Actually, the construction cranes should have been standing on the property at the new horse market long ago.

But the new construction of the six-storey office building called Paulihaus, the future joint headquarters of the urban planning company STEG, the transport planners from Argus, the real estate company Hamburg Team and the advertising agency Pahnke Markenmacherei, is stuck. 

Where the building is to be built, there is now a single-storey brick building with the Indian Maharaja restaurant.

The city of Hamburg, which wants to pass the space on to the company consortium, wanted to get rid of the restaurant operator Kathrin Guthmann via its rental company Sprinkenhof by giving notice.

But Guthmann felt unjustly expelled and took legal action against a premature termination of the rental agreement.

The Hamburg district court gave the restaurant operator the right and declared the termination to be unlawful.

The case is now with the Higher Regional Court.

At a hearing at the end of August, the public learned of a date that usually remains hidden: the Commission for Land Management is due to decide this week whether the urban property will be leased to the Paulihaus consortium.

The commission, which decides on the allocation of urban land, usually does not publish its agenda in order to remain free from interference.

In the case of the Maharaja property, it should also decide whether the area should go to the three companies without tendering - i.e. by direct award. 

If the public sector refrains from tendering a property, it must provide a comprehensible reason for this.

In this case, the city justifies the direct award by stating that two of the four companies involved are entitled to economic development.

In 2016, the city had already certified the advertising agency Pahnke Markenmacherei that it was eligible for funding.

"The proposal to integrate Pahnke came from Hamburg's economic development agency, as it was known that Pahnke was looking for new space for further growth," says Regine Jorzick, who speaks for the Paulihaus consortium.

"It was a good fit because the company was already based in the district." 

This move pissed off the opponents of the Paulihaus office building.

"Why couldn't the existing building users or craftsmen or initiatives from the district who really need it apply for the property?" Asks Mario Bloem, urban planner and part of the St. Pauli Code Jetzt initiative.

The advertising agency allegedly threatened to go to Berlin if they couldn't find any new, larger rooms near their current location in the Schanzenviertel.

"We think that's an advance," said Bloem.

"It's not about local companies that want to stay here - the main beneficiary of the new building and business development is a big player from Berlin."

In fact, the advertising agency Pahnke Markenmacherei not only works predominantly for the confectionery group Storck from Berlin - 65 percent of the agency is owned by the Berlin-based Storck managing director and billionaire Axel Oberwelland.

Oberwelland would also have a stake of more than 25 percent in the Paulihaus as the largest shareholder.

A Berlin billionaire - an economic development case in Hamburg?

"When it comes to economic development, you automatically think of subsidies and need. But this is not the case," says Andreas Köpke of the city's Hamburg Invest.

"It's about whether the city sells or leases a piece of land. This only happens if the positive effects defined for Hamburg are achieved. So it doesn't matter whether one of the parties is a billionaire."

In her fight against displacement, Maharaja operator Kathrin Guthmann has now applied to become an economic aid case in order to be able to stay at her location.

It was before the regional court, of all places, that she found out about the rejection of this application.

At the court hearing, Guthmann complains, a Sprinkenhof representative argued that the restaurant had no future at this location - and this was based, among other things, on the fact that Hamburg Invest had rejected the Maharaja's request.

How could it be, according to Guthmann in a letter to the soil commission that ZEIT has, that the Sprinkenhof has "information that is clearly outside its area of ​​responsibility or its field of activity as a commercial space landlord"?

Hamburg Invest guarantees that no information has been passed on in this regard.

The tax authorities, which had also received the application, stated that they were in "close substantive exchange" with the Sprinkenhof in connection with the legal proceedings and that it was a lawyer from the city who argued that the restaurant's application had no prospect for success.

On September 25, the higher regional court decides in the dispute between Maharaja and Sprinkenhof whether the special termination was not legal.

The Paulihaus consortium now assumes that the cult child's lease will come to an end when the lease expires at the latest and that construction can then begin - albeit with a delay of over two years.