Vincent Delwiche, general manager of Agora never had any doubts about the success of the Belval development.
Photo: the Agora development company.
The Agora development company was founded in 2000 for the purpose of revitalising former steel industry production sites in the south of Luxembourg, including the approximately 120 hectares of Belval. In a Q&A with Delano, Vincent Delwiche, general manager of Agora, hails the project a success.
Delano: What is Agora’s role in the Belval redevelopment?
Vincent Delwiche: Our tasks range from feasibility studies and analyses to tendering, support and updating of the material plan, infrastructure and development measures, to the successful marketing of building plots to private builders and investors and the complete location marketing. To develop a lively and functioning urban quarter like Belval means to develop 100 % urban space from 100 % industrial wasteland. This is an exciting task for us as a development company.
Delano: In you view, has the redevelopment been a success?
VD: We are convinced that we have succeeded with Belval. What was once 100% an industrial site is now 100% a city quarter--Belval is the new address in Luxembourg that offers a unique mix of work life/home life and enjoyment. An exemplary conversion project that is to offer housing for up to 7,000 people of all generations is being created on a site that is the size of 170 football fields in the districts of Esch-sur-Alzette and Sanem. At the same time, up to 20,000 people will be able to work, research and study in Belval. Everyone’s needs will be met: schools, shopping, leisure activities--Belval has everything, just a bike ride or a short walk away.
Delano: The redevelopment of the former industrial site is a massive project; did you ever have any doubts about its success?
VD: Belval is certainly one of the most ambitious urban development projects worldwide that is currently being built on a former industrial site. Developing a new, modern and functional urban quarter on a former steel production site with almost 100 years of history that can also cope with the urban challenges of the coming years is certainly a daunting task.
But, honestly, we never had any doubts. From the outset, the efforts of the State of Luxembourg to orient the country consistently towards the future, to diversify the economy and to focus on research, development and modern technologies have given the Belval project strong support and lighthouse character. This is also supported by the high level of government investment in the Cité des Sciences with its university and research buildings, the Lyceum and the Kannercampus in Belval Sud, which is currently under construction.
The great interest shown by private investors, which has accompanied us from the very beginning, has also given Belval strong support, as have the commitment of the two municipalities of Esch-sur-Alzette and Sanem, on whose territory Belval is located, as well as the commitment of ArcelorMittal, our second shareholder. With this support, we were also able to meet the various challenges that always exist in urban development projects of this magnitude and the economic crisis a few years ago and the associated crisis in the office market.