The city of Berlin was shocked this week to hear that the County Mayo brothers Michael and Cathal Cannon, who control the Checkpoint Charlie site are broke.
Formerly the hottest fault line of the cold war, Checkpoint Charlie is now home to fast-food joints and souvenir stand.a However next month the Cannon brothers investment is set for foreclosure.
On Friday Michael Cannon denied German reports that his company, KE Kavel, was broke.
According to the Irish Times report five years ago KE Kavel, controlled by the Cannon brothers and their partner, Owen Kirk, paid €29 million to buy the two outstanding sites on either side of Friedrichstrasse.
Checkpoint Charlie is now in liquidation and Cannon has confirmed that an insolvency auction will take place next month.
He said he is optimistic of halting the auction by paying off outstanding debts inherited on the property, taking control of the site and turning it into a mixed retail and residential development – to include the cold war museum and memorial.
The people of Berlin have heard many promises made about the Checkpoint Charlie area of the years. They’re also “horrified” by the fast-food stands and beach bar currently in the area.
A local officer working, Axel Schneider, told the Irish Times “It’s completely baseless and undignified. There’s nothing that indicates its historical importance. Either this should be restored or regular offices built on the site. Not this tatty carnival.”
The manager of the Berlin Wall Museum, Alexandra Hildebrandt is furious. She said “The world has to decide if shops or fast-food stands are appropriate for this site or a memorial.”
A representative of Berlin’s Government said they remained hopeful that the Cannon brothers would build on the site. They said “Berlin doesn’t want memorials everywhere but it insists on one on this site.”
Cannon said the development work would start soon and the food stalls, which were put there by the German liquidator would vanish.
He said “We don’t own the site and we weren’t aware kebabs were being sold there…But they’re all short-term tenancies.”
Here’s a clip from Rick Steve’s show on Checkpoint Charlie: