612/berlin-roars-up-best-city-rankings)