December 25 2013

The Unwelcomed “Mini-Disneyland” of Puteaux, Île-de-France, France

A view of Puteaux, France.

Multiple Santa Clauses, candy and cookies, and a Christmas tree. Recently, the city council organized a festival for the inauguration of the “theater village” made up of about ten stores surrounding a fenced-in area overlooking Richard Wallace Boulevard, directly in line with what was supposed to be a “green area.” The grouping of buildings was done by Vinci on behalf of the city.

The 2,000 m2 of businesses belongs to the municipality, which rented out spaces to storekeepers chosen by the mayor. The mayor decided to dedicate the location to children, welcoming a toy store, a children’s clothing store, and pastry shops. A “family-oriented” restaurant is also planned, but it has yet to be opened. The works are, in fact, far from being finished. Thus, the underground parking lot is not open either. A portion of this parking lot will be public (116 spots), another part will be reserved for residents, and a final section will allow direct access to a Monoprix supermarket.

The project was launched in April 2008 by the UMP party. It was supposed to be inaugurated at the end of 2010. The construction has therefore been more than three years late. The cost for the city exceeds ten million euros, taking into account the businesses, public parking spaces, and planning for the Mars et Roty Street. By comparison, the town subsidy for the Office of Subsidized Housing is only 3.9 million euros for this year. Puteaux has therefore spent more than the equivalent of what is dedicated to public housing in two and a half years’ time for the construction of this commercial square of ten stores! Everything is a matter of priorities.

Boulevard Richard Wallace in Puteax, France.

We voted in favor of this project at its beginning in 2008 on the basis of what had been promised at the time. We were deceived by the mayor!

We were thinking that this would revitalize the drawing power of Wallace Boulevard, which had been negatively affected by the redevelopment of the roadway and the subsequent disappearance of parking spaces. “We want to favor small local business activity, essentially person-to-person businesses: There will be a cheese shop, tea room, a delicatessen, etc,” the mayor promised us in 2008. But five years later, we find ourselves with a Mini-Disneyland enclosed by a fence!

The taste in the architecture is questionable. And do stores nearly exclusively aimed towards children respond to a real need? No market study was completed.

For an investment so large (ten million euros), they should have done things professionally by asking the opinion of residents, local business owners, and specialists in implementing businesses. But, as always in Puteaux, the mayor does whatever he wants… with our money. All this is done while fooling the opposition, and therefore the residents, about the project underway.

Can there be any positive effects from such a development? What can local residents do to make the most of seemingly poor development choices that were made without their consent?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Marcus Khoury

Marcus Khoury is a recent graduate of the University of California Los Angeles, where he obtained a B.A. in French & Francophone Studies. Aside from his native Michigan, Marcus has lived in several states, in addition to France and Chile. Owing to his experiences with a variety of cultures, languages, and environments, he has always been keenly interested in how the exchange of ideas between different cities, regions, and countries helps to shape both physical and cultural landscapes. His linguistic background, in addition to his interest in the diversity of international urban environments and experiences, has led Marcus to fill the position of French Language Translator at The Grid, where he will be translating and presenting French language material involving environmental design.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 25th, 2013 at 9:00 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Government/Politics, Housing, Marcus Khoury, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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