Number 14 - May 2014 
Key players in the belgian real estate industry are expected to meet next week

It is now just a few days until Realty opens its doors at Tour & Taxis, and organisers Artexis have revealed the current exhibitor and expected visitor numbers. Exhibition manager Gregory Olszewski has pointed out that from a standing start in 2008, this sixth edition would see the number of exhibitors at 124, a figure which is more or less in line with last year. Among newcomers are the cities of Alost and Mechelen, Wallonia Development, Jaspers-Eyers architects, Eaglestone and Visitor numbers are expected to be more than 6,500, double the figure for the first Realty and up by a few hundred on last year. There will be at least 150 international investors, which is some 50% up on last year’s figure of 96. There will also be a complete three day conference programme, with presentations taking place alongside the main exhibition area. In keeping with the current realisation among all those involved in urban planning that cities are for living in as well as working in, one of the keynote presentations will again be: ‘Booming Cities Blooming Cities’.



The Brussels office market is still restructuring
A noticeable decrease in take-up characterised 2013, with a total of some 330,000 m² in Brussels and its periphery, down by 17.5% compared to the previous year and substantially below the ten year average of around 500,000 m² annually. Despite the decrease in take-up, the vacancy level has stabilised at around 10%. Various factors appear to indicate an improvement in the vacancy situation for 2014: an improvement in the economic situation, even if it remains fragile, greater demand from the national and international public sectors, along with the low level of new buildings set to come to the market in 2014. An analysis and presentation of the main projects per business districts made by de Crombrugge & Partners.
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7 strategic zones for Brussels development
Setting out his vision for the development of Brussels during a major presentation at Mipim, Brussels Region Minister-President Rudi Vervoort outlined the seven strategic zones the government has identified : Reyers, Schaerbeek Formation, Josaphat, the Boitsfort horse racing circuit, Neo, the Tour & Taxis zone and finaly the canal. Speaking of some of the associated objectives, Rudi Vervoort said that 6,000 residential units needed to be built each year, some 80% of these by the private sector.
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Brussels Region creates 'Domain' for canal zone
Over the past couple of years, there has been a great deal of activity on what is referred to as ‘the canal zone’. The Brussels Region has been bringing some coherence to this issue with the publishing of its ‘Canal Plan’. The public authorities (the Region, the Port of Brussels and Citydev) are owners of some 313 hectares across the zone, making coherent action possible. The Region has therefore set up what it calls a ‘Domain’ to oversee development on the public part of the land. To enable this to happen, the zone has first been mapped out, taking into account other (private) developments underway on the remainder of the land. The overall plan also takes into account the heritage of the canal, including its port, its industry, its nature…
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Interview with Olivier Bastin, Master Architect
Guarantee architectural quality of projects
Olivier Bastin has been the ‘Master Architect’ for the Brussels Region for three years, and his mandate is drawing to a close in 2014. An ideal time to ask him about progress and in particular about the impact of the new passive standard.
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Antwerp market is waiting for new projects
The Antwerp office market is the second largest office market in Belgium after Brussels. Total stock is estimated at around 1,900,000 m² (excluding Mechelen) representing around 10% of total Belgian office stock. The Antwerp port activities and its role of as an international trading hub for diamonds are both important economic drivers. The decision to build the Oosterweel connection should help to solve the numerous mobility issues but the final planning for the realisation isn’t clear yet and works could last for almost a decade. In the meantime, the city risks losing attraction due to the lack of new appealing projects and the increasing mobility problems.
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Largest belgian real estate deal of 2014 closed by AG Real Estate … in Antwerp
A transaction which is currently the largest real estate deal of 2014 in Belgium, has just taken place. It is significant not just because of its size, but because it took place not in Brussels, nor in the current real estate ‘star’ – Ghent – but in Belgium’s second office market by size: Antwerp. The transaction saw AG Real Estate, the real estate arm of AG Insurance and the largest private real estate investor in the country, acquire the Kievit I site, a real estate complex located close to Antwerp Central Station. Serge Fautré, Chief Executive Officer of AG Real Estate has commented: “Concluding this transaction represents an investment whose solid revenues and long term value offer the group’s insured clients the security which is always at the heart of their preoccupations”.
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Ghent office market is in the winning mood
The Ghent office market once again performed very well in 2013. With a gradually expanding office stock of more than 1.4 million m², the Ghent office market represents the second office market in Flanders. Several large transactions took place in new office developments such as the Blue Towers located beside the new football stadium (Ghelamco Arena). Almost 90 % of the take up was situated in the south district, where most of the new developments are located. The vacancy level remains below 5% which is much better than other cities and is below the 6 % mark, generally recognised as sign of a well-balanced market.
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Liège office market returns to normal
With its office stock of some 485,000 m², Liege is the largest city in the Walloon region, accounting for almost half of all Walloon stock. Around 70% of the office stock is located downtown (left bank) mainly along the large avenues, such as Boulevard de la Sauvenière and Boulevard d’Avroy. Approximately 40 % of the stock involves second-hand buildings. Following a relatively good 2012, the Liege market was once again been characterised last year by weak take-up. This was essentially kept low by a lack of new product meeting current norms in terms of market expectations. However, local operators indicate that almost 200,000 m² are currently being envisaged in the medium term.
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Be part of the 'We are ready' Cocktail at REALTY - 14 May

