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Settlement sum of one million Euros: City of Bonn wants to pay up in Metropol dispute

Settlement sum of one million Euros : City of Bonn wants to pay up in Metropol dispute

The longstanding listed buildings dispute surrounding the former Metropol cinema, which now houses the Thalia bookshop, is drawing to a close. The city is advising local politicians to settle for a price of one million Euros.

The longstanding listed buildings dispute surrounding the former Metropol cinema is drawing to a close. The city administration is advising local politicians to settle with the investors, who converted the building on the Marktplatz into a bookshop.

The price to be paid by the local authority is one million Euros, as stated in a confidential draft resolution to be voted on by the finance committee on Tuesday and by the council on 6 July. It is still uncertain whether there will be a majority for the settlement suggested by the Bonn district court.

The opposing side, the property management company Metropol GmbH, has already signed. “I am not at all happy with the outcome,” said Bonn businessman Klaus Töpfer, who carried out the project with partners. “But I will soon be 70 and I simply no longer want further, lengthy proceedings.” If the council also agrees, it will be the end of a political issue that caused a stir in the city ten years ago.

Töpfer and his partners bought the poorly attended cinema in 2005 for around 3.1 million Euros after a forced sale. They applied to have the building’s listed status removed. There was an outcry from residents and 47,000 signatures were collected to rescue the Art Deco cinema.

The city administration refused the investors’ application. However, they finally won after the case went through several courts. In the end, only the facade of the Metropol was classified as listed and had to be preserved. Thalia has leased the building since October 2010. It was sold in 2011 to an insurance company for around 19 million Euros.

Töpfer & Co demanded damages from the city for the years long delays and consequent increased building costs. The Higher Regional Court in Cologne agreed in 2012 and since then the local authority and investors have been arguing about the actual amount.

Töpfer does not dispute that the Metropol project was profitable despite the dispute with the city. “But I also like the result,” emphasised the Bonner. “It has probably become the nicest book shop in Germany.” There are lots of details that remind people the building used to be a cinema: the red curtains where the screen used to be; the lamps on the walls; the old ticket office; and the blue chairs in which customers can comfortably browse books. “It is a real crowd puller because of its special atmosphere,” reports shop manager Stefanie Willaredt. “There are even tour guides who come.” Thalia Bücher GmbH says the Bonn bookshop is one of its most successful in the Rhineland.

Original text: Andreas Baumann. Translated by Kate Carey.