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New flats planned: Group buys former post office site in Bonn for 19.6m Euro

New flats planned : Group buys former post office site in Bonn for 19.6m Euro

For almost four years, the old buildings in the Nordstadt have stood largely empty. Now there is a breakthrough. The new owners are no strangers to Bonn.

A land deal worth millions has set the course for new flats in the Nordstadt. The new buildings are to be built on the site of the former postal logistics centre on Kaiser-Karl-Ring opposite Frankenbad. This is the payoff for a push by the planning committee, which had passed a pre-emption statute to put pressure on the project.

The postal company had given up the 6,895 square metre site between Vorgebirgsstraße, Kaiser-Karl-Ring and Dorotheenstraße in January 2018. Since then, the halls and offices in the building block along Kaiser-Karl-Ring have been empty; the central warehouse for donations in kind in Bonn (Zesabo) also had to leave the site and move to Weststadt. Only the corner building on Vorgebirgsstraße is still alive: The Tuscolo restaurant is located there.

After the post office's withdrawal, the council's planning politicians decided to draw up a development plan that would include housing, offices and services. A citizens' initiative led by activist Hildegard Kinzel later submitted a citizens' petition to stipulate at least 70 percent housing on the site. But the new owner, a listed company from Canada, preferred to build a hotel and offices and only allow a smaller number of flats.

Nothing happened for a long time. In February 2020, the planning committee under the then Jamaica coalition of CDU, Greens and FDP therefore passed a statute establishing a right of first refusal for the City of Bonn over the ex-post office site in accordance with the Building Code. In addition, the politicians demanded a housing share of at least 50 percent. As a result, Lorac Investment Management S.a.r.l. sold the property on in July 2021 - for a whopping 19.6 million Euro, according to a confidential submission by the city administration. The new investor is Cologne-based SL AM Development Residential GmbH from the Swiss Life Group (see "Investor comes from insurance group"). "The purchase contract has already been notarised, but not yet executed," spokeswoman Maike Kolbeck informs us upon request. "Therefore, I hope for your understanding that we cannot say anything more at this point in time.“

Because first the municipality has to waive its right of first refusal. This is exactly what the city administration proposes in the confidential paper. If the responsible finance committee agrees, the city will conclude a so-called avoidance agreement with Swiss Life for the property. The investor has accepted the urban development goals and wants to build at least 50 percent housing, of which at least 40 percent is eligible for subsidies, according to the Bonn building land model. Swiss Life has announced that it will "build a larger proportion of flats than required", writes the administration. However, it is still unclear how many free rentable and social housing units this will actually be.

According to the draft, the investor undertakes to finance a day-care centre, to construct the buildings according to the "KfW 55" energy efficiency standard, to green the roofs and to install photovoltaics. For the development plan procedure, Swiss Life is to commission an urban planning office and carry out public participation.

Alois Saß (SPD) makes no secret of his delight at this development. The chairman of the planning committee does not comment on the non-public draft resolution. But he emphasises the goal of creating as many flats as possible on the large Nordstadt property. "If that succeeds now, and the investor complies with the specifications, we will have achieved a great success," says Saß. Rolf Beu (Greens) is rather sceptical about waiving the right of first refusal. Then there would be a danger that the "workshop-like participation procedure" desired by the citizens' committee would no longer be carried out, says the deputy chair of the planning committee. Beu: "In addition, this property would also lend itself to the urban development company demanded by the council."

Original text: Andreas Baumann

Translation: Mareike Graepel