Property speculators want to run off with public money
The ADM is the last big cultural freehaven in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and perhaps even Europe. An organically grown village in the Western Harbor where 130 creative people have been living and working for over 18 years.
They have now been summoned by the owners to leave the premises. Vague
plans are being waved about, which may cause a big financial loss for the municipality.
Since the terrain was abandoned in 1977 by the Amsterdam Dry Dock Company (ADM), developments have been blocked by real-estate speculators. In 1997 the site was purchased by real estate broker Bertus Luske. Luske is now deceased - shot dead in the criminal circuit. Now, the heirs Lüske (Amstellimmo BV and Chidda Vastgoed BV) have summoned the residents to court. They claim to have plans for the site, but the plans presented so far seem unrealistic.
The municipality included stringent contractual terms when the terrain was sold in 1970 in a so called perpetual clause, which was intended to curb speculation. Among others, the use of the terrain is limited to shipbuilding and the municipality has the first right to buy. Therefore the price of the terrain is much lower. In the past Amstellimmo BV and Chidda Vastgoed BV tried to get out from under these conditions in order to sell the land with a great profit. The municipality had to fight the owners, even up to the Supreme Court in 2004, and succeeded. The ruling recognized that due to planning and financial reasons the municipality has the right to stick to the perpetual clause.
Recently, Amstellimmo BV and Chidda Vastgoed BV lost a court-case in which they tried to force entry to the ADM terrain. In this case some incoherent plans were put forward as a necessity for gaining entrance. It is highly doubtful whether these plans fall within the provisions. Now they want to evict the terrain through the courts. The municipality has to take financial as well as socio-political and cultural responsibility and needs to play an important role in this court-case.
In the meanwhile the terrain has been in use for 18 years by artists, craftsmen and inventors, and has become the biggest cultural freehaven of the Netherlands. Self-reliance, creativity, reuse of materials and cultural influence are important elements in the ADM life. The spontaneously grown living-working community is famous all over the world because of its socio-cultural innovation and exchange.
Autonomous and experimental areas as the ADM are a source of inspiration for new ideas and initiatives. Many squatting sites and cultural sanctuaries have been evicted. The court summons is a threat to everyone who feels connected to values where the ADM stands for. It also threatens the carefully defended public money. The upcoming period will show how the city of Amsterdam will react.