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Place du Jeu de Balle: retail adds lustre to residential setting

 - ©Ville de Bruxelles

2013-10-04 – The old fire station, one of the glories of the Place du Jeu de Balle, was reopened on Wednesday by the Aldermen for Municipal Property and Economic Affairs of the City of Brussels. Thanks to a close partnership with Atrium, the Regional Trade Agency, the Property Service of the City of Brussels has successfully rehabilitated the site in keeping with the popularity of this commercial centre: some 6,500 pedestrians walk down Rues Haute and Blaes and through Place du Jeu de Balle every day.

The Joseph Poelaert fire station was built on Place du Jeu de Balle in 1853. By 1982, it was too small for the firemen, who moved to Avenue de l’Héliport. During the 1980s, the premises were converted into housing (71 units) and shops (23, including the six on Place du Jeu de Balle and Rue des Renards).

Begun in March 2011, the redevelopment of the site consisted of two parts.

  • Firstly, the installation of fencing to cut down on problems from anti-social behaviour: the courtyard is now open to pedestrians during the day, but at night is only accessible to tenants who hold a badge. The passageways along the façades have been removed in order to give the shops an extra metre or so and make them more visible to passers-by. In order to harmonise the architectural ensemble, the brickwork has been replaced by paving stones.
  • Secondly, the central pavilion has been completely renovated and isl accommodating a catering establishment.

The cost of the operation, paid by the Property Service, is €4,341,880.

A survey conducted by Atrium among retailers and customers in the local district revealed what visitors want. They would like to see quality shops focusing on recycling and creative transformation, in keeping with the flea market, and with an emphasis on sustainable development. The eleven shops present in the courtyard today offer recycled items or items made using recycled components, in some cases put to a use different from their original one. Examples include clothes made from recycled textiles, the sale of furniture, ornaments, jewellery and light fixtures, the customisation of old objects and the creation of artworks from reusable materials.

The completion of this project is also an appropriate occasion to mention the active participation of the Association of Friends of the Vieux Marché and the Association of Shopkeepers of the Bruegel and Marolles Districts in this regeneration of the old fire station, and of the dynamism they bring to life in this district.