#171: Strike over, Thaipark moving, crime up
Public social housing weirdly making flats more expensive
Hey 20 Percent!
I’ll keep this brief — I was awoken this morning at 6am by the sound of dripping in my wall. My groggy brain thought it was a spring shower but the wife and I quickly realized it was something more sinister — and the hissing sound behind the wall in the bathroom above confirmed it. A broken pipe.
If you think bureaucrats are bad, try convincing an overworked plumber to take your emergency seriously at 7am. They just mumble “maybe” and then something about showering at your gym. Have you ever seen me? If you have, it’s obvious I haven’t had a gym membership in over a decade.
We’ll see how this plays out.
But it’s sunny now and the forecast calls for 20 degrees this weekend — I may be bathing in a lake.
Have a good weekend!
Our water may be off but our power’s on, at least in part because we get it from exceptional 20 Percent Berlin sponsor Ostrom. Maybe you should too (more info at the bottom). And if you’d like to help me pay my plumbers, you can donate over on our Patreon. We appreciate it. You can also buy a mug!
The strike that was
It’s over now: Train employee union EVG struck Deutsche Bahn from 3am to 11am, halting the S-Bahn in Berlin as well as regional and high-speed trains throughout Germany. Timetables aren’t expected to return to normal until later today. BVG wasn’t on strike, so hopefully you got to work OK, or took advantage of the good weather to cycle.
The skyscraper that isn’t
Berlin has fined real estate investor Monarch €5 million for failing to build a 35-story skyscraper adjacent to the main entrance of the eyesore that is Alexa mall, according to RBB24. The construction pit has shown little progress over the past year, while blocking pedestrian, bike and car traffic, and the investor’s attorney has finally admitted that the project can’t progress because of sanctions laid on Russia-based businesses — Monarch is the Moscow-based investment vehicle of Armenian financier Sergey Ambartsumyan. Monarch is now looking for a co-investor not subject to sanctions to complete the project. Meanwhile, Berlin financial chief Daniel Wesener (Grüne) has said the city-state may exercise its right to forcibly buy back the property because of inaction — the construction is supposed be at the 13th floor already. Planned are 377 apartments over 42,000 square meters.
The streetfood market that soon won’t be
The popular Thai streetfood market in Preussenpark near Fehrbelliner Platz will likely soon be forced to leave the park as a new district council takes over in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, according to Tagesspiegel. Facebook invites and Instagram posts made the small neighborhood market a popular Berlin attraction, irking neighbors who then had to deal with piles of trash and the loss of a popular playing field. Attempts to create better infrastructure and make the market more permanent have born little fruit — it’s unclear where the district’s new council composed of the conservative CDU and environmental Greens hopes to relocate the market, which gave the park the nickname ‘Thaipark’.
The apartments that aren’t
The number of apartments available to the middle class has slipped by a third over the past decade as Berlin’s public housing subsidies have failed to keep up with rising construction and property costs. About 75,000 were put on the market in 2012, according to RBB, at €7.90 per square meter per month, the amount it says an average middle class earner could finance. The number fell to 50,000 last year, priced at €12.40/sqm, the amount the middle class can now apparently afford. Commercial landlords who rent out 30% of a building as social housing receive construction subsidies for the flats of €6.60/sqm. But actual construction is only viable at about €12/sqm so landlords have to raise the rent on the remaining 70% to recoup their costs, making fewer flats affordable (defined as up to 40% of net income). The Hauptstadt wants to up the subsidies.
Crime frequency, the number of crimes committed per 100,000 residents, jumped 7.4% last year over 2021 to 14,135 cases, about level with 2018 but below 2015, when crime was at record levels, according to the Berliner Polizei. The worst news: Bike thefts rose 13% last year. The only crimes to have dropped last year were online offenses, down by a quarter, which the fuzz says is because we’re out and about again after corona.
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