Mayor takes air out of Babelsberg plan

Berlin mayor rents former airfield to fashion trade fair

More Berlinale coverage

BERLIN -- Studio Babelsberg's plans to turn Berlin's legendary Tempelhof Airport into a backlot have been grounded by Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit's surprise decision to rent the decommissioned airfield to a fashion trade fair.

The deal, negotiated by the mayor without consulting the Berlin senate, has shot down Babelsberg's plans to bolster its main studio complex outside the city with Tempelhof, which stretches through three-quarters of a mile of prime real estate in central Berlin.

Instead, Bread & Butter, a casual wear trade fair, has secured a 10-year lease on the Tempelhof space. The fair only needs Tempelhof for two months a year, and Berlin is looking for other renters.

But it's game over for Babelsberg, whose plans require a year-round operation.

"(Our) deal is dead," Studio Babelsberg deputy head Christoph Fisser said.