Amsterdam: ADM, Property speculators want to run off with public money

The ADM is the last big cultural freehaven in Amsterdam, Netherlands and perhaps 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. The owners presented vague plans, which may cause a vast financial loss for the municipality.

Since the site 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 man 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. They claim to have plans for the site, but the plans presented so far seem unrealistic.

The municipality has written down 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. Earlier Amstellimmo BV and Chidda Vastgoed BV tried to get out from under these conditions in order to sell the land at great profit. The municipality had to fight the owners, even in 2004 at the Supreme Court, but succeeded. The ruling recognized that the municipality has both planning and financial reasons and rights 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 site. In this case some incoherent plans were put forward as a necessity. Those plans seemed almost not serious and are highly doubtful whether they fall within the provisions. Now they want to evict us through the courts. The municipality has to take financial and socio-political and cultural responsibility and needs to play an important role in this court-case.

The site is already 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 evacuated. The subpoena 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.

ADM, Hornweg 6, 1045AR Amsterdam

Press release, Wednesday April 29th 2015