Reinventing Paris: the French capital to turn 60,000sqm of offices into housings

Published by Elodie D. · Photos by My B. · Published on 10 February 2021 at 12h26
Paris officials make the most of Covid crisis to turn offices into housings. Tati Barbès store, Renault garage on Quai de Grenelle, PSA garage on Avenue de République. This Tuesday February 9, 2021 Emmanuel Grégoire has announced major transformations in Paris and urges property owners to propose their property to sale as part of the “Réinventer Paris” project. A win-win situation, the elected representative says.

A raid likely to make Anne Hidalgo happy. A dozen players have decided to give their commercial buildings and transform them into housings, answering Paris officials’ call for project. As the French capital is experiencing housing shortage, this breath of fresh air is expected to lower the pressure and “restore balance in districts”.

During a press conference, Emmanuel Grégoire – principal Deputy Mayor in Paris entrusted with urban planning, architecture, Greater Paris and transformation of public policies and relationships with arrondissements has presented the first 6 projects related to this call for project called “Réinventer Paris : transformer des bureaux en logements” [Reinventing Paris: turning offices into housings], namely 60,000sqm of housings that will be made available again. According to the elected representative, there is no quantified target, but he excepts to get between 700,000 and 800,000sqm of offices back in the coming years. By comparison, between 2001 and 2014, 378,000sqm of offices have been turned into housing, and 350,000sqm during Anne Hidalgo’s first term.

This call for project comes along at just the right time: the office need is as intense as for housing. Grégoire admits that only 1% for the 16 and 18 million sqm park was vacant before the crisis, the APUR says, but the “Covid crisis raises questions and slows the demand for office downs. The fear of not being able to rent offices again is real”. The city hall makes the most of it and makes it possible to meet the housing issue at the same time.

The idea of this call for project is not for the city to buy buildings. No, it is more about accompanying sellers and buyers, supervise projects, and select the winning project. For each project, a jury including owner representatives in majority proportion; city representatives and experts in architecture and urban planning will select the project and grant planning permission. Of course, the city hall will make the most of it to highlight developers who will comply with the vision of the city of tomorrow, emphasizing affordable housing.

During the presentation, 6 buildings have been proposed on sale: AP-HP headquarters (25,000sqm on Avenue Victoria), Tatie Barbès (6,500sqm), Renault garage (10,000sqm on Quai de Grenelle), PSA garage (Avenue de la République), university facility (19 rue des Bernardins), electric distribution center (rue d’Aboukir). For each of these places, the city hall has different goals. Here, 30% for social housing, there 60% for social housing and ancillary activities. And under cover of providing its expertise to property developers, it assures it will comply with “a very high level of exigence in terms of construction material, and preservation of the existing structure – including the heritage and historic dimension” and a way to put “the main guidance of the bioclimatic local urbanism plan initiated” into practice.

Réinventer Paris : transformer des bureaux en logements” call for project is the third one. In the past, Paris city hall already launched call for transforming basements and Seine riverbanks area, which had been more or less successful.

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