The lower half of the historical neighbourhood of Friedrichstadt, from Checkpoint Charlie in the north to Hallesches Tor in the south, is a very heterogeneous urban area. Although it belongs to Kreuzberg, it's often perceived as part of Mitte, certainly in part thanks to the countless modern, high-cost buildings found north of Franz-Klühs-Straße. South of this line are mostly residential buildings hovering over Mehringplatz, the majority of which were planned as social housing in the late 1960s. As for the residential and commercial situation, half of the square is in the hands of the public housing corporation Gewobag, and the shops on the east side are busy, while the KMAntenne youth centre, the Gewobag's neighbourhood parlour and the neighbourhood management remain important contact points, responding to the neighbourhood's challenges with specific offers for its residents of all ages. For a long time, the west side was owned privately, and small businesses were closing down one by one. In view of the terrible structural neglect, the tenants' initiative Mehringplatz West was founded, its members voicing their concerns with protests and discussions. Since the beginning of February, the west side has been owned by another public housing company, HOWOGE. Mehringplatz has often been stigmatised in the media as a deprived area without naming its structural problems. More than 5,000 residents live here. Burdening people's everyday lives are the construction site, which has been going on for ten years, littering and drug-related crime. Nevertheless, Mehringplatz is a lively urban area, and many residents and initiatives are committed to making their neighbourhood liveable despite the difficult circumstances.
Stella: We want today's conversation with you to open up some insight on how we want to live and work together around Mehringplatz in the future. Keywords: Infrastructure, right to the city, housing situation, youth and culture. What are our visions for Mehringplatz? What positive developments do we want? And how can we support each other?
Volkan: Let's just pretend that today is 5 May 2031, and that almost everything you've been working towards to improve the situation at Mehringplatz has been realised. What does Mehringplatz look like now? What shops, cultural activities and meeting points are there?
Mareike: I would like to see Friedrichstraße 1 through 3, the complex where the KMA is located, renovated in the next four years and the Kurt Schumacher School completed. I would also like to see the planned new buildings on the AOK car park completed in 2031, so that young adults have the chance to move out of their cramped living environment and still stay in the neighbourhood, close to their families. Especially when you live under rather precarious conditions, you need a strong network. We are the neighbourhood with the most children in the entirety of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, but there are no paediatricians, no speech therapists, no occupational therapists, no child and youth psychologists. I would like to see a centre where young parents can find all these services. Short distances – I think that is very important in our neighbourhood.
Hendrikje: There should be a flower shop again. But if you don't have money, you don't buy flowers. What I really wish is that the young people who now meet in groups outside, dealing and brawling, all have a job and earn money so that they don't have to deal any more. As far as the AOK car park is concerned, I have a different focus from Mareike. I have something in mind for people who are looking for larger flats. At most, there are currently only three-room flats here, and that's simply not enough for families with four or more children. And there has to be a better sense of community. Unfortunately, the communities are very segregated: Turkish, Arab, Kurdish, Spanish, Eastern European and German. The neighbourhood management has been trying to change this for many years, but it just doesn't work.