24. April 2017–
In November, Google announced plans to open their own campus in Berlin after seeing high engagement at the Factory in Berlin.
The new startup central, all 2,400 square meters, would be located in a historic electric power distribution station on Ohlauer Strasse in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district. If all goes well the Google Entrepreneurship Program campus would be one of seven locations open worldwide. Other locations include London, Warsaw, Madrid, Sao Paulo, Seoul and Tel Aviv.
But local Berlin politics are interfering with the tech company’s plans: The Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district office recently rejected Google’s construction permit, the newspaper Neues Deutschland reported.
The district office based their rejection on emission control, meaning the safeguarding the effect of such a campus on humans and the environment, as well as the structural density of Google’s plans.
“The Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district worries that, among other things, the neighborhood would face excessive noise pollution due to events held at the space,” Julian Schwarze, President of the Green Party’s District Ordinance, told the newspaper.
Another speed bump is Google’s plans to add another story into the historic building, which “would exceed the building’s total surface area allotment” Schwarze says.
This means that Google needs to revise their current plans. The company is working closely with the relevant offices and authorities to “not only preserve the historical characteristics of the building, but also highlight the project and its surroundings,” Google spokesman Ralf Bremer says.
The authorities decision to reject Google’s building application was, however, well-received by some living in Kreuzberg. In recent weeks an Anti-Google Initiative opposed to gentrification sprouted up and is openly criticizing Google’s plans.
“It will become even more hip for the phone-crazy, unrestrained disruption-focused youths of the new economy to live here in Kreuzberg,” says Magnus Hengge, who is active in the Bizim Kiez Initiative that opposes gentrification.
Bizim Kiez is also opposed to the German fashion retailer Zalando’s plans to build 34,000 square meters of office space in the Cuvry area, which is also situated in Kreuzberg.
Zalando and Google “want take over everything,” Hengge criticizes. “But we don’t want to put the decision power into the hands of strategists without local ties and we will resist.”