Bonn The city of Bonn wants to invest 17.2 million euros to make improvements along the Rhine promenade. And even though the need for renovation is obvious in many places, there are no concrete plans as of yet.
"Regardless of whether they are coming from Cologne or Koblenz, the cityscape gives visitors a good first impression of Bonn," says Ernst Porschen. The 73-year-old plays tour guide to probably 120 groups a year, whether from hotel ships or tour buses. And he's been doing this since 2007, giving him a good feel for what people want and what they dislike.
At the end of 2023, the city council wants to embark on a redesign of the Rhine embankment from the Beethovenhalle to the Zweite Fährgasse, where in the last 13 years, no improvements have taken place. The city council is no longer relying on a winning plan from a previous competition, but instead wants to launch a new architectural competition involving citizen participation and an online survey. 17.2 million euros are expected to be invested in two project phases - twelve million euros of which will come from the state's urban development funding.
It means that local government has initiated a building project without even roughly determining what is to be built (or redesigned). "The costs were determined based on the size of the area so that an application could be submitted for urban development funding (...)," confirms Markus Schmitz from the press office. A decision had to be made now because the competition is to be launched in September. A funding decision is still pending.
Lack of a plan despite obvious problems
This approach is perplexing, since the main issues with the Rhine promenade have been obvious for at least 15 years now. Passenger ship tourists feel it is much too narrow, and with a highly frequented two-way bike path, bus touring visitors, who are often restricted in terms of mobility, have to cross the bike path on the way back to the coach. "It's hard to describe the battle-like scenes that take place," says Porschen, a retired colonel. Many students from the Beethoven High School avoid the bike path for that reason and regularly ride in groups on the pedestrian promenade instead.
With the designation of a bicycle street from Rosental parallel to the Rhine, the problem could easily be solved. There had already been corresponding plans and expert opinions on this in 2014. Only a short stretch at Fritz-Schroeder-Ufer was designated as such, without creating an entrance or exit from the bike path. Official parking bays for tour buses have also been sought for years.
The second main problem is trash. Below the opera house, the city had the riverbank area rebuilt in 2020 at a cost of around 250,000 euros. The result has been generally well received. Bonn Orange also installed new large trash cans with a narrow opening. On the rest of the promenade, however, there are small and wide-open square trash receptacles. They are quickly filled with coffee cups and food containers. And the wind blows the rest into the brush along the promenade. "It's often very off-putting in the morning," Porschen finds. After unknown persons torched about 20 trash cans in the fall, things got even worse.
The third problem is access to the city center. The problem had already been recognized in 2010 and Bonn wanted to open up to the Rhine. "Only the new stairway at the Alter Zoll offers a passable way into the city," says Porschen. In 2022, a lift is finally to be installed there to accommodate people with mobility impairments. Older visitors often can't make it up the stairs to the opera grounds. Their only option is to walk through Rathausgasse with its neglected buildings in the Viktoriaviertel district, where there is often leftover food and vomit on the sidewalks after the weekends. The graffitied underpass to Brüdergasse is unsuitable for walkers because of its cobbled pavement and it is an eyesore as an entrance to the city, Porschen says. The city has always postponed renovations, waiting for an overall concept for the Rhine riverbank area.
Lack of restaurants along the promenade
If tour guide Porschen would wish for anything, it would be small improvements and more maintenance. But he also sees the need for action when it comes to gastronomy. "There are no restaurants along the entire promenade that entice people to stop and stay awhile," he says. Existing offerings are nostalgic at best, he says. A restaurant ship on the way to the federal district could revitalize the scene, Porschen could imagine.
The city had already recognized this problem in 2009, when it gave the go-ahead for the construction of the “Rhinelogen” on the Brassertufer. And it’s possible that the developer paid too low a price for the property. It was envisaged that two restaurants would be included on the property, but since the completion of the building in 2012, only two shisha bars have established themselves there for part of the time. No major tenant has ever moved into the large building.
Orig. text: Martin Wein