Thursday, July 22, 2010

Jein zum Stadthallenanbau!

B ack in March, this appeared on the cover of Heidelberg's free newspaper (click to enlarge any image in this post):

It shows the Heidelberg Altstadt from the north side of the Neckar, with a big change - the addition of that big modern box-like thing on the side of the Stadthalle, a Heidelberg landmark. Right now there's a little park where that box is sitting in the picture. The article says the design has been approved for the addition to the Stadthalle, and I didn't really read any further than that. Other than the fact that the photo was a little shocking - shocking enough that I saved it to share here - I assumed the addition was some kind of done deal. A really weird decision - I thought we all got over throwing up crap like that in the middle of nice old things back in the 50s or so - but done nonetheless. After all, this is the administration that put those jarring benches in last year.

Apparently a lot of other people were shocked when they saw it too. Since March, Heidelberg has exploded in signs and events for and against the addition, and there's going to be a vote about it this Sunday (July 25). There are handmade signs (oddly one on the Theodor Heuss bridge actually says "this sign is handmade" after imploring you to vote against the addition), parties and concerts to raise money against it, and a bunch of crap in our mailboxes. Even one of the local Italian delivery joints is asking us to vote against the addition (and then, after voting, order some salad from them):
There doesn't seem to be as much publicity in the pro-addition camp, but it's out there. They say it will save a lot of money over building something new in a less historical section of town, like near the Bahnhof. Other than that, I can't figure out what their arguments are. The most common sign just says it's "for the future" and this is illustrated by a young-Republican-looking blond guy frowning at the camera.

I don't think I can vote but haven't double checked that yet. Most of my German friends don't seem to care whether they build it or not. I guess maybe the mayor wants it in the Altstadt so they can have big meetings and stuff right there on the Neckar to show off the town to visitors. It's ugly. Seems they should be able to come up with something better.


  1. Last week's Stadtblatt had the opinions of various movers and shakers in the city on the project - obviously all in favour, after all Stadtblatt is the municipal government's propaganda outlet.

    In essence the problem boils down to a fourfold view. There's the mayor, who wants to put every single project in Heidelberg within a 1 km range of Bismarckplatz, in order to strengthen his supporters (the shop owners etc) in that area. There's the conservative parties' side, which just says OK because the mayor wants it.
    On the opposite end there's the SPD and Federal Greens* side, which are against it because the mayor cut off projects and policies of the previous SPD mayor when he was voted in (including building a conference center at the HBf...). And then there's the side of the Local Greens*, the Left and the various oddballs, which is being against anything that's built in their backyard. Because, like, that'd be a change.

    Where and what campaign posters spring up mostly has to do with power bases within the city, and the core area (Altstadt, Weststadt, Neuenheim) is basically Green territory.

    Oh, and no you can't vote - EU citizens only.

    *- Federal Greens and Local Greens split up over internal squabbles, and without that split would probably be the largest single party in Heidelberg.

  2. I don't get Stadtblatt anymore - I think they just decided not to deliver to us anymore when our road became a giant construction project. Would have been interesting to read the pro side. I guess I must be a leftie since the anti side seems so clear to me...

  3. You can read it online.

  4. eh, that link didn't come out complete.
    add ".pdf" at the end.

  5. I signed the B├╝rgerbegehren when they were collecting signatures a few months back, and I'll be voting on Sunday too.

    I think the most mind-blowing argument the CDU (?) is using pro the Statthalle in the old part of town is:
    Ein Standort um den uns die ganze Welt beneiden wird.
    Sure, like the envy of others is ever a good reason do to anything. How dumb is that? The envy of the whole world isn't going to make it look any prettier.
    Putting it into the Bahnstadt seems to make a whole lot more sense to me. It would be closer to the train station too.
    Hypothetically, I could say I don't care, I'm moving in a month anyway and leaving Heidelberg permanently (most likely), but I really think this would look awful, so I am going to go vote.

  6. And it's a ... no.

    Barely. Just 999 votes past the 25% minimum for passing.

    Wouldn't have passed in South and West of Heidelberg (minimum quorum not reached), while North (Neuenheim/Handschuhsheim) and Center (Altstadt etc) were basically the ones pushing the No through.

  7. Kato: Did you have an opinion on it?
    Thanks for the Stadtblatt link! I never thought to look for it online. In the last two days there seemed to be a big final advertising push from the 'yes' camp. I guess they got nervous.

  8. Whole Stadtblatt is online btw,

    I was in favour of building it.

    Not because i'd be in favour of the policies of our current mayor (quite the opposite in fact), but because we actually need that conference center.
    The "alternative" of tearing down the old Hauptpost across from the HBf to build one is just a smokescreen. Will never be built. This is Heidelberg after all - where any project takes 25 years of planning and discussion (the conference center and its possible location has been tossed about since the early 90s too).

  9. It definitely seems to be needed, and I don't know what the problem is by the Bahnhof, but it's clear from the history that there is one! I feel sorry that they spent so much work on this project to have it not pass, but I also think it's their own fault. I think it was the total combination of factors that killed it. If they would have put the building somewhere other than the waterfront, it might still have passed to have it in the Altstadt. (Maybe a tall Stadthalle over that parking garage they just built on Ploeck?) Or if they put it on the waterfront in any neighborhood except the Altstadt. Or if they had just gone with a more inspired design for the building and still put it where they wanted to - something that would just blend in more. Too bad there wasn't some middle option and the vote says they can't build ANYTHING there. Maybe a they can't build THAT THING there would have worked. ;)


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