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Urban Revitalization Seems Close Enough to Touch in Sain...

Urban Revitalization Seems Close Enough to Touch in Saint-Maixent l’École, France

Elected officials have validated Saint-Maixent l’École’s application for candidature for a national project to revitalize downtown areas across the country. While opening the municipal council debates on Thursday evening, Léopold Moreau announced that the city of Saint-Maixent L’École was pre-selected from three hundred communes in France to become a candidate for the revitalization of town centers.

Elected officials have validated Saint-Maixent l’École’s application for candidature for a national project to revitalize downtown areas across the country.

Saint Maixent l'École, France

While opening the municipal council debates on Thursday evening, Léopold Moreau announced that the city of Saint-Maixent L’École was pre-selected from three hundred communes in France to become a candidate for the revitalization of town centers. The representatives would have decided whether or not to take this opportunity, except for that only fifty communes will be selected during a yet-to-come final round of judging. According to the application, being chosen would allow the town to benefit from a financial incentive (230 million euros distributed amongst different communes). The city will know whether or not they qualify by mid-November, confirms Céderic Hamelin, who prepared the town’s application.

 Seizing the opportunity

“What is left is to convince the selection jury,” summarizes Léopold Moreau. The diagnostics should help them. “The city has seen a certain demographic downturn, one could say."

Reading into this, a large percentage of the city’s households have modest incomes for which the net annual income is less than 18.5% of the national average. The city must also deal with its increasingly fragile commercial life, as well as a preoccupying degradation of housing conditions in the center of town, with respects to the livable space and the rate of vacancy in apartment buildings.”

Saint Maixent l'École, France

Faced with such deteriorated conditions, Saint-Maixent’s candidature for revitalization could be a great opportunity. If they were to be accepted, the revitalization would be comprised of projects in five categories, including urban planning, social areas, and environmentalism. Also projected are considerable financing for the municipality and inter-communal area. The investment budget would be 2.6 million euros over the course of six years. The expected financial aids should help to realize their plans. “If the application isn’t selected in the end,” worried an official, “what would be the next steps?” “Undeniably there will be efforts made,” responded the mayor, specifying that this would be the exact theme of an upcoming meeting.

The officials also validated a 5-year treaty of partnership with the public real estate institution of Poitou-Charentes (the EPF). The mission of the partnership is to acquire and leaseback buildings in the regional territory. This agreement, the mayor said, would fit logically into the revitalization of the town center that would hypothetically be put in place should the town’s application be accepted.

“It is important to specify that this initiative is the concrete realization of the program voted on by the population of Saint-Maixent. In consequence, it will be put into place even if the city is not ultimately selected for the national revitalization project,” the mayor added.

Regarding the financing of the plans, the EPF plans to put up 500,000 euros. This sum will serve as the funds for conducting real estate studies, acquiring apartment buildings, making the city safer, even financing the demolition or de-pollution of buildings. The EPF will also see to selling acquired property to private investors, except for those buildings over which the city wishes to maintain control.

How does the government help encourage the revitalization of struggling parts of your city? Does your city work to develop public-private partnerships like this one?

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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