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Underground rail access in Bonn: City in dispute with investor over escalators at Motel One

Underground rail access in Bonn : City in dispute with investor over escalators at Motel One

After the city granted building rights to the investor ‘Urban Soul’ for the plot above the underground station, the reinstallation of the escalators has been blocked. There is a technical solution to the problem, but the Zech Group apparently does not want to bear the additional costs.

The city and the investor ‘Urban Soul’ are still in dispute over the follow-up costs of a planning error at the new Motel One. The consequences affect passengers at the Thomas-Mann-Straße stop, who have to use a temporary metal staircase. It is completely unclear when the escalators will be available again.

The company ‘Die Developer Projektentwicklung GmbH’ had the two old escalators dismantled during the construction phase. According to the city, this was a prerequisite for the static reinforcement of the underground structure on which the hotel was built. The problem: one corner of the hotel protrudes so far beyond the station exit that the reinstallation of the escalators no longer works. Technical alternatives are being considered, but the matter of who should pay for the additional expense is in dispute.

Stadtwerke Bonn (SWB) and the investor from Zech Group have both engaged lawyers. "We are still in an out-of-court settlement phase," says SWB spokeswoman Veronika John. "As soon as the assumption of costs for the city of Bonn and the investor is clarified, the tendering and commissioning can take place." According to SWB plans, the installations are to be delivered in a multi-part model. John explains, "the components will be assembled at the installation site."

The situation angers not only passengers, but also council politicians. "There must be a solution to make this central facility accessible for all," emphasises Green transport expert Rolf Beu. He criticises the fact that when the municipal building plot at the main station was sold, the city administration did not contractually ensure that the investor pays for the reinstallation of the escalators in full. For CDU planning politician Bert Moll, it is clear "that the missing escalator is a serious mistake in the investor's planning and construction". The city administration must insist on a solution at the developers’ expense, he said. "The investor must bear the additional costs, because the costs-by-cause principle applies here," emphasises SPD parliamentary group chair Angelika Esch. "Why this matter has still not been resolved is beyond us.”

The city is tight-lipped. "These questions are the subject of negotiations between the city and the investor," says the press office. In September, city spokesperson Monika Hörig explained that the fault lay with the investor "insofar as he did not install the escalator in time". An enquiry to Die Developer Projektentwicklung GmbH remained unanswered.

A point that could weaken Bonn's negotiating position: In the purchase contract for the plot, the investor had its right to build by the access to the underground guaranteed and therefore was granted building permission without any problems. The purchase contract was negotiated by the then head of the real estate division in the economic development department.

It is the same contract that cost the city so dearly in residual costs: the investor was able to deduct extraordinary expenses for the preparation of the plot, such as demolition work and hazardous waste disposal, from the purchase price of 23.5 million euros - without any tangible specifications for the type of settlement. By July 2020, the developers had claimed at least 11.4 million euros. The city administration has not yet named a final deduction amount.

(Original text: Andreas Baumann, Translation: Caroline Kusch)