When the Greens, SPD, FDP and Volt meet in Frankfurt City Hall for the weekly coalition round, one topic is a fixed item on the agenda: the state of play at the Städtische Bühnen, the largest investment project in the coming years. Last Monday, head of the cultural department Ina Hartwig (SPD) reportedly had nothing to report.

Günter Murr

Editor at the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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Members of the coalition were all the more surprised that Hartwig invited to a press conference the following Thursday, in which she announced that the new construction variant "Kulturmeile", favored by many local politicians so far, could not be realized. Instead of a new opera building on a plot of land belonging to the Sparkasse in Neue Mainzer Straße, Hartwig's preference now lies in the mirror solution, i.e. a new building for the Schauspielhaus in the Wallanlagen on Willy-Brandt-Platz.

"An incredible amount of money"

There is a lot of sympathy for this in the coalition, only a few voices can be heard that do not want to give up the cultural mile. A decision has not yet been made, and the replacement of the previous double system by a new building is still in the running. The SPD has already clearly positioned itself in the Römer.

"We think the proposal of the head of the cultural department is very good," said parliamentary group leader Ursula Busch in an interview with the F.A.Z. "The mirror solution is the best." Building on someone else's property involves many risks, she argued against the cultural mile. In addition, this solution would entail a further delay, which would increase costs. The construction of a new double plant is also "not an optimal solution."

For a cultural institution, an intervention in the ramparts is justifiable, says Busch. Especially since there is even an increase in green areas with the mirror solution. She points out that a green square is being created between the theatre, the opera and the Jewish Museum, which will help to cool off the hot city. She described the investment costs, which are now estimated at around 1.3 billion euros, as "an incredible amount of money". But it will not be possible to avoid spending it. "Culture is also an important location factor for Frankfurt."

The largest coalition partner, the Greens, relies on a participation of the federal government and the state in the costs and the ongoing operation of the stages. They have not yet decided on the question of location. Hartwig's report will first be analyzed, said cultural policy spokesman Uwe Paulsen. A decision will be reached before the summer break.

"An unnecessary amount of time has passed"

For FDP parliamentary group leader Yanki Pürsün, finances are the essential basis for decision-making. "For me, it's important that we get reliable figures." A vote for the more expensive variant is then difficult for him to imagine. No problem for Pürsün is the development of the ramparts. "There is an opportunity to upgrade the area."

The opposition CDU also shows sympathy for the Spiegel solution. "We support this," said cultural policy spokesman Christian Becker. It had been foreseeable for some time that the cultural mile could not be realized because of the high land costs. "That wouldn't have had to be checked at all." But so an unnecessary amount of time went into the country. As a result, costs have also risen. A solid financing concept must now be presented and the state must also be brought on board, Becker demanded.

Torsten Becker, chairman of the urban planning advisory board, still considers the cultural mile to be a "captivating urban development idea". But it does not make sense to hold on to solutions that cannot be realized. The mirror solution also has its charm. It is important to move the spectacle in the ramparts as far west as possible so that the passage between the new building and the Eurotower does not become too narrow.

For this purpose, one could use a lane of the Gallusanlage. Becker considers the intervention in the ramparts to be justifiable. However, the new building must not become a foreign body. It would be conceivable for him to create an experience space with green roofs. Moritz Kölling, Chairman of the Association of German Architects, welcomes the decision in favour of the Willy-Brandt-Platz location. "However, we still believe that the existing building should be preserved."