The Mall of Berlin, a 270-store complex that opened today in the city center, gives the growing numbers of tourists who visit the German capital a new place to spend their money. Within a year, it’s set to become the country’s largest shopping center as 30 percent more space is added.
The Mall of Berlin, located on the site of the former Wertheim department store a 5-minute walk from Potsdamer Platz, has about 100,000 square meters (1 million square feet) of shops in low-rise stone and glass townhouses that evoke the area’s prewar architecture.
“This will be the most successful mall in Germany because we built something special at an extraordinary location,” the developer Harald Huth said. Tenants include Guess, Karl Lagerfeld and Lacoste.
The new shopping center is made up of stone-clad, low-rise buildings that echo the original Wertheim’s architecture, with decorative arches around the courtyard and floral carvings on the benches. Large photographs of the Wertheim, which was seized from a Jewish family of the same name by the Nazis in 1937, hang in the complex.
Huth, who designed the decorative flourishes himself, said he pored over old black-and-white photographs of the former emporium for inspiration. “I felt it was important to keep reminders of the way Wertheim used to be,” he said during a tour of the mall today.
“This is an investment for the future,” Mayor Klaus Wowereit said last night at a gala event ahead of today’s opening. “The other mall operators are eyeing this one with concern. But this isn’t about taking anything from anyone but about adding to Berlin’s growth.”
When the Mall of Berlin is expanded to 130,000 square meters of shops, it will replace Ruhr-Park in the industrial city of Bochum as the country’s biggest retail property. While it may be the largest mall in Europe’s largest economy, it can’t compete with Dubai on at least one count: like anywhere in Germany, there will be no shopping on Sundays.