Dimitri Hegemann founded Tresor, one of the world’s most famous techno-music clubs, in the abandoned bank vault beneath the bombed-out Wertheim department store after the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago. He has since turned a former East Berlin power plant into an 86,000-square-foot event space. On the roof, he keeps 120,000 bees, whose honey he sells in the basement nightclub. “We call it Techno Honey — a natural energizer,” he says.
For his next act, according to Jack Nicas, writing from Berlin for the Wall Street Journal, he hopes to start a dance club in Fisher Body 21, the dilapidated auto plant near the intersection of I-94 and I-75 in Detroit. For the project, he has enlisted a Detroit real-estate developer, a Detroit architect and a Swiss foundation that helps redevelop abandoned buildings. Hegemann is confident the contamination issues can be overcome, but if not, he said he would turn his sights to the deserted Michigan Central Station in Detroit.
“The Germans’ love of Detroit is palpable. When they were here it was expressed daily and often,” said Walter Wasacz, a Detroit music journalist who is Hegemann’s Motor City point man.
The Fisher plant is not far from the Packard Plant, the much larger -- and even more devastated -- industrial campus purchased last year by a Peru-based businessman who plans to develop it.
This summer, a dozen Berliners flew to Detroit to conduct a five-hour symposium for locals on how Berlin turned a ruined city into a cultural hub.
They gave lectures on cultivating a music scene, circumventing government bureaucracy and recapturing abandoned buildings. Amid meetings with community organizers and local developers, the Berliners toured ruins, dined at a Zen Buddhism cafe and danced at a techno-music festival.
Berlin and Detroit have a deeper connection than tough times. The Berliners say they want to pay Detroit back for giving Berlin a crucial element to its own recovery: Techno music.
Read more at The Wall Street Journal