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Google to open new Berlin office

The US tech giant has planned several hundred new jobs for the new office. Locals have rejected Google's previous plans for a start-up campus over concerns for their rent and livelihoods.

Google confirmed on Sunday it has bought new premises in Berlin's central Mitte district close to its existing city headquarters. The Johannishof building is expected to be renovated before workers move in. 

"For us, this is a clear commitment to the Berlin location," Google spokesman Ralf Bremer told Germany's dpa news agency. "Berlin has a booming start-up scene, excellent universities and is one of the most attractive locations in Europe along with Hamburg and Munich." 

Bremer told local daily Berliner Zeitung that people working at the new building will focus on existing tasks.

"At the moment, different teams from the Cloud, Google for Startups, Google Play, Marketing, Politics, Software Engineering, Sales and YouTube departments are working in the Berlin office," he said.

Rising rents

Last year Google shelved plans for a start-up campus in an electrical substation-turned-concert venue in Kreuzberg, one of Berlin's most popular districts, after a series of setbacks and protests.

Initial planning permission had been denied because of the potential noise for local residents, and because "the planned installation of an additional story in the historical building would also exceed the designated floor-area size for the district," local councilor Julian Schwarze told the Neues Deutschland newspaper at the time.

Kreuzberg's anti-gentrification campaigners told DW that they were worried about their rents, their apartments and the area in general.

Because we've seen that when large tech companies settle in, the areas change a lot — the rents get very expensive, the retail spaces get very expensive," Coni Pfeiffer of the local initiative Glorreiche said. "In principle, the complete area that was there before simply gets replaced by other people and other businesses."

After Google backtracked on its plans for the Kreuzberg building, it was decided to instead house a social institution there, Google and the organizations involved said.

Read more: Germany's soaring housing prices spark calls for reform 

DW's Ben Knight contributed to this story.

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