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Malpassé Neighborhood in Marseille, France Faces Redevel...

Malpassé Neighborhood in Marseille, France Faces Redevelopment and Evictions

Among the fourteen urban redevelopment projects in Marseille, France, the one in the Malpassé neighborhood has been the most sizeable since it was launched in 2010 by the City of Marseille, the National Agency of Urban Renovation (ARNU), and public sponsors. However, the neighborhood’s urban redevelopment project has been built on a foundation of anger, with

View of Marseille, France shows low-income housing buildings in foreground with the rest of the city spread behind, the sea visible on the left

Among the fourteen urban redevelopment projects in Marseille, France, the one in the Malpassé neighborhood has been the most sizeable since it was launched in 2010 by the City of Marseille, the National Agency of Urban Renovation (ARNU), and public sponsors. However, the neighborhood’s urban redevelopment project has been built on a foundation of anger, with renters accusing officials of unfairly forcing relocations.

On November 17th a guided visit was held in this neighborhood of the 13th district in order to show off the previous four years of work and the numerous buildings that were finished during this time, or are still underway. The area saw the restoration of social housing buildings, demolitions, and new constructions. “We are now beginning a project of constructing 136 new housing units,” begins the general manager of Habitat Marseille Provence (HMP), Jean-Luc Ivaldi. He specifies that they will have “soon finished the relocation of all of the families affected by demolitions, some seventy renters.”

Since 2011, the new Avenue Raymonde Martin has already made the Malpassé neighborhood more accessible. The road has also provided access to the new buildings constructed by Amétis, including a departmental solidarity house and a nursing home. The demolition of buildings M and N of the Cèdres Nord complex has also been completed. Still to come is the reconstruction of the existing Barre des Lauriers building into 400 residences, as well as the beginning of work on 136 social housing units in Cèdres Nord, where construction is expected to end in 2016.

Arlette Fructus (Deputy to the Mayor in charge of Urban Redevelopment), HMP representatives, and Marseille’s urban renovation public interest group, led the tour of the work site. The only shadow clouding the day was the general outrage of relocated residents, who were forced to move so that demolition could take place. “We surveyed about one hundred of the relocated renters,” recounts Fatia, who was representing the residents. “They are all unsatisfied as they were all relocated without having their wishes taken into account concerning their relocation.” For example, Zahia, who is eighty-five years old, was relocated to the ninth floor of a building in Oliviers despite her health issues and problems with vertigo. Fatia also cites resident Ana, who is currently being evicted for having refused to move to the city’s proposed housing, a “residence eaten away by water damage.”Low-income HLM building in Marseille, FranceThis situation is “scandalous and unacceptable” for the renters as well as for the six final families who are still in the process of being evicted for having refused the housing options given by the HMP’s financial backer. “They are putting pressure on the families to get them to leave, but then they are relocated without any regard to their wishes,” continues the renters’ representative. To these complaints, Arlette Fructus responded without hesitation that “the families who refuse to leave are responsible for holding up the project.” A project that, despite all difficulties, has received an investment of 162 million euros already.

Who benefits from urban revitalization in your city? Who are the unseen or unheard victims? What urban redevelopment projects have occurred in your community? 

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

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Katelyn Hewett recently graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts in English and French. During her time at St. Olaf, she enjoyed playing the French Horn in the St. Olaf Band, working as a teaching assistant for first-year...

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