Bonn For project planners, the basement is the heart of the Maximilian Center at Bonn Central Station. The underground shopping arcade opens at the end of April.
Every day around 100,000 passengers arrive at Bonn's main railway station. From there they continue by bus and underground or walk to the city centre. "This is one of the most frequented places in the city," says Moritz Tank. The project manager at real estate company Ten Brinke is on line 16 and is holding on to the yellow poles in the cabin. It's not worth sitting down when he travels from the Bonn office at the Juridicum to the main station - the journey takes two stops and just under five minutes.
When he gets off the train, he has "the heart" of the new Maximilian Center that he is looking after right in front of his eyes: The underground shopping arcade that is to open at the end of April. No matter where the people come from: Almost every way leads past the future shops. Two tunnels connect the Deutsche Bahn tracks with the city. The trams stop one floor below. A third passage, the actual shopping arcade, ends with a ramp at the bus station. This promises good business - above all because there is public traffic around the clock.
"Which is also independent of the weather," says Tank. Over the past few days, Tank has come by more often to take a look at the progress on the construction site. So far, the average citizen only sees that the so-called station forecourt on Maximilianstraße is paved with light grey stones through the coarse meshes of the construction fences. The beige-coloured facade with its large, reflecting windows has been finished for some time.
Inside, the Primark fashion chain has been in operation for a week now: the company plans to sell textiles at competitive prices on three floors starting in autumn. Despite criticism that keeps coming up again and again, Primark is regarded as a magnet for customers. However, the furnishings will not differ from those in the other stores.
Living in Bonn for many years
"What's most exciting is what happens underneath," Tank says. He has lived in Bonn for many years and knows the old southern development, which was completed in 1978 and demolished in 2017, only too well. "That was quite derelict, it wasn't nice." With the Maximiliancenter this is supposed to change. A high proportion of gastronomy will ensure the quality of the customers’ stay. "But that also presupposes a certain small-scale nature.“
How small, two figures reveal: On an area of just 3000 square metres, 22 shops are being built. The largest tenants in terms of space are Rewe, the drugstore dm and the fast food chain KFC - "the basic structure of important brands", as Tank calls it. There are also Backwerk, Le Crobag, a kiosk, a pharmacy, Dean & David, an ice cream parlour, branches of "Pommesfreunde", "Haferkater" and Wonder Waffle, the Pizzeria Kiss and two Asian restaurants, including "Hotalo".
The tenants’ list also includes a shoe shop and a nail studio. Theoretically, they are allowed to open 24 hours a day. Fevzi Salici, who opens with "Essah Anatolia“, a snackbar with kebab and oriental specialities, finds the mixture good - even if there are too many bakeries for his taste. "Finally this construction eyesore is gone, that is a good deed for Bonn", he says.
And it shows a lack of understanding bythe critics who wanted to preserve the area around the neighbouring Bonner Loch. Salici was one of the many owners from whom Ten Brinke bought the southern development. The man from Düsseldorf used to rent out a shop, but now he rents it himself - and promises himself a good deal "because people will love being here". The shops will have no walls facing the passage, but either large glass facades that can be completely folded in, or roller shutters that can be raised.
High demands on building technology
This places high demands on the building technology, which is already installed just like the lifts and escalators. "All the fumes from the cooktops in the restaurants have to be extracted," explains Tank. Actually, the planners would have liked to have set the ceilings even higher - just under a metre is required for the technology. Nevertheless, passers-by will have more headroom in future than before. That's because Ten Brinke had the former ceiling removed and built in a new one. The light shaft has disappeared; instead, LED spots bring light into the passage.
This is reflected in light grey tiles on the floor and stone slabs on the walls. One detail that Tank says has been much discussed is the bird's nest-like ceiling panels made of fine metal strips suspended between the white panels. "Real design material," he says. The people of Bonn will be able to take a look at it by the end of March: Ten Brinke will then put the staircase to the tunnel between the main railway station and the city centre into operation, which means that the current temporary scaffolding will become obsolete. There will be no opening ceremony. "We'll stick to a quiet opening for now." It will be lively and loud anyway.
(Original text: Nicolas Ottersbach Translation: Mareike Graepel)