Number 03 - September 2011 

From left to right, the three Regional Minister-Presidents : Rudy-Demotte (Wallonia), Charles Picqué (Brussels Capital) and Kris Peeters (Flanders)
Do politics impact on real estate choices ?
Regional politics have been very much in the news in Belgium since the elections of some 15 months ago. And very recently, this issue came to a head with the agreement to split ‘BHV’. But will this political decision have any repercussions in terms of the real estate market? Quoted on the website of Metropolitan Brussels, in advance of a symposium on this subject at which he is to speak, Bruce Katz, Vice President Brookings Institute, Washington, and former advisor of the Obama administration, gives us an opportunity to step outside of what sometimes appear to be the very parochial confines of ‘the Belgian situation’, and consider some thinking from a larger federal state – the United States: “We must move as quickly as possible to change the mental map of our nation from a constitutional union of 50 states to an economic network of highly connected, hyper-linked, and seamlessly integrated metropolitan areas”.
However, stepping back into Belgium, it is clear that companies or organisations looking for a location will have to consider a number of factors, particularly following ‘BHV’. Firstly, there is financial compensation apparently being allocated to Brussels, although no real details on this can yet be taken for granted. Any such compensation could possibly change the tax regime discrepancies between the regions. But how much importance does this have in choosing a location?





A saving of 50,000 m² from workspace reorganisation at Dexia Bank
The recent banking crisis acted as a cost-saving trigger in many ways, and the bank’s response has clearly been robust. Dexia set itself the objective of making overall savings amounting to € 600 million within three years. In the area of the use of buildings, the recurrent contribution to this cost saving is set at € 19million. To achieve these savings, a substantial programme of new workplace organisation, with desk sharing at its heart, has been put in place. Along with the cost savings come space occupation savings. Some 50,000 m² out of the original total of just over 205,000 m² eventually being shed, with the knock-on effect on market vacancy that this may have.

Secondary markets performing well
DTZ has taken the opportunity of the summer break to produce a report on the state of Belgium's secondary office markets. While the activity levels in the capital have suffered greatly during the economic crisis, those in the provincial markets have fared much better. With half year take-up of 90,000 m2, the performance remained in line with the average over the past ten years. It may be surprising to note that leuven is the secondary market with the highest rental level (€155/m2/year), thus beating Namur into second place (prime rent €149/m2/year) and keeping the most obvious candidate in the eyes of many, Antwerp, in third place at €145/m2/year.

Logistics and semi-industrial markets set to fall
Real estate advisor Jones Lang LaSalle has presented a survey on the current state of the Belgian logistics and semi-industrial market. This reveals a positive performance over recent times, but strikes a cautionary note ‘Can it last?’ JLL Head of Industrial and Retail Leasing Walter Goossens, started by confirming that the Brussels-Antwerp axis continued to dominate in logistics, accounting for around two thirds of all take up. In terms of total take-up across the two markets (semi-industrial and logistics/warehousing are considered separately), the first three quarters of 2011 have already recorded a figure some 25% higher than for the whole of 2010. And on the investment market, the improvement is even more spectacular.


Seminar 'The shopping centres of the future and the outlook for retailing to 2020'
12/10, Brussel - Jacques Thierry ING Auditorium

Congress 'The Northsea Real Estate'
30/09, Knokke-Heist - Cultuurcentrum Scharpoord

04 > 06/10, Munich Trade Fair Centre

Seminar 'Stakes for environmental certification for buildings'
04/10, Brussel - CIVA

Seminar 'Retail activities and retail real estate development in the city centres'
06/10, Ghent - De Oude Vismijn

Symposium 'Development of Brussels Metropolitan'
17/10, Brussel -SQUARE meeting centre

MAPIC, international retail real estate market place
16 > 18/11, Cannes - Palais des Festivals

Lunch & Debate 'The Office of the Future’
08/12, Genval - Château du Lac

Visions or utopias ? >>

 Focus on real estate development projects

Atenor puts Namur in the spotlight
with the 'Port du Bon Dieu' >>

The major renovation of Science 15-17 is designed to fit into the objectives of the ‘Projet Urbain Loi’ >>

E-lite goes green and receives permit >>

Artesis University College Antwerp will be the keystone of the Spoor Noord development >>

'Eilandje' takes another step forward
The major redevelopment programme for the banks of the Schelde just to the north of Antwerp, have taken another step forwards. Project developers Cores Development and Builprom have announced a new project for the ‘Cadixwijk’ zone of the project which is known as ‘Eilandje’. On a surface area extending to 40,000 m², this latest project will be in keeping with the whole of the Eilandje zone, in that it will contain a mixture of residential accommodation, offices, shops, green areas, a service centre, and serviced apartments.

