Senator Giffey uses ICC ruins to attract tourists

By Gunnar Schupelius

The Senate has been failing to renovate the convention center for nine years and now wants to offer the decay as an attraction. That seems a bit tasteless, says Gunnar Schupelius.

Economic Senator Franziska Giffey (SPD) is responsible for the “International Congress Center” (ICC), which has been empty for nine years.

Like all her predecessors, she has no plan to put the building back into operation. But she is now offering a special hit: she wants to open the ICC for the “Open Monument Day” on September 9th and 10th and thus attract visitors to Berlin. Motto: “48 h ICC”.

“A diverse supporting program for both private guests and representatives from the event industry is planned,” writes the senator in the announcement.

It’s certainly a nice idea, but it’s also embarrassing: why put a decaying building on display that should have been renovated long ago?

The ICC was a world-renowned convention center that was and is urgently needed. In 2004 the building was declared a renovation case. In 2014 it was closed for security reasons.

After that, the renovation failed because of the red-red-green Senate under Michael Müller (SPD), who neither wanted to restore the building on his own nor to privatize it. An investor was sought as a partner, but on terms that no investor would accept. So time went by.

We asked again, like we’ve been asking for nine years – and got an answer, like we’ve been getting for nine years:

The Senate “discussed the implementation of a concept procedure for the further development of the International Congress Center (ICC),” the spokesman for the Economics Senator told us. In this way, “a plausible operator and usage concept with sustainable financing” should be found.

It’s been like this for years: Ms. Giffey’s predecessor, Ramona Pop (Greens), organized an “interest procedure” for the ICC, then a “concept procedure” and founded a “steering committee”. Then she disappeared from the political stage.

Then came Stephan Schwarz (independent) as Economics Senator. He wanted to transform the ICC into a “place for art, culture and creativity”, into a “vibrant center for encounters”.

And now a “concept procedure” again. You feel fooled in two ways: First there have already been several of these procedures, which always cost a lot of money, but never ended with a usable result. Secondly the Senate is now selling the ICC ruins as a crowd puller. That seems strange to anyone who appreciates this building. To sum up: the government offers the symbol of its own incompetence as an attraction. It’s almost shameless.

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