Cold War icon Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin to leave Nama
Published 06/05/2015 | 02:30
Nama is close to selling the last of loans tied to Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin to a German developer.
The State bad bank is understood to be nearing an agreement to sell debt secured against two parcels of land at the location to Trockland Management for around €85m.
Checkpoint Charlie was famously the main gateway between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. In October 1961, US and Soviet Union tanks faced each other at the crossing during the Berlin Crisis.
The site has long been a symbol of the Cold War, but in recent years the area on Friederichstrasse has become a tourist attraction known mostly for souvenir shops and fast-food outlets.
Mayo developers Michael and Cathal Cannon are thought to have paid close to €30m for the debt eight years ago on the site after its previous owners went bust.
The brothers had planed to build over 100,000 sq ft of office and retail space on the site, which is one of the busiest thoroughfares in the German capital.
However, because of issues around the ownership of the site, the brothers never actually owned the property itself.
Instead they held a number of charges over Checkpoint Charlie, giving them de facto control of the property.
The Cannons then used that debt as security for other loans with AIB and ultimately ended up being transferred to Nama.
Trockland plans to build apartments, along with a hotel and some shops.
The deal will bring to an end any Irish interest in historic site, and pave the way for badly-needed development of the site.
Local business leaders have criticised the growth in fast food and souvenir shops around the Checkpoint Charlie property. They want something more sombre to be positioned to close to the checkpoint, which still holds huge resonance in the city.
The sale comes as Nama prepares to bring loans with a face value of €600m to the market
Project Arch, as the portfolio is known, will likely sell for a steep discount. The loans are secured against sites in Galway, Kilkenny and Dublin.
This is the latest portfolio to be brought to market by Nama, which has rapidly increased the scale of its assets sales.
The management agency is taking advantage of a rebound in the Irish property market.
A spokesman for Nama declined to comment.