Lavoisier - a new way of thinking?
The Brussels Regional Development Association (SDRB) caused quite a stir in the real estate world in June when it inaugurated ‘Lavoisier’ the former British American Tobacco factories located in Molenbeek, Brussels, at very low prices – from just €60/m²/year – well underneath any other rents on offer. Part of the site is also converted to housing. Alongside this very low rent, Lavoisier also offers a number of other advantages, including within the ecological domain, and this has already enabled the building to find a tenant for part of its space :Techem Caloribel has taken 1,700 m² over two floors.

Cushman opens in Luxembourg
Property Advisor Cushman & Wakefield has announced that it has opened a new office in Luxembourg. Cushman & Wakefield has been growing its business in the Grand Duchy for around two decades, but until now this has been handled from the Brussels office. Whilst offering services and advice across the full range of real estate sectors, C&W has always been particularly strong in the retail sector, and is the leading company in this domain in Luxembourg.

BMW expands in Brussels
BMW has announced that it is to build a new centre at its existing ‘Evere Square’ premises on the Chaussée de Louvain in Brussels. The philosophy behind the new centre is to be able to take advantage of the substantial potential for sales of premium brand cars in the European district of Brussels. The new premises are set to be open by the end of 2013, a date which coincides with the marketing of the new BMW ‘i’ range of electric vehicles.

Further subsidies available for ground cleansing
While major projects such as Tour & Taxis, Up-Site and Tivoli may take the spotlight, it is sometimes forgotten that there is much ‘donkey work’ to be done in preparing the various plots for their new designations. With this in mind, the City of Brussels, via its environmental agency IBGE, subsidises some of the work required to cleanse the land to be used for new projects. Under the label ‘Brussels Greenfields’, organisations are invited to submit project proposals for such cleansing activities, in the hope of being granted up to 75% of the costs of cleansing land.

Significant investment transaction
in Louise district

Property advisor Anixton has successfully completed an investment transaction to Belgian insurance company Integrale, for a sum in the region of 21 million Euros. The Drapiers Building amounts to 9,000 m² and is let to the European Defence Agency under a lease which was recently extended by a further 13 years. This transaction would appear to confirm the renewed attraction of the Louise district both for occupiers and investors.

New destination for Solvay complex
One of the most iconic building complexes in the uptown area of Brussel is to be put to a new use. For over a hundred years chemicals group Solvay has occupied the buildings located on a plot to the east of the Avenue Louise. Now, Solvay is regrouping its activities at Neder-over-Hembeek in the northern Brussels periphery. The company has therefore mandated property advisor CBRE to establish a strategy for selling the building complex, which extends to a total of almost 40,000 m²


Ghent real estate market |
Huge investments in new projects

With a total stock of 1,36 million m², the Ghent office market represents the second office market in Flanders and the third in Belgium in terms of existing stock. Local and regional companies currently dominate the office market, but this is likely to change in the future. For the past 2 years, an increasing number of companies from the Brussels region or from abroad have been choosing Ghent for their new headquarters.
Download the report >>

Environmental Legislation |
From brownfields to green

Rehabilitative obligations will no longer slip through the cracks, as measures have been have tightened. The transfer of actual rights over land, even that presumed to be contaminated, the application for an environmental permit or the cessation of a risky activity are all events requiring management or remediation of polluted land, on pain of being unable to make the transfer.
Download the report >>

Liege real estate market |
Demand waiting to be satisfied

Liege has an office stock estimated to ± 470.000 m². Approximately 40 % of the stock involves second-hand buildings. The demand for offices of good quality is substantial in Liege but there is a serious lack of offer meeting the needs of current occupiers. Due to a lack of quality buildings, some firms have no other choice than to install in residential premises transformed into offices.
Download the report >>

Impact of multimodal transport on industrial property development

More and more shippers are under pressure from stakeholders to make their logistical operations CO2 neutral. The use of inland shipping and rail can help reduce the number of kilometres per lorry, with the advantage of the ensuing drop in CO2 emissions for the whole route. Antwerp has a very large hinterland that can easily be served by rail.
Download the report >>

Town Planning | Tivoli rehabilitation project : extending the Brussels canal zone

The Tivoli mixed complex will benefit from € 14 million of financing from the Feder, with the remainder coming from the PPP. It is located in a dense and already high mixed-use zone close to the North Business District and Laeken cathedral. It will comprise seven new residential blocks, totalling some 52,000 m² and providing 578 residential units.
Download the report >>

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