The story of Equilis, a real estate development company, began in 2006. At the beginning, its activity was concentrated on retail projects in Belgium, but over time, Equilis diversified by setting up in six European countries with residential and mixed-use developments. Let’s take a look at the origins and evolution of the company with Carl Mestdagh, its founder.
Prior to the creation of Equilis, Carl Mestdagh was best known in the retail sector as a director and manager of Mestdagh SA. It was this position that led him to become interested in real estate:
“While working on the growth of the group, we started to do some real estate development. It became gradually more important, so we had to structure this activity,” says Carl Mestdagh.
A SIR (Société Immobilière Réglementée) called Ascensio was therefore created. At the same time, Carl Mestdagh also convinced his partners to diversify into real estate by founding a development and investment company. That’s how Equilis was born in 2006.
From retail to mixed-use projects
Initially, the company developed mainly retail projects in Belgium. Equilis quickly expanded its activities to residential and mixed-use projects. This diversification was necessary to ensure the company’s future, as the retail development sector proved to be quite limited. It was also the pleasure of developing real estate that prompted Equilis’ managers to turn to other types of projects.
The developer distinguished itself since the start in the residential sector by rehabilitating industrial wastelands such as the Papeteries de Genval in Belgium. In just a few years, this extremely polluted site has become a lively, intergenerational district combining housing, shops and residential services.
“Tackling brownfields was an opportunity at first, but then it has become a real mission,” says Carl Mestdagh.
“This work is often complex but also exciting, and rehabilitating such places gives much meaning to what we do.”
In addition to its diversification into residential projects, Equilis has also expanded internationally. The company now carries out projects in six European countries: Belgium, France, Spain, Poland, Germany and the Netherlands. This internationalization was fundamental for Carl Mestdagh because
“it offers a much higher and broader vision, which allows us to adopt a different and fair strategy in each country.”
Today, Equilis continues its European consolidation while remaining a human-sized company. Founder Carl Mestdagh says he is proud of what he has accomplished, and is equally motivated for the years to come and the challenges that remain.
“In real estate, there will always be things to do, and we will always have to be innovative in order to bring added value to all stakeholders.”
For Equilis, this added value is achieved through fair projects, adapted to the times and the territory in which they are located.