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American settlement in Plittersdorf: Plans to reopen American Club in

American settlement in Plittersdorf : Plans to reopen American Club in 2024

The Montag Foundations want to revive the old American Club. They envision it as a place of democracy and sharing. Representatives of the foundations presented their concept and financing plans to the Bad Godesberg district council.

When Karl-Heinz Imhäuser speaks of the American Club in Plittersdorf, one can gather from his remarks that he holds a certain enthusiasm and fondness for the historic building. Imhäuser is a board member of the umbrella foundation of the Carl Richard Montag Foundations. It's a big undertaking to restore the club, but one that doesn't seem to deter those in charge.

On Wednesday evening Imhäuser and other representatives presented the initial plans from the project team to the members of the Bad Godesberg district council. Between eight and ten million euros were given as the cost of the project. The renovation costs are between five and six and a half million euro. The Montag Foundations will bear 30 percent of the construction costs, with the remaining 70 percent to be covered by grants or subsidies, for example.

"A totally exciting project"

After the Montag Foundations were approached to take over the club, they took a closer look at the piece of real estate. It quickly became clear that it was "a totally exciting project," says Imhäuser. The so-called “Ami-Club” would bring together many of the ideas that the foundations stand for. In May, they began to develop a concept. The goal is to create an "open embassy for democracy" in keeping with the property's past. The exact name is "Embassy for Democracy @ America Club”.

Basement is difficult to use

"The building has 1,000 square meters of floor space, in the two floors altogether about 2,000 square meters. The basement is well dug in, but somewhat difficult in terms of usability. There used to be a basement bar there," says Hermann Ulrich of the Bonn urban planning office, who is part of the project team. Only a few rooms have daylight. For this reason, the basement will not be included in the renovation plans for the time being.

The upper floor used to house meeting rooms. In terms of urban planning, the property had not been treated "very conscientiously" in the past, because the neighboring Bonn International School (BIS) had been extended very close to the club. The distance was only eight meters. Ulrich praised the structure as a "very light building". It stands on only a few supports, so that there are only a few load-bearing walls. Because of that, he said, one is relatively free in the design. "We believe that you can create wonderful and also spacious rooms, especially on the first floor," Ulrich said. However, the protection of historical monuments must be taken into account. "We're talking about 1,000 square meters of Sleeping Beauty that have to be awakened," he said.

Montag Foundations have exact financing plan

The project must be supported and financed, and the Montag Foundations already have a concrete plan for this, although it has not yet been finalized. For the foundations, real estate is a "means to an end" in order to give civic and civil society the basis for a lasting commitment, explained Stefan Anspach from the board of the Montag Foundation "Urban Spaces," which is to take charge of the American Club.

On the one hand, the project has a non-profit company, which ensures that all surpluses and income from the property are reinvested. That is a very important component of the construct.

On the other hand, an association or foundation is to be established to manage the activities on site. There should then be a cooperation agreement or a lease between the non-profit company and the association. It is important that there is continuity and that the supporting association also has a correspondingly low rental burden.

It is now crucial to build up a shared funding structure and to see who can get involved and how. By the end of next year, all organizational matters are to be clarified, such as the intended leasehold agreement between the foundation, BIS and Vebowag as the owner of the property.

Imhäuser made it clear that the Montag Foundations are not interested in buying the club, but rather in taking it over on the basis of a leasehold. "The experience of past projects has shown that we achieve good results via this method," said Imhäuser. After all, this would also mean linking the municipality to the project. In 2023, the “Ami Club” is to be renovated and preparations made to put it back in operation. The opening of the "Open Embassy for Democracy @ America Club" is scheduled for 2024.

In the first two years, the project is on a firm financial footing

According to Imhäuser, the project is secure for the first two years. A project company will be founded, which will be equipped with equity capital and will be able to act accordingly. Income is to be generated later by renting out the rooms.

BIS has already signaled that it will host its graduation ceremonies there. But other institutions will be able to rent the rooms as well. Exhibitions are also conceivable, he said. "We have a variety of ideas," Imhäuser said. The funds would be available until there is an appropriate support structure. Even in the event that the funding structure is not suitable, they are equipped.

From the local politicians came the wish that the district council would be able to hold their meetings in the renovated club. This was well-received by the Montag Foundations, as they viewed the council as a fitting body to meet in this important place of democracy.

Orig. text: Maximilian Mühlens

Translation: ck