Number 08 - September 2012 - Market trends - Town planning - Real estate projects showcase  
Objective 2030 for Brabant Wallon : 38,932 residential units to be built
According to the Federal Planning Bureau, there will be 450,000 inhabitants in Brabant Wallon in 2030, against 386,785 on January 1st 2012. It is with this in mind that Laurence de Hemptinne of ‘Editions & Séminaires’ and Kim Verdonck, Head of Research at Real Estate Consultants CBRE, undertook a survey which was unveiled last week during a seminar which focussed on the major urban projects and real estate projects in Brabant Wallon allied to the future RER stations. From the survey it emerges that 38,392 new residential units will have to be built, which equates to 2,020 per year between now and 2030, in order to house these new inhabitants. Is that feasible ? To try and answer this, the survey’s authors compared actual constructions delivered over recent years with future needs.
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Signs of the ‘New World of Work’ in the OCI ?
A third consecutive year of stability for the OCI (Occupancy Cost Index) despite the fact that the cost of living index continues on its regular upward path. Do the new trends for decentralised working and office vacancy in Brussels have an influence on occupancy costs? Patrick Waûters, Director Facility Management Consulting at AOS Studley, provides some answers. In 2011, in Belgium the average cost of a workstation was 11,776 €. Within this figure, which takes into account 300 different cost centres, real estate and ICT represent the lion’s share: 40% and 36% respectively. They are followed, at some distance, by services and resources (19%). And yet although the current situation where energy prices are concerned and the increases in the cost of living index may lead us to fear an increase in the ‘real estate’ cost centre within the OCI calculation, what is being seen is a decrease of around 1% compared to last year.
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Brussels office market showing signs of recovery
The latest ‘on.point’ survey on the Brussels office market, carried out by Jones Lang LaSalle, reveals a market which has seen its vacancy level plunge to a four year low. A couple of years ago the consensus of opinion regarding the action to be taken to prevent vacancy rising further during the crisis, was that ‘self-regulation’ by the market was the answer. This appears to have happened, as speculative development, which would otherwise fuel further vacancy, is also historically low. Overall vacancy in the central business districts (CBD) now stands at 6.6%, the lowest since the last quarter of 2008, and in the Brussels market as a whole it is 11.1% – both figures down on the previous quarter. Vacancy in new buildings, positively affected by the lack of construction, is just 2.7%. Vacancy in the peripheral districts has also declined slightly, but from a substantially higher level.

KBC brings its personnel together in the KBC Artevelde Tower
On April 20th we raised a glass to the inauguration of the highest office tower in Flanders. Barely four months later, this 119 metre high tower, the new landmark of the city of Ghent, becomes operational under the name of the ‘KBC Artevelde Tower’ and now houses the administrative and support services of KBC Bank and KBC Insurance for East and West Flanders, previously spread very wide. The idea of consolidating the administrative buildings did not surface yesterday…! Back in 2007 a vast internal and external study had been carried out with a view to the centralisation which has now come into being. KBC has in the past gained a great deal of experience in such centralisation and optimisation moves in Brussels, in Leuven, in Mechelen and in Antwerp
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 Focus : Town planning and Land development

Urban rehabilitation at Liège Coronmeuse,
well beyond 2017 international exhibition

It was during the last Mipim fair in Cannes that the real estate element of the international ‘Liège 2017’ exhibition project really took off. Liège mayor Willy Demeyer is enthusiastic about this: “In November, whether the final decision of the International Exhibition Bureau goes our way or not, the new district project will take place. And the private partners who have been bold enough to commit to this with us will not regret it!” Caroline Thiry (City of Liège) and Jean-Luc Pluymers (Economic Redevelopment Group) unveil this major real estate project.
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Multi-modal transport hub on the way for Namur
The project for a new bus station in Namur has been adopted by the Walloon government. It will enable various modes of transport to come together on a single platform : car, bus and train. The new bus station will be constructed above the railway station by 2014. The entire district will benefit from this arrangement, because the arrival of the new bus station will mean reorganising all of the city centre traffic. Apart from the 50 million Euros allocated by the Walloon Region, the City of Namur is to invest 3.5 million Euros in the project, the SRWT 4 million Euros for the bus station alone. Good news for developers City Mall which is planning a retail centre on the site named Côté Verre.

