It's one of the most frequently visited attractions in Berlin: an iconic 0.8 mile stretch of what once was the Berlin Wall, now covered with over a hundred paintings by artists from around the world, the East Side Gallery is a piece of history and a globally significant communal piece of art. But developers want to tear it town in order to build a luxury apartment building -- and it looks like they're getting their way.
Development company Living Bauhaus plans to build a 200-foot tower of 36 apartments and offices on the lot currently occupied by the East Side Gallery. The company describes its new endeavor, dubbed Living Levels, as a "totally new dimension of life and living" offering "breathtaking panoramic views". On Wednesday, district mayor Franz Schulz confirmed to The Guardian that parts of the wall will have to be removed. "The investor has a legal right to demand this, so we'll have to do it," Schulz told the British newspaper.
There is widespread opposition to the plan. Petitions circulating on-line have reportedly received thousands of signatures. "The longest remaining part of the wall, on the former death strip, along with the public river bank would be completely and permanently destroyed," one petition reads.
"In this very place people died, and the idea of building luxury flats here would be like erecting a petrol station in front of one of Berlin's museums," Sascha Disselkamp, manager of the Sage nightclub and representative of several high-profile Berlin clubs that have taken a stand against the new development, told The Guardian on Wednesday.
"All the paintings have become a symbol of freedom in Berlin and Europe," French artist Thierry Noir, whose paintings are on the section of wall set to be torn down, said to The Guardian. "Unlike elsewhere in the city, where the majority of the wall has been removed, this is a unique opportunity to preserve a large section of what was once a death strip. If you remove the sections, you're destroying the authenticity of this place."