In the long-standing legal dispute over the sports and recreation center in Friedrichhain, the state of Berlin has won a victory. In an appeal, the Court of Appeal overturned a 2018 district court ruling and now sentenced the private owner Rainer Löhnitz to hand over the property for a fee of one euro.
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In 2003, the state had sold the dilapidated fun pool to Löhnitz for the same price, with the stipulation that it be renovated and continue to operate as a sports and recreation center. When Löhnitz only opened a pool for sauna guests instead of the expected new fun pool, there was sharp criticism.
However, the Senate defended the sale for years and only changed its mind in 2016. In the meantime, the almost five hectare property was worth a two-digit million amount and was to be mostly built on with 600 apartments. However, the district, the Senate and the private owner could not agree on the plans.
The Court of Appeal sentenced Löhnitz to “unencumbered transfer of ownership” and to “cancellation of registered land charges”. In a lawsuit against the state, Löhnitz had previously demanded the waiver of a contractually fixed repurchase right and the cancellation of a priority notice.
The district court agreed in 2018 – for a payment of almost one million euros. Löhnitz appealed against this, but so did the state of Berlin. The state demanded the rescission of the purchase contract and now prevailed in the second instance. However, Löhnitz considers the judges biased and accuses them of gross procedural errors. “I will hold the gentlemen accountable with all legal possibilities,” said Löhnitz on Friday.
The taxpayers’ association welcomed the verdict. “We first addressed the 1-euro deal in 2012 and also took it up in the Black Book 2012. But we didn’t think at the time that it would take exactly ten years,” said the association’s chairman, Alexander Kraus. He described the sale in 2014 as “a complete administrative failure or a case of corruption”. Löhnitz then sued Kraus for omission of his statements – the term “fun pool”, which does not appear in the purchase contract, was particularly controversial. However, Löhnitz was unable to assert himself in court.