Do you want to talk about your real estate project? Visit VK Architects & Engineers at REALTY. Year after year, the VK team comes up with original themes for their REALTY cocktails. The theme of this year's cocktail is 'We are ready'. With this intriguing novelty, VK is once again positionning itself as a trendsetter. Be sure to visit their stand (n°2210) and join them for a bite and drink, on 14th May starting at 4pm till closing time.The perfect occasion to talk about real estate, design, façade engineering, acoustical engineering, architecture,… but in a decent way.


The Federal State is rationalising the space within its buildings
The Belgian State Buildings Agency (Régie des Bâtiments/ regie der gebouwen) manages 1.311 buildings occupied by the Belgian State or operated on its behalf. This represents nearly 7,7 millions of square meters to take car of. The Agency has adopted a new strategy aiming to decrease the space allocated to each full time equivalent (FTE). The new standard sets out a surface area of 13.5 m² per corrected FTE. Dirk van Geystelen, Director General of Real Estate Strategy and Management, explained the strategy to us.
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Good semi-industrial and logistics owner-occupier transactions
Although the ‘offices’ sector is regaining some of the ground it lost within the overall real estate landscape during the worst of the crisis (and the most severe of the ‘self-reglation’ period), two other sectors which took on more importance are not going away. These are logistics and semi-industrial property markets. Walter Gossens - Head of Industrial Leasing at JLL - did the analysis to share with us how these segments are performing.
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An excellent vintage for investments in retail property
The healthy balance in the Belgian retail market between the three main segments (high street stores, shopping centres and out of town stores/retail parks) continues to attract an unprecedented number of investors. But this delicate balance is under threat. And in particular, the new regional retail permit legislation may result in a lack of dynamism and even a complete standstill in certain areas. 2012 was a record year for retail property, although even more sales were recorded for high street stores in 2013: 374 million Euros was an absolute investment record for this sub-sector. Jef Van Doorslaer -Head of Research for Cushman & Wakefield - is forecasting the evolution of retail market in Belgium compared to other European countries.
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Measuring the state of repair of buildings helps save money
The City of Mechelen owns some two hundred buildings of very wide-ranging types, sizes, ages and functions. Twenty of these are designated as large, including the Cultural Centre, the Municipal Theatre and the historic city hall. The desire for optimised maintenance and management of these assets has led to cooperation with a specialist partner. Through an overall picture of all the buildings, and more especially their exact current state of repair, the aim is to draft as optimal a long-term maintenance plan as possible with objectively determined priorities, so the buildings are maintained in the best possible condition in the future
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Camelot Vastgoedbescherming @ REALTY - 14 may

Meet Camelot at REALTY during the seminar 'Reducing Risks and Generating Revenues - How to manage your vacant properties and create social and economic benefits?' on 14th May. The seminar will be hosted by Mr. Yves Stevens, Director Camelot Vastgoedbescherming and Mr. Joost van Gestel, CEO Camelot Europe, and will help you to discover how to manage and control your vacant property issues.
Town planning and real estate market projects in the news

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The PRASD is approved, enabling a move to the
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Last office building sold >>>
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