After many years of consultation with the authorities involved, the owner Extensa has recently started his Special Zoning Plan which enables the development of many new projects. Peter De Durpel, COO of Extensa, guides us through the plans.
It has been buzzing for some time with new activity on the site, where large shipyards have been running in recent years. At the end of 2014 Brussels Environment, the Public Service for Environment and Energy of the Brussels-Capital Region, opened its new offices on the site. It became a sample of new, sustainable building technology, with a striking design that earned it the nickname “toaster”. Between this building and the Royal Warehouse an esplanade was constructed, with an underground car park. The construction of a park area was started at the back of the site. In the meantime, the final touches are being put to a new office building where, from the end of this summer, 2,600 civil servants from the Flemish government will be moving in, the ‘Herman Teirlinck’ building.
Over the past few months, the development of Thurn & Taxis has been gaining momentum. At the end of April, the Brussels government put its signature under the zoning plan (BBP) of the site, which was already approved by the city of Brussels at the end of last year. This allows the permits to be applied for a series of new development projects. In the coming years, work will be done on the further development of the left-hand area behind the Royal Warehouse. The eye catcher will be the layout of the immense covered space of the former cargo station, the Gare Maritime, adjoining the ‘Sheds’, which are already being used for exhibitions and exhibitions. Together with the Sheds and the Royal Warehouse, the Gare Maritime forms the historical logistics platform Thurn & Taxis. ” It concerns buildings of exceptional size and architectural quality, with a unique industrial atmosphere. Further developments of this part of the site are done in full respect for this historical heritage, “says Peter De Durpel from Extensa.
The renovation works on the Gare Maritime have meanwhile been started. Once the permit for redevelopment is obtained, the construction of the built-in volumes within this immense space is started. It will be an innovative campus, with a whole range of functions: offices, a fresh market, a food hall, green areas with space for urban farming, a central platform for temporary exhibitions, catering … In addition to the innovative workplace concept, it will also be a place for training, events, and also a new attraction for tourists. In addition to the Gare Maritime, an underground car park will be provided for approximately 900 cars. The ambition is to have this zone ready by the end of 2020, according to De Durpel.
Still part of the historical heritage, the Hotel des Douanes, located next to the Royal Warehouse, also gets a new lease of life. It is now used as an office building for the Publicis group, the international advertising agency that houses, among others, Duval Guillaume and Saatchi & Saatchi. After the move from Publicis to the Gare Maritime, Extensa will redevelop the building into a hotel with approximately 130 rooms. Incidentally, the nearby Hotel de la Poste is further redeveloped. Extensa already operates the ground floor for events and conferences in this former administrative center. The floors will now be further developed as a club with a restaurant and bar, seminars rooms, co-working, and a small cinema room for press conferences, company and product presentations, ..
Residential zone and business zone
At the back of the site, hidden behind the historic complex, is a residential zone. By the end of 2020, 650 apartments will be built in this zone, 80 senior flats, and a residential care center with 200 beds. De Durpel: “115 of the apartments have already been commercialized and delivered.” Extensa aims with the site an authentic and inclusive character and therefore does not build apartments reserved for the ‘happy few’.
GDP also requires Extensa to provide part of ‘conventional’ housing. A permit for the next phase has been applied for and is expected by the end of this year. After 2020, the right-hand side of the site, where the buildings of Brussels Environment and the Flemish Administration have already been built, will be further addressed. Here, more than 1,000 residential properties are planned, as well as an underground car park. The zoning plan also allows the construction of a high-rise building in this zone (up to 150 m).
Next to the site, adjoining the TIR zone, a business zone will be set up. These sites are already owned by the Port of Brussels. In it, the new Citroën garage, which moves from the iconic building, continues on to the canal to make room for the Brussels prestige project of a new museum. The local brewery “Brasserie de la Senne” also gets its place.
Central to the site is a park driveway that connects the harbor avenue with the future residential zone at the back. It also gives easy access to the park at the back of the site. It is a spacious green lung, for a total of 9 hectares. The most rear part of this green zone is already in use as a park, partly managed by Brussels Environment. Adjacent to this green zone is also a zone of almost 1 hectare colored for public facilities where the construction of a school is possible. The Thurn & Taxis site will also receive better access in the coming years. The eye-catcher will be the construction of a new bridge over the canal, for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport (in the first phase only buses). The so-called Picard bridge is an extension of the Picardstraat and will connect the Havenlaan to the Willebroek quay. The works, for which the permit was already delivered to BELIRIS, would start in early 2018. An adapted bus plan of both De Lijn and STIB will also contribute to an even better service.