Over spring break, 13 Wisconsin Real Estate MBA Students traveled to Berlin, Germany for a four-day study tour into the economic and cultural dimensions of doing business in Europe’s third most visited city. During our visit, we met with brokers, developers, and money managers to gain first-hand insight into this ever-evolving nation’s capital. We also packed in some cultural highlights, including visiting a traditional German Beer Garden and a half-day walking tour.
Day 1: During our first day in Berlin, we enjoyed a half-day walking tour which began in Hackescher Markt. Hackescher Markt, located in the center of Berlin, is known as the start-up/tech district of the city. The area is filled with recently opened hotels and retailers such as Starbucks, Adidas, Puma, Nike and MUJI. Our walking tour covered sites such as the Berlin Wall, Hitler’s Bunker, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Cathedral, State Opera House and Pariser Platz. The walking tour was a great opportunity to understand the complex history of the city, its unification and the subsequent impact on the now booming real estate market.
Day 2: We kicked off the day by meeting with Jones Lang LaSalle, whose office is adjacent to the largest train station in Berlin – Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Berlin Hauptbahnhof opened in 2006 after being closed in 1957. Nearly, 1,800 trains and 350,000 passengers use the station daily. At Jones Lang LaSalle, we delved into the exploding tourism sector, the healthy retail market and ever emerging multi-family sector. This hot real estate market is all due to increased immigration of young professionals, short-stay tourism and an emerging tech scene. Later in the day, we toured Bikini Berlin, a retail hub in western Berlin that is developing unique boutique concept stores. Bikini Berlin is also forward thinking in its approach to cultivating temporary space for artist and fashion students to sell their goods.
Day 3: We explored more of the cultural side of Berlin by visiting Potsdam – a nearby city bordering Berlin. Potsdam is home to Sanssouci - the summer home of former “Frederick the Great,” the former King of Prussia. The palace, which rivals the French Palace of Versailles in its Rococo style, houses paintings and sculpture of the 18th century and is one of the largest tourist attractions in Berlin. Some students also traveled to the Museum Island to visit the New Museum (which houses the bust of Nefertiti) and Pergamon Museum (home to famed Market Gate of Miletus).
Day 4: On our last day we met with representatives from Cushman & Wakefield and Flatow Advisory Partners. At Cushman, we discussed recent shifts in traditional submarkets attracting tech tenants such as Facebook’s new office in the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz. At Flatow, we discussed capital flows and the ever increasing frustration of investors to place capitol in Berlin and other European cities.
Overall, Berlin is well on its way to becoming one of the top global cities in Europe and the world. We were fortunate to experience its momentum since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to delve deeper into this market and enjoy the many cultural excursions within the city. We're also very appreciative of the support of the James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate and Professor Arif Qureshi for his tireless work to make this trip a success.
Click here to learn more about the sites visited on this trip.