Bonn · On 1 October, the Bonn Oxford Club celebrates its 50th anniversary. But the members are not only in the mood to celebrate. The club can no longer pay the rent on Adenauerallee. What will happen next?
The celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the twinning of Bonn and Oxford came to an end a week ago. A nice party was held in the garden of the Oxford Club. On 1 October, the 50th anniversary of the club will be celebrated, a year later than planned due to Corona. But the 120 or so remaining members are not just in a celebratory mood on this occasion.
Doris Daufeldt, press officer and honorary president of the club, which was founded in 1971, confirmed to the GA that the club will have to leave its rooms in the listed building on Adenauerallee, which occupies about 250 square metres, at the end of November.
The club had already given notice to vacate the rooms some time ago because it could no longer pay the rent permanently from its own income. Most recently, the landlord had lowered the interest rate and the Bonn district council provided the club with a subsidy for one and a half years, which is now coming to an end. "The pandemic hit us hard. In the past few years, we were no longer able to organise trips that covered part of our income," said Daufeldt.
Cultivating town twinning
The club, whose aim from the beginning was to cultivate the twinning relationship through events and meetings, had already undergone a transformation in the past decades. Before the move to the capital, it had 450 paying members, according to Daufeldt. "After that, we became fewer and fewer." There had also been some attempts to recruit new members. A youth group had emerged in the meantime, but the wish for an exchange with young people from the British twin town had not been reciprocated.
Daufeldt is firmly convinced that the club and its founding idea have "a lot of potential that can be tapped". And so the board and members are anxious to keep the club and its programme going, which includes educational events, conversation courses and the occasional whiskey tasting.
That's why the club is looking for an affordable, easily accessible place to stay from December. "We don't need 250 square metres more, but one larger and one smaller room for an office should be," Daufeldt explained. For the time being, it would also help to have a place to store the heavy, "very British" furniture. From her point of view, it would be ideal if the city would create a meeting place for internationally oriented associations, from which the 20 or so societies that have been able to use the club's rooms in Adenauerallee for a small rent could also benefit.
City searches for property
But now a quick solution is needed. The club has turned to the city for help, but so far has not been able to find anything suitable. Andrea Schulte from the press office said: "The administration is continuously checking whether and which properties from the city's real estate portfolio are available and suitable and offers them to the Oxford Club. The administration is currently in talks with the Oxford Club about renting a specific property. The administration is also in contact with the club about the rental conditions.
The non-profit Academy for International Education (AIB) is also moving out of the building with the club, as Managing Director Sebastian Welter confirmed. The organisation, an internationally active academic forum, will, however, keep its main location on Wilhelmstraße. The termination of the Adenauerallee location is the result of a consolidation course, he said. The exchange programmes, Welter said, were not yet running as they did in pre-Corona times.
The city sold the building to a private individual more than ten years ago. The landlord, who does not want to be named, told the GA that he regrets the departure of both organisations and is now looking for new tenants.
Original text: Philipp Königs
Translation: Mareike Graepel