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The neighborhood of Montparnasse is going to change

While the tower is undergoing a 300-million-euro renovation, the surrounding area of Montparnasse is playing catch-up. The mayor of has announced a consultation to “profoundly change ” the 15th arrondissement neighborhood.

The plan to bring the 9-hectare area into 2018 aims at repairing the “trauma of the urbanism of the 1970s” according to Anne Hidalgo, mayor of the city.

Without even mentioning the 210m-tall skyscraper that many locals argue knocks thousands off their home’s value, Montparnasse is said to have gotten the short end of the stick in urban development over the last few decades. The main junction is incredibly confusing to both pedestrians and motorists and its most pleasant green space, the Jardin Atlantique, is hidden in between towering office blocks. Add the skyscraper and you wonder what urban planners have had against the neighborhood during their tenure.

“We need to create a new urban fabric that is coherent with ian urbanism more widely,” said Gilles Vuillemard, head of the tower’s 209 co-owners and commercial lessors.

The city hall’s response? “We’re going to completely change the landscape and get rid of the mall (referring the the one at the base of Montparnasse Tower), allowing people to walk in fresh air from the rue de Rennes to the SNCF train station,” added Jean-Louis Missika, assistant in charge of urbanism.

A public consultation will involve four teams, made up of architects, landscapers, commercial and transport specialists, entering into a “competitive dialogue” with the city hall and Vuillemard’s association about exactly how the neighborhood should be developed. The four finalists will be chosen from the many entrants this month before the winning team decided upon in 2019.

It will then, in partnership with city hall, help oversee how several different projects – underway and approaching – achieve the common goal of bringing Montparnasse on par with ’ most revered neighborhoods (think Saint-Germain des Pres, le Marais, Quartier Latin, the up-and-coming Canal Saint-Martin). It will be able to propose new public spaces as well as new real estate developments, be it residential, office or commercial.

“We’ll need to make sure all these projects are coherent and coordinated between public and private interests,” added Missika.

For example, the station is already undergoing renovation to adapt to a 50% increase in its traffic to 55 million visitors annually. Nearby sister tower Tour CIT and the Gaite-Montparnasse shopping mall are both already undergoing refurbishment. The tower is preparing to undergo its development while the mall’s is already underway, being overseen by Dutch architect Winy Maas. New Leclerc and Ikea outlets will feature in the finished project.

“We’ve got a game-changing idea: prolong the rue de Rennes all the way until the station and re-discover an ian urban layout, unearthing what is underground to end up with the same volume of commercial outlets but on the street level instead. Sure, it’ll be complicated, but its do-able and the objective is for now one to be hard done by.” added Missika.

The private sector is going to be the machine behind the project, with funding raised through the sale of planning permissions. While not explicitly outlined by those involved, it has been indicated that the aim is to have transformed the area by the time the Olympics come to in 2024.

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