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DIE WELT (Germany)

Worldcrunch

BERLIN - "Tear down this wall!" Ronald Reagan famously implored expand=1] in Berlin in 1987, challenging Mikhail Gorbachev to bring an end to the Cold War. Now, it appears, this was also the much quieter request of a luxury condominium developer.

The longest remaining portion of the Berlin Wall, stretching 1,316 meters (4,317.6 feet), and located in the borough of Friedrichshain, has been a protected monument of the Iron Curtain era. But now, this piece of history known as the East Side Gallery, is scheduled to be removed to make way for luxury apartments, German daily Die Welt reports.

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A portion of the East Side Gallery (b-hurwitz)

Wall segments were already removed a few years ago to create a marina and park. Now the removal of several more of the concrete slabs is to facilitate access to the Spree River which, borough mayor Franz Schulz said, is necessary for several reasons including the creation of an emergency exit for park visitors, and the rebuilding of the pedestrian bridge linking Friedrichshain to the borough of Kreuzberg which had been demolished by a bomb in 1945.

But according to Die Welt, irate citizens see another reason: the construction of a 63 meter (207 feet) high “luxury” apartment tower. In the words of one protester, removing slabs from “the longest still existing stretch of wall along the former ‘death strip’ ” would “definitively and irrevocably” destroy it. "I’m sorry they have this impression that removing slabs from the wall is related to the apartment house," Mayor Schulz said. "It is true that the building will border on the new access-way,” but he stressed that the path had been planned independently of the tower, and that there was no other alternative to link the new pedestrian bridge to Mühlenstrasse.

The 15-story "Living Levels" apartment tower designed by architects Sergei Tchoban and Ekkehard Voss is scheduled for completion by the end of 2014. The 36 apartments will be selling for €2,750 ($3,594) per square meter. The smallest units measure 62.85 square meters (676.5 square feet), the largest 173.2 m2 (1,864.3 square feet).

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