Housing needs - Delta the 'social' answer to expensive canal-side?
There has been a great deal of activity around the canal in Brussels over recent months, with many developments (largely residential) being instigated to add to the major projects which are Tour & Taxis and Up-site. In an article in ‘Le Soir’ some further details involving this situation and the Region’s thinking on this subject have been given. The forecast rise in the population of Brussels is set at 140,000 by 2020, which represents more than 10% of the current population of the Region. It is believed that the land reserves currently held by the city are sufficient to provide housing for 28,000 of these. On top of this, the conversion of obsolete office stock into new housing (around 250,000 m² in total according to Cushman & Wakefield’s most recent estimates), could take care of almost 50,000 more people. In order to face up to what remains a substantial shortfall, the Region has designated six zones known as ZEMU’s which stands for Enterprise Zones in an Urban Environment.

RE:flex, a ‘New Way of Working’ workspace
RE:flex is a new kind of business center which opened end of june in the Mechelen Campus. Luc Feyaerts, Head of Asset Management at Intervest Offices & Warehouse, explains what is different : “RE:flex is much more than a business centre, concentrating on co-working and offering users an access card to the building and a range of facilities and services invoiced according to use. This could be compared to membership of a fitness centre, where the athlete decides which equipment he is going to use and which courses he is going to attend”. Steelcase was the partner for furniture and fittings of RE:flex. The most modern technology have been used which matches the New way of working. Each worker selects the work station required at all times, depending on the work to be carried out.

European Parliament buys Atenor's Trebel
The sale of the Trebel building at the beginning of the summer, which helped to boost the first half figures for the Brussels market, is of a certain significance in terms of the European institutions. The building, to be developed by Atenor, has been acquired by the European parliament, located just a couple of hundred metres away. For in light of the change of heart by the European Commission in terms of a possible expansion to the Delta zone, this transaction confirms that Europe – in this instance in the form of its parliament – is still heavily committed to the Leopold (European) district of Brussels.

Val Benoît ‘Company apartments’ in Liège
Thanks to a vertical configuration as ‘company apartments’, the 35,000 m² to be dedicated to economic activity on the future Val Benoît site will enable the equivalent of more than twenty hectares of land to be saved in a park on the periphery of the city. An innovative response to the chronic lack of terrain in business parks. This project will be located in the modernist (post-war) style buildings to be renovated at Val Benoît at the southern entry to Liège. The first companies will move in during 2016 according to the economic development agency of the province of Liège (SPI) and the project designers who have presented their layout plans for the Val Benoît site.

 Focus : Architecture and Design

Buro II - Archi+I receive ‘Bouwmeester Prize 2012’ 

The ‘Bouwmeester Prize’ is an annual competition by the Flemish authorities whose aim is to reward a work project falling within the framework of the undertaking of urban, landscape and architectural projects in Flanders. The prize crowns a service rendered and the process which precedes it. In the 2012 edition, two projects by Buro II and Archi+I have been honoured. The communal institution for help for the young in Beernem – ‘De Zande’ – has won the prestigious ‘Bouwmeester Prize’ for 2012 in the ‘Care’ category. Has also been honoured, the ‘Triamant Haspengouw’ project which is located in the rural village of Velm (close to St. Trond) and aims for ‘new housing’, accommodation for life for the young and not so young with a social fabric such as that which used to be found in village communities.

New World Of Work at Euler Hermes :
office design as driver for change

Euler Hermes recently moved three hundred metres from its previous offices in the Brussels European district. The workspace is quite unlike anything seen before – open, bright spaces with innovative seating concepts, no visible cupboards, no closed in offices… The ‘New Way of Working’ has now convinced the personnel. Euler Hermes Facility Manager Stéphane Vanbever underlines: “The old company culture tended to be somewhat static and rooted, and change sometimes needs to be forced a bit. The office design itself is a driver of change. Employees were wary at first, as is natural, but now they have real pride in their company and their places of work. I think it is true to say that we went for it 100% and for everybody”.
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Luxembourg still an attractive market >>

Grontmij designs Brussels metro depots >>

Office buildings : location is still king >>

Verviers 's Crescend’eau programme in major key >>

Brussels major printworks changes hands >>

New hitch for Trilogiport ? >>

Mons - new Atenor project in the New Station district >>



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