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Le Grand Paris: Urban redevelopment on a major scale

Le Grand Paris:
Urban redevelopment on a major scale

by COLIN DYER, President & CEO, JLL | March 19, 2015

During my recent trip to Paris, I was on my way to our new office in La Défense when I was struck by the speed at which urban landscapes are evolving.

In an increasingly competitive global economy, cities need to respond to new urban, social, economic and environmental issues. New York, London and Tokyo offer examples of the considerable changes taking place. Paris is also one of the key players in this ever-shifting environment.

As globalization accelerates, cities need to bolster their international attractiveness to secure investment capital and highly qualified workers while warding off emerging new rivals.

Travelling across Paris really brings this home. The current development of new office districts to the north of the capital offers a glimpse of the enlarged metropolis that The Grand Paris is set to become. 

The project, which was introduced by Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007, is now fully under way. The strategic thinking behind it – the primary aim of which was to redesign a new metropolis – fits with this new reality of “world cities” in an increasingly global marketplace.

Grand Paris will see an unprecedented level of investment, with around €26 billion to be devoted to the scheme over the next 15 years. The key feature of the project is the creation of a new transport infrastructure: The Grand Paris Express. For employees, suburb-to-suburb journeys will be more direct, journey times reduced and quality of life improved. For companies, recruiting and retaining new talent will become easier. This new infrastructure will improve connections to Paris’s airports, while reinforcing the attractiveness of key economic hubs. 

The new network will create over 200 km of additional rail lines, equal to the size of the existing Paris metro. Not only local activity, but the structure of the city as a whole, will be completely transformed as a result.

Existing economic centers are being strengthened: La Défense to the West and the French “Silicon Valley” to the South, for example. Others are also emerging, such as the northern “Création” cluster or the southern “Biotech Valley.”

As the world’s third largest office market, Paris is already recognized for its transparent, mature and deep market conditions. As the city continues to reinvent itself, the Grand Paris scheme will confirm Paris’s position as a “world city” and take greater advantage of its highly trained workforce, excellent infrastructure and position at the center of Europe. This will continue to drive its appeal to investors and corporates alike.

The Grand Paris is currently the most ambitious project of its kind in Europe. As it unfolds, new investment opportunities will continue to appear for many years to come.

Based in Chicago, the author is President & CEO of JLL Inc., an integrated global real estate services and investment management firm with 200 offices worldwide, operations in 1,000 locations and 70 countries.

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