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Region tasks SAU-MSI with developing new creative hotspot in Molenbeek

How the future project could look. - ©sau-msi.brussels/MSA-Idea-Origin

On the proposal of Minister-President, the government of the Brussels-Capital Region yesterday approved the planning scenario for the redevelopment of Rue de Manchester 13-15 and 17-19 in Molenbeek as a new centre for cultural, artistic and creative production. The site is adjacent to the Brussels base of Charleroi Danse (Raffinerie-Plan K) and in the immediate vicinity of Cinémamaximillien. The ambition of the Region, in consultation with the municipality of Molenbeek, is to foster the emergence in this district of a creative hotspot (with an arts centre, studios and businesses) which will attract numerous figures from the cultural and artistic sectors.

The government has also entrusted the Urban Development Corporation (sau-msi.brussels) with a delegated assignment relating to the first stages of implementation of this projectby instructing it to quantify the required investment (currently estimated at €8,000,000 excluding VAT), to develop a financing plan, to negotiate the necessary budgets, to work out the details of the future project management of the work, to determine the method by which the future managers of the premises will be selected, and, on the basis of the points thus defined, to draw up a detailed operational note (planning, budget, project management, operational management, etc.) setting out how the project will be run.

Part of the premises is currently occupied by Recyclart, Vaartkapoen and Damaged Goods/Decoratelier, giving a foretaste of the site’s future use. The Region has also agreed to the proposal of the Kustenfestivaldesarts to set up the nerve centre of its 2019 edition there, from 10 May.

Region exercises pre-emption right on strategic site

Formerly occupied by various business activities, including the Graeffe Refinery, these buildings arranged around two courtyards are located within the operational zone of the Canal Plan (Heyvaert pilot site), the Petite-Senne pre-emption zone and the area covered by Urban Regeneration Contract 5 (URC Heyvaert-Poincarré).

They became the property of the Brussels-Capital Region through the exercise of its pre-emption right: in 2017 for Rue de Manchester