Status: 25/09/2023, 18:24 p.m.
Quartier 207 on Friedrichstraße. © Sebastian Gollnow/dpa/Archivbild
Culture Senator Joe Chialo is enthusiastic about the idea of bringing the Central and State Library to Friedrichstraße. In the Committee on Culture, he had to face the critical questions of the political groups.
Berlin - From the point of view of Berlin's Senator for Culture Joe Chialo (CDU), Quartier 207 on Friedrichstraße is ideally suited as a future location for the Berlin Central and State Library (ZLB). According to an initial offer, the costs for the purchase of the building and the move in of the library amounted to around 589 million euros, Chialo said on Monday in the Culture Committee of the Berlin House of Representatives. At this level, the building owner, the US company Tishman Speyer, had submitted an initial purchase price offer. It is made up of the value of the land, the value of the building and the financing.
"I would like to emphasise that this offer also includes the costs for the structural preparation for the conversion of the house as a ZLB," said the Senator for Culture. It is a first offer that is still "completely unnegotiated". The determination of the purchase price of the offer is based on the acceptance of a sale.
A new location has been sought for the Central and State Library for years. The two locations at Blücherplatz and Breite Straße have become too small and are also in urgent need of renovation. In Chialo's view, Quartier 207 on Friedrichstrasse, which houses the Galeries Lafayette department store, among other things, is the most suitable. According to the owner, the lease for the French department store chain ends at the end of 2024.
In the Culture Committee, the invited experts all spoke in favour of the project. The director of the ZLB Foundation, Volker Heller, sees the advantage of the building conversion of Quartier 207 in that there is no need for an interim location. If the location at Blücherplatz were to be expanded - as had been discussed before - the ZLB location would have to close for years in the meantime and a new one would have to be found. According to Heller, realizing Berlin's Central Library sustainably and quickly for its citizens would also be a sign of the city's future viability.
Jonas Fansa, a researcher in the field of library management at Humboldt University, also emphasized how suitable Quartier 207 in Friedrichstraße is for the purposes of a library. The premises had a high density and offered a high degree of transparency in terms of the incidence of light into deep rooms and the accessibility of the rooms for visitors. Libraries need compact structures - which department stores offer architecturally, according to Fansa. The location in the urban space as well as the public transport connections also show how suitable Quartier 207 is as a new location for the ZLB.
In the Committee on Culture, most of the groups asked many questions, with mostly cautious approval of the idea. Most of the critical questions were made by the coalition partner SPD - for example, about the structural substance or offers from other actors. The CDU was positive. The left seemed enthusiastic about the idea.
The critical inquiries did not seem to upset the Senator for Culture. "It's a great idea that electrifies people and many questions have to be answered on the way to implementation," he told the German Press Agency afterwards. The bid review will continue until November, until a decision on the budget will be made in December.
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What will happen to Galeries Lafayette?
Galeries Lafayette's lease officially runs until the end of 2024. In the past, the company had announced that it was interested in remaining in Quartier 207 beyond 2024 and was in talks with the owner to do so. Tishman Speyer, on the other hand, had always emphasized that he did not want to extend the lease with Galeries Lafayette. "The decision for Galeries Lafayette to move out, that was conveyed to us concretely," Chialo told the committee. "Our actions have not contributed to the departure of Galeries Lafayette. That was already a done deal." Chialo does not know where the department store would move to. Galeries Lafayette and the U.S. company did not initially comment on Monday's request. Dpa