Cité Foch shopping center
Achtung! Cité Foch has been thoroughly destroyed and replaced by fancy apartments. The post below will hopefully help preserve memories of happier times.
The one that bucked the trend
The Cité Foch complex in Wittenau was built as a living area/settlement for French military personnel and their families from 1957. The French were in charge of the northern sector of West Berlin, the part served by Tegel airport.
The first building in the complex, for French gendarmes, was actually built in 1952 near Camp Foch. (Ferdinand Foch was a feted soldier from the First World War, not to be confused with the fox, Ferdinand Fuchs.)
The French were in charge of the northern sector of West Berlin, the part served by Tegel airport.
The Cité settlement was constructed in various stages on around 47 hectares of former industrial land, or cornfields, depending on who you want to believe.
It was initially called Cité Toucoulou after the brilliantly named Lt. Yves Tucoulou-Tachouères, the son of the chief of French forces in Germany. He was killed fighting in Indochina in 1948.
Perhaps because they misspelled Tucoulou-Tachouères’ name, Cité Toucoulou was renamed Cité Foch after the previously mentioned Ferdinand Foch – also a great name! – and so it remained. They were careful not to misspell Foch.
There were 785 apartments in 80 buildings, the Sainte Geneviève church, schools, a youth center, cinema, Kindergarten, swimming pool, sports facilities – and the shopping center with a cinema and leisure center, built in 1975.
Mauerfall spelled the end of the French mission in Berlin and so they moved home (or somewhere less expensive) in 1994, when Cité Foch came under the state’s jurisdiction. The state, being the state, did very little with it and left it until it was in, well, a state.
The Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s not-so-secret secret service, used one of the buildings across the road on Rue Montesquieu for a while.
It had been used by the French as a listening post like the Americans and British used Teufelsberg – West Berlin was all ears – but they had to move out when one of their spies mistakenly wrote BND on an envelope containing his shabby espionage report.
The jig was up – suddenly the postman knew who the characters trying to look shady and cool were – and so the BND moved out, though they were probably secretly delighted to have impressed the postman. (This may not have actually happened. I don’t know why the secret service moved out. I assume it’s a poorly kept secret.)
A Swiss property shark bought the shopping center in 1998 and it was rented out to various people, with Kaufland, fitness center Elixia and Aldi among other tenants, before arguments took their toll and they all moved out. It’s been abandoned since 2006. The investor went bust.
One of the investor’s creditors, the Frankfurt-based Hudson Advisors, bought the site in 2014 and set about recouping its investment through apartments. What else? This is Berlin. If it ain’t shopping centers, it’s apartments.
By April 2017, the quirky Cité Foch shopping center was already reduced to just a few mounds of rubble. C’est la vie.
LOCATION AND ACCESS (HOW TO FIND GUIDE)
- What: Cité Foch, a shopping center complex that bucked the trend as it was demolished at the same time as other shopping centers – or fucking “malls” as they like to be called now – are springing up like mushrooms around Berlin.
- Where: Avenue Charles de Gaulle 7-14, 13469 Berlin.
- How to get there: Waidmannslust S-Bahnhof is quite close, but it’s gone. You may as well stay home.
- Getting in: I’m sorry to say it’s too late.
- When to go: In the past.
- Difficulty rating: 10/10.
- Who to bring: Don’t bother.
- What to bring: Again, this one’s gone.
- Dangers: Regret.
Shopped till they dropped
It was the world’s slowest fast food restaurant. You’d be waiting a whopping great time for your burger at the abandoned Burger King on Prenzlauer Allee.
The Ardy ready-made meal factory evidently didn’t get the meals ready enough or it wouldn’t have gone bust. But bust it is, desperately in need of a dönor.
Shelves are cleared, tills and aisles empty. Even the shelves, tills and aisles are gone. There literally isn’t a sausage of the abandoned Kaiser’s left.