Beethoven Hall in Bonn Financial disaster will probably lead to massive legal dispute

Bonn · The renovation costs for the Beethoven Hall are already 67 per cent over budget. And that is not the end of the story. A massive legal dispute is expected.

The bad news was foreseeable but it still hurts. On Friday, as reported, the city had to admit following a request from the GA that the cost estimate for the renovation of the heritage protected Beethoven Hall now stands at 102.7 million Euros. This means that since construction began at the end of 2016, the costs have exploded by 67 per cent from 61.5 million – and the building work will continue until at least summer 2020.

“The news, which is devastating for Bonn tax payers, comes as no surprise in view of the ludicrous scope of the renovation and new construction,” comments Marcel Schmitt. The leader of the Bürger Bund Bonn parliamentary group speaks of “sloppy planning.” The responsible city director, Wolfgang Fuchs, is overwhelmed by the management of the project.

Werner Hümmrich fears that the cost explosion will affect citizens’ confidence in the city council. “We did not decide to renovate on the basis of sound planning,” says the leader of the FDP parliamentary group. “The costs of 60 million Euros mentioned at that time were unrealistic. One must also talk about liability claims.”

Tom Schmidt, who represents the Greens on the project advisory committee, has also reacted very angrily. “The fact that the administration, together with the many, often highly paid, project and legal advisors, is not able to provide the council with a reasonably reliable – financial – basis for its landmark decision on such major projects makes me very thoughtful,” says the parliamentary group leader.

Already criticism two years ago

The council coalition of CDU, Greens and FDP had decided on a full renovation of the Beethoven Hall and an extension for technology into Wachsbleiche Street despite resistance from the opposition. Schmidt is now demanding that the right conclusions be drawn from the massive construction site problems. “We must draw fundamental conclusions for the organisational structure of future major projects, but also for the Beethoven Hall,” says the Green.

As well as structural difficulties and cavities in the subsoil, the city administration continually refers to problems with the project planners from the Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos architect firm in Berlin, who as contractors are not allowed to comment. At the end of last year, they were several months behind the agreed schedule, according to the city. On Friday, the press office could not comment on the current situation. “The most recently submitted schedule is currently being reviewed, meaning reliable statements are not yet possible,” said deputy city spokesperson Marc Hoffmann.

The city had already made public its criticism of Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos GmbH two years ago, shortly after construction started. The press office could not say on Friday why they did not fire the project planners long ago. The problem may be that the local authority would probably have to conduct a Europe-wide tender to look for a new project planner – which would lead to a months long standstill and further delays.

In the end, there will probably be a legal dispute with the Berlin firm. The city has therefore long been allowing their lawyers to follow and document the project. However, the outcome of any court case is uncertain.

(Original text: Andreas Baumann. Translation: kc)

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