In 2010, Equilis embarked on the rehabilitation of the Papeteries de Genval, a project that would mark a turning point in the history of the real estate developer and the Belgian municipality. The transformation of this industrial wasteland into a mixed-use neighborhood was a major challenge, and the project has become an example of land reclamation.
By purchasing the former site of the Papeteries de Genval, Equilis also acquired a site that is steeped in history and has a great deal of responsibility. The paper mill has been part of the Genval landscape since 1904 and has contributed to the employment of thousands of workers and employees for several decades. However, after the paper mill ceased operations in 1980, the buildings quickly fell into disrepair and were left as a wasteland of approximately seven hectares.
When Equilis took possession of the site, everything had to be reimagined and recreated. At the time, there was little talk of revitalizing industrial sites, but the real estate developer and the local authorities worked together effectively to bring this ambitious project to fruition. From the outset, the decision was made to transform the former production site into a mixed-use urban district with 390 homes, 15,000 m2 of retail space and a residence for the elderly with 101 units.
Special attention to the environment
The revitalization of the Papeteries de Genval is not only about the construction of new buildings with new functions; it is also a project in which environmental management and respect were central. Long before the first stone was laid, several years were needed to prepare the conversion of the site, to clean up and depollute it, and to update a watercourse that was buried.
Today, the old industrial buildings have given way to a landscape composed of small buildings punctuated by environmentally friendly urban developments: lawns, walking paths, hanging gardens, green parking, etc. These green spaces promote both quality of life and the integration of the project into its environment, which includes a Natura 2000 classified area. The sustainable aspect of the neighbourhood is also reflected in its low-energy apartments, photovoltaic panels and green roofs.
A source of inspiration
The first occupants of The Papeteries de Genval began moving in during 2015, and the project is gradually coming to an end with the completion of the third and final construction phase. The homes and shops have quickly found buyers, but the result of such a project is not only measured by its commercial success.
Rather, the greatest success of the Papeteries de Genval is the one that can be observed on a daily basis: a lively neighbourhood, local businesses for locals and residents, different generations meeting, jobs created, etc. For Equilis, this first major revitalization project has shown how it is possible to transform wastelands and reinvent them into new urban neighbourhoods that will be tomorrow’s residences.