Lakes, forests, historic villages and a pioneering new urban district: Berlin’s Reinickendorf district offers all this and much more. Where Alexander von Humboldt once discovered nature, locomotives were produced for all of Europe and, until recently, airplanes from all over the world landed, today lies an up-and-coming residential area. What makes Reinickendorf special and what is planned for the future is revealed in this article.
Reinickendorf is located in northwest Berlin and stretches along the Havel River as a northern extension of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf. It also shares a border with Pankow, Mitte and Spandau. Reinickendorf is one of the most sparsely populated districts in the capital, with a population of about 266,000.
Lakes and forests: Reinickendorf’s flagship
Reinickendorf’s nature attracts people from all over Berlin to the district in the northwest. About one-fifth of its area is covered with forest, a large part of which is Tegeler Forst. It is a landscape conservation area with many hiking and walking trails as well as a game preserve. Tegeler Forst is home to both the largest and the oldest tree in Berlin.
Another natural highlight of Reinickendorf is Lake Tegel. After the Müggelsee, it is the second largest lake in Berlin. It offers recreational pleasures for every taste. At various bathing spots you can enjoy the cool water in summer, and water sports enthusiasts also get their money’s worth. Walking paths and a bicycle circuit lead around the lake.
The Greenwich Promenade on Lake Tegel in Alt-Tegel conjures up a Mediterranean feeling. Excursion steamers depart from the landing stage for trips across the lake and the Havel River, and a pretty walking path leads along the shore. Excursion restaurants and cafés invite you to linger directly at the lake.
Reinickendorf’s nature also inspired one of the greatest naturalists of the 19th century. Alexander von Humboldt is considered one of the most important researchers of his time. He grew up in Tegel Palace, which is still privately owned by the Humboldt family. His brother, Wilhelm von Humboldt, was an educational reformer and linguist and founded the Humboldt University of Berlin.
Not only the nature, but also the architecture in Reinickendorf is versatile. The district enchants with historic sites such as the village of Lübars. It is the only preserved historic village within the city limits of Berlin. Many buildings from the 19th century are still preserved in the old village center. Visitors can learn about traditional crafts and agricultural techniques here. A historic village center has also been preserved in Wittenau: Among old trees are historic homes and an old church from the 15th century.
Historical monuments from another era can be found in Tegel. Here, the Borsig company produced locomotives, steam engines and refrigerating machines from 1898. Borsig was at times the largest locomotive producer in Europe and the second largest in the world. The company also offered its workers social benefits and set up a health insurance fund, among other things. The Borsig Group still manufactures industrial machinery today. Of the former factories, the Borsig Tower – one of Berlin’s first high-rise buildings – the Borsig Gate and the Borsig Halls remain, and they are all listed buildings.
Amusement Mile and UNESCO World Heritage Site
Today, the halls house a shopping center with numerous stores, a bowling alley and a cinema. The Borsighallen are very close to Alt-Tegel, the lively shopping street with stores, bars and restaurants in the district of the same name. The street leads around the lake with the Greenwich Promenade.
Furthermore, Reinickendorf is home to the Märkisches Viertel, a high-rise housing estate from the sixties and seventies. The Schillerpromenade estate, the so-called White City, dates from the 1920s. The rows of houses painted in brilliant white comprise a total of 1,600 apartments. Since 2008, the estate, as a Berlin Modernist settlement, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In Frohnau, on the other hand, located in the very north of Reinickendorf, a middle-class flair prevails. With its pretty town center, symmetrically laid-out parks and well-kept villas, the district has almost the feel of a health resort. Small stores and cozy cafés invite you to browse and linger.
Where Berlin is still Berlin
Nevertheless, tourists rarely visit Reinickendorf. And new Berliners also tend to move to other areas of the capital. Even those who avoid Mitte and the trendy districts like Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg are more likely to end up in Wedding and Lichtenberg than in Reinickendorf. As a result, the old-established are mostly among themselves here. The district has the reputation that Berlin is still Berlin here. This is also reflected in the stores and restaurants: they are more down-to-earth than hip.
Reinickendorf’s housing market on an upward trend
But Reinickendorf is undergoing a transformation. The district is increasingly appearing on the radar of residents of the capital who want to move within the city. In terms of internal migration, Reinickendorf is already recording a positive balance.
Housing market data reflects the high demand for housing. The asking prices for condominiums in Reinickendorf rose by 15.5 percent in 2020 compared with the previous year. This is shown in the Housing Market Report 2021 by the brokerage firm CBRE and Berlin Hyp, a bank for commercial real estate financing. According to the report, Reinickendorf’s rate of increase is one of the highest in a comparison of the districts. Berlin-wide it is up to 7.4 percent.
Good entry opportunities for investors
At the same time, the price level in Reinickendorf is currently still comparatively low: On average, a condominium (asking price) costs 3,842 euros per square meter. This is significantly less than the Berlin average of €4,973 per square meter. The comparatively low price level offers good entry opportunities for investors.
High prices in Frohnau and on the waterfront, among others
Every two years, the authors of the Housing Market Report examine Berlin’s rents and purchase prices by zip code area. The 2020 report shows: The highest asking prices in Reinickendorf are called up around the (former) airport, averaging between €5,500 and €5,999 per square meter. Likewise, high prices are being asked in Frohnau, Heiligensee, Hermsdorf, around Lake Tegel and on the Havel (€4,500 to €4,999 per square meter).
The situation is similar for rents: According to the 2020 Housing Market Report, the highest rents in Reinickendorf are in Frohnau, Heiligensee, Hermsdorf, at Lake Tegel and around the (former) airport. The report cites asking rents of between €10 and €12 per square meter on average. The authors of the study point out, however, that the figures for rents may have been distorted by the rent brake.
Good forecasts for Reinickendorf
The figures also show how heterogeneous Reinickendorf’s housing market is. According to the 2020 report, Reinickendorf is home to both one of Berlin’s districts with the lowest average rents (Märkisches Viertel West) and one of those with the highest purchasing power (Frohnau).
The prospects are good, however: the population forecast up to 2030 is positive. The subsequent use of the airport with several thousand jobs should also ensure high demand for housing.
Reinickendorf after TXL: Opportunity through closure
It is impossible to report on Reinickendorf without reporting on TXL Airport. The capital’s airport determined life in Reinickendorf for decades; residents in the south of the district in particular suffered from aircraft noise. In November 2020, the airport closed; the new capital city airport BER will replace it. This means that Reinickendorf will gain in quiet – and further attractiveness as a residential area.
A new neighborhood on the TXL site
Plans have already been made for the further use of the site: the Schumacher Quarter is to be a new urban quarter for 10,000 people. 5,000 apartments as well as daycare centers, schools and stores are planned. It is to be a smart, sustainable and socially mixed residential district. 40 percent of the apartments will be socially committed. In addition, two other small neighborhoods called Cité Pasteur and TXL Nord are planned. Another 4,000 apartments will be built here. Former Berlin mayor Michael Müller spoke of the project as a model city, a city of the future.
The Urban Tech Republic, a research and industrial park, is to be built in the immediate vicinity of the Schumacher Quarter. Here, 1,000 companies and institutes with around 20,000 employees will conduct research on urban technologies. The focus will be on topics such as sustainable construction, recycling and environmentally friendly mobility. It was recently announced that a pilot project with self-driving buses is to start on the site. The autonomous vehicles are to take construction company employees to construction sites.
The redevelopment and reuse of the airport site is one of the largest urban development projects in Europe. The new, sustainable urban quarter in particular has also attracted international attention. According to rbb, urban planners from Singapore, where a similar project is planned, have already attended workshops in Berlin.