Young people are looking for urban centrality
By Baudouin Delaporte, Head of Real Estate Development.
The younger generations today are keen to be able to walk to work or go by bike or tram, as well as achieve a healthy balance between their private and professional lives and be part of a genuine community. That is what they are striving for in city centers, which are vibrant, bustling areas where nothing is more than a stone’s throw away.
For several years, we have been supporting businesses to move back into the center of Paris. The west of the capital continues to be very popular, but we can also see new areas emerging for new kinds of communities, like the arrondissements in central and central eastern Paris. As we wait for the Grand Paris project to be completed, which will create other core sectors – like the Plateau de Saclay for example – the main public transportation hubs continue to be focused in and around the city of Paris. When a company opens an office near a transport hub, it’s a great advantage when it comes to attracting talent. Companies occupying even the most state-of-the-art buildings will find it hard to convince potential employees to join if they are located deep in the outskirts of the city.
In the past, we were interested in business centrality. Nowadays, the focus has shifted to urban centrality, which includes not only work, but also leisure activities, the food industry and other services. Companies want to hire talented young people, who themselves want to work in an accessible area that isn't necessarily an exclusively business-oriented district. Employees feel it is essential to have a range of services close to their workplace, including a wide variety of restaurants and catering establishments, several metro and Vélib stations, housing options, homecare services as well as child day care and schools. This movement toward the city center has also been driven by new businesses and start-ups, which do not wish to lose their urban identity as they grow. They are looking for smaller, often quirky offices or coworking spaces that can be easily accessed by public transportation or on foot.
Paris brings together all these elements and is currently successfully exploiting this trend. Gecina, the renowned urban real estate group, is playing a key role in this substantial shift. Our residential and office properties are located in the most central districts of Paris as well as to the west of the city. For our offices and coworking spaces, we have favored the most accessible locations, such as Paris City’s central business district, la Défense, which is ranked as the fourth most attractive business district in the worldwide, and vibrant areas in the west of Paris, like Boulogne-Billancourt and Issy-les-Moulineaux, which are constantly being redeveloped especially around the new stations planned within the Grand Paris project. Also, 93% of our office portfolio is located within 400m of a public transport link. Our housing units and student residences are also very well situated, almost exclusively within Paris and in the surrounding Hauts-de-Seine department.
We firmly believe in this taste for centrality, and we will carry on developing our portfolio in these sectors. By buying out Eurosic in 2017, Gecina has acquired existing buildings in the 6th, 7th, 10th, 11th and 13th arrondissements in Paris, as well as five major projects that will be delivered in 2018 and 2019 in Paris and la Défense. We have also launched the “75 Grande Armée” project in the heart of Paris’ central business district located at the site of groupe PSA’s former headquarters. Furthermore, we have two new student residences in the pipeline along with a program of classic housing units, which will enable a great number of customers and rental clients to move back to the heart of the city.
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