( dpa )- First it was Potsdamer Platz which was redeveloped, after the communist Berlin Wall was cleared off it.
Now, it is the turn of the heart of former West Berlin, near the war-ruined Memorial Church and Zoo Railway Station, to attract international investors.
Abu Dhabi and other emirates investors plan to plough millions of euros into a major revamp of what used to be the central business district of West Berlin in the bad old days of division.
Architects are planning a spate of new buildings around the Zoo Station and the high-rise Europa Centre shop and office complex nearby, and along a shopping stretch near the modern, blue-glazed Memorial Church.
As it is, Berlin's skyline is already set to change dramatically with construction later this year of a spectacular 120-million-euro (175-million-dollar) Giant Wheel, Europe's biggest Ferris wheel.
Although long-distance trains no longer halt at the Zoo station - they stop instead at the capital's new Hauptbahnhof station - a scheme to modernize the run-down station complex and other buildings in the vicinity is now programmed.
The Harvest investment group from the United Arab Emirates will be spending up to 200 million euros on a development, the Zoo Fenster , across the way from the Memorial Church.
The church, a popular stop with tourists, is a Lutheran church shattered during the Second World War onslaught on Berlin and rebuilt incorporating some of the ruins as a dark reminder of the evils of war.
The church is in the headlines, with campaigners seeking to raise 3.5 million euros for urgent repairs to its crumbling tower. Berlin's city government has promised 1.5 million euros towards the bill.
The high point of the Zoo Fenster project will be a 120-meter-high skyscraper. A premium hotel is also planned by 2010.
Important Abu Dhabi investors involved in the project predict a dramatic increase in commercial property values in the western downtown districts of Charlottenburg and Wilmersdorf in the coming years.
In a separate development, there are plans for the city's Schimmelpfeng Haus , a building built over the Kantstrasse , to be replaced by a 120-metre-high hotel, office and business complex, a brainchild of Casia Property Management
All told, an estimated 1 billion euros is being spent on the "City West" renewal project, including 300 million euros devoted to projects around the Zoo Bogen building estate.
As part of the revamp operations, the Budapester Strasse traffic tunnel near the city's Breitscheid Platz has been filled in, repaved and plastered, giving visitors easier access to the city's familiar high-rise Europa Centre shopping-residential complex.
It is here that Europa Centre operator Christian Pepper has spent 60 million euros modernizing the popular shopping haunt.
Investor interest close to the Kurfuerstendamm , Berlin's most prestigious shopping strip, is helping boost business confidence throughout the city's central Charlottenburg and Wilmersdorf districts.
For a period after the city's 1989 reunification, the Kurfuerstendamm appeared set to lose out, as a host of cinemas, theatres and restaurants went out of business.
The Kurfuerstendamm - Kudamm for short - still glittered at night but much of its old flavour and tang had dimmed in the 1990s, as talk focussed on the east with the reinvented Potsdamer Platz , the new Friedrichstrasse shopping malls, and the revival of the communist-era hub, Alexander Platz .
Now, that is less the case. The Kudamm has recovered much of its old glamour and assertiveness in the past three years, as new high-end shops open and its pavement cafes, restaurants and pubs win renewed popularity.
"The Kudamm is very much back in the frame, popular with Berliners and foreigners alike," say Berlin's mayor Klaus Wowereit , who now lives in an apartment overlooking the boulevard.
One way to participate in this development is through Investment Apartments in the districts of Charlottenburg and Wilmerdorf. Currently there are offers in these areas available at:
By Ailish O'Hora
Wednesday March 12 2008
Dublin has slumped to the bottom of a list of 27 European cities in a new report which looks at property and investment prospects in 2008.
According to the report, from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and PricewaterhouseCoopers, more traditionally popular western European cities have lost ground on the list against the backdrop of economic woes in the US leading to higher risk and tighter credit.
The capital's property and investment prospects will suffer in 2008, according to the report, entitled Emerging Trends in Real Estate Europe 2008. It added that Dublin's office, hotel and retail sectors had the highest or second highest sell levels of the 27 markets this year.
The report also showed that investment prospects in Dublin reached a peak in 2006 and have been falling since.
Dublin dropped seven places to 27th in 2008 in terms of overall European investment and development while London experienced a dramatic slump to 15th place compared with second in 2007.
"Without question, Europe is facing a bumpier ride this year than the last few years," said Richard Rosan, president, ULI Worldwide.
"The findings in Emerging Trends show how markets in Europe have become more globally connected and more vulnerable to economic shifts occurring in other parts of the world. "However, the fact that many respondents remain confident about European markets points to the still-local nature of real estate.
"We are seeing a lot of guarded optimism."
The top end of the league also had its surprises. Moscow made an impressive leap in the survey to top of the league in 2008 compared with 19th place last year based on high rental growth and the opportunities retail offers.
The report states that while Moscow is seen as a challenging city with market entry more difficult than other countries, its investment prospects are likely to remain high.
Istanbul ranked second while Hamburg and Munich held the third and fourth spots as top investment markets.
Paris, which held the top investment rating in the past years, slipped slightly, taking fifth place for investment prospects and sixth for development prospects.
An improvement in Germany's economy is reflected in the inclusion of four German cities -- Hamburg, Munich, Berlin and Frankfurt -- on the list of top 10 investments.
"Despite all the turbulence in the international markets, the Germany property market is still on the upturn," according to the report.
Other cities listed as strong "buy" markets included Paris, Lyon, Stockholm and Helsinki while Prague and Warsaw have been listed as development prospects.
- Ailish O'Hora