Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kaisersalutern

I spent most of yesterday, signing paperwork to sell the "old" Kaiserslautern house that I'd owned for just over twenty years.  I live in Wiesbaden now, and really don't need the house or the pains associated with it.

When I made that move in 1994 to Kaiserslautern, Germany.....I missed some of the signs and signals of the community.....as I bought this house.

First, K-town had peaked out on population in the 1980s.....going from 105,000-odd thousand residents to a point around a decade ago of 95,000.  They know of the losses, and spend day and night now trying to figure new gimmicks to attract people and business.

There's no jobs, no growth, and no attraction to the local area.  Their soccer team goes up and down on the Bundesliga yearly (first league, second league, etc).  If you drive around the community, you tend to notice another dozen business fronts each year which shut down and aren't filled by another company.

Second, the business side of K-town hates competition.  If any store-front of a major nature talks of coming into town.....smaller shop owners get all upset and start to talk to political folks about halting the new operation.  The Wal-Mart venture from two decades ago was such a episode.

Third, fixing problems?  I originally bought the place I had which was barely a mile from the oncoming autobahn.  It was going to make it real simple to drive into work.  The extension from Mainz to Kaiserslautern?  Well....work had been going on for almost twenty years and they only needed twelve miles around my area to finally wrap up the episode.  How long to build twelve miles of autobahn?  Roughly ten years.  Almost half of the period I lived there.....I was waiting for the road to be finished.

The road from my village to the next?  It was a curvaceous track of road going for about 2.5 miles.  If you'd straighten the road out....it would have been 1.5 miles.  For roughly 12 years, nothing was ever done, and I watched at least a dozen accidents per year occur (especially in winter months).  Then, the World Cup came to Germany.....with tons of extra money put out.....and they took out half the curves.  Amazingly, they had so much extra money.....they built a paved jogging trail from my village to the next.

My local village?  I enjoyed a great dinner or two at the local big-scale hotel that existed at the end of town.  Unfortunately, two years after I arrived there.....the owner-lady burned the place down (cops came to figure this out).  She was losing a ton of money on a hotel with no real guests.  She couldn't sell the place, and was stuck with an expensive boat-anchor.

I had two guys who started home-building projects back in 1994 in the village.  It was a build-as-you-go project.  Yesterday, I drove by each project and noted that twenty years have passed, and still....neither house is finished.  With one house.....I suspect he's ninety-eight percent done.  The second house is probably another five years from finishing.  Both are fairly large, with two or three apartments figured into them, and will provide ample income as the guys retire.  I doubt if ever guy owes anything to the bank....they simply paid for construction materials as they went along.

I won't say I'm negative about the village or K-town....but I would have probably gone in a different direction.....if I'd grasped the direction things were going.  I'll agree.....with road funding and work over the past five years.....there's been real improvement.  My comeback is that I would have appreciated this back in the 1990s more.  Same with losing residents each year.....there's less taxable income and fewer business opportunities existing.

So selling the place was an adios for me.  It was an interesting era, and now I can close the book on it.

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