Baar, 21.05.2019

Should this idyllic 17th-century property be renovated and listed or demolished to make way for new flats?

The journalist who wrote about this property for the Zuger Zeitung, Andrea Muff, said in her opening sentence that this property was no architectural gem, though others, namely the National Commission for Historic Monuments (EKD) in Bern, and the cantonal agency in such matters, disagree and have recommended the building at number 15a Leihgasse in the municipality be listed. They have the support of the Zug Cultural Heritage Association and the Zug Archaeological Society, too, both of whom took the matter to the administrative court after the cantonal government ruled it should not be listed.



The situation with this building is complicated in that it adjoins two other houses at numbers 16 and18 Rigistrasse. The original building on Leihgasse dates back to 1676-67 and was continually extended and linked up with the others over the course of the 19th century. Adding to this complication is the fact that there are three owners, number 15a Leihgasse, currently unoccupied, being owned by the municipality of Baar, number 18 Rigistrasse owned by the HLP Development AG company, and Barbara Ulrich owning number 16.


Both the municipality of Baar and the afore-mentioned development company do not want the properties listed, whereas Ulrich does. “This is something very close to my heart and I want very much this matter to be the subject of conversation in Baar,” she said, describing the great charm the building has, mentioning how it could be made into an inn, the three properties actually linked by a communal cellar. Indeed, she wants to start renovating the part of the cellar which is hers next year.


With the Zug Cultural Heritage Association (ZHS) and the Zug Archaeological Society on her side, all three have taken the matter to the administrative court in the hope of having the cantonal government’s decision not to have it listed overturned. Bearing in mind the EKD also supported its listing, Felix Koch, an architect and also a member of the board of the ZHS, failed to understand why the cantonal government did not want it protected, calling for all three properties to be listed, not least as they form one unit. “And it is important, too, that the people of Baar realise the historical significance of these buildings,” he insisted. He knows, too, that there are a group of people interested in preserving the buildings, though they are aware, too, of the cost of any extensive renovation, hence they are suggesting it could be used, with minimum outlay, for accommodation for apprentices or students, for example, while not excluding its use as an inn, too.


However, Stephan Häusler of the HLP Development company said the cost of this, not least ensuring it meets fire-protection standards, would be very expensive and that renovation in this way would not make economic sense, not that he was against restoration of old buildings for accommodation purposes per se, as the company’s portfolio showed. Speaking bluntly, he said he could not see any historical or architectural interest in the building his company owned, number 18 Rigistrasse, admitting the company had bought the property five years ago with the intention of building new flats on this centrally-located site. This remains their intention, but their plans cannot go ahead without Ulrich’s approval.


And it was shortly after the development company’s acquisition of number 18 Rigistrasse that Baar council acquired number 15a Leihgasse. “Granting listed status to this property is just not appropriate,” said mayor Walter Lipp, who declined to comment on whether he thought it should be demolished or not, adding that the council would await the judgment of the administrative court.