City centre car park to stay closed for public

The Saint-Esprit car park has been closed since October 2020 for renovations. Now the government wants to reserve car park spaces for civil servants for the foreseeable future.   (Photo: Guy Wolff/Maison Moderne)

The Saint-Esprit car park has been closed since October 2020 for renovations. Now the government wants to reserve car park spaces for civil servants for the foreseeable future.   (Photo: Guy Wolff/Maison Moderne)

Works on the Saint-Esprit car park are set to finish mid-April but the underground parking facility will remain closed to the general public until 2023 or even later as the state is looking to block it for its employees.

On 19 October 2020, the Saint-Esprit car park closed for 18 months of works. Its reopening is uncertain though as another underground car park used by Luxembourg civil servants is to undergo refurbishment and the state wants to use Saint-Esprit during this time for its employees.

“We have received a letter from the ministry of finance indicating that the car park will not reopen before the end of 2023," said Patrick Goldschmidt, alderman for mobility at the City of Luxembourg. “The works will be completed at the beginning of April, but they need it so that several civil servants, who are using the car park under the Clairefontaine building, which will be undergoing work, can park there.”

The finance ministry manages parking facilities for the state and the letter came with another request, to rent 120 spaces in the Hamilius car park. 

City authorities are loath to block the more than 500 spaces at Saint-Esprit but their hands are tied as the facility is managed by Indigo, which in turn is owned by the state. For the Hamilius places, the ministry must negotiate with the city, which has a 75-year lease on the premises that are owned by an unnamed foreign sovereign wealth fund. 

Closed for 20 more months?

The works at Saint-Esprit include the renovation of stairwells, ramps, concrete slabs and floors, a new paint job, new lifts, and the renewal of the entire lighting system as well as some technical installations, for a budget of €6.5m.

The finance ministry confirmed to Delano’s sister publication Paperjam that it wants to use the Saint-Esprit for state employees, in addition to staff from the Chamber of Deputies, the Council of State and other public offices.

The car park under the Clairefontaine administrative building, called Saint-Maximin, is to undergo maintenance from 1 May for a period of 20 months. This requires “waterproofing, the installation of some 40 electric vehicle terminals, and protection in the event of fire,” a spokeswoman for the ministry said.

Motorists with a subscription to the Saint-Esprit car park should be able to return. These are “private people and companies”. Based on the number of subscribers, the ministry will determine how many spaces it will need. The spokeswoman could not immediately indicate how many spaces are being used at Saint-Maximin. Indigo, which manages the site, could not provide a number either as it is a private facility.

The ministry is considering whether to open the Saint-Esprit to the public in the evening, the spokeswoman said, and the city hopes to negotiate.

Boosting business

Goldschmidt suggested renting around 100 spaces at other parking locations in the city: the Bonnevoie swimming pool, Rocade, Neipperg, Wedell, Schuman roundabout, Knuedler, Place du Théâtre, and the stadium. Even if some of these are further from the centre, he said that state employees could take the free bus to their workplace.

The reopening of the Saint-Esprit to the public is essential for the economic activity of the capital, Goldschmidt said. “The restaurants and shops in the Grund had this date in their planning, which coincides with the reopening of the season.”

Another important car park in the centre, the Knuedler, also remains partially closed. Only 113 spaces have been available since the beginning of the year. 90 will follow on 1 May. An extension with 350 spaces is planned for September. The fully refurbished car park, which will have 750 spaces instead of 500, is expected to open in the second quarter of 2023.

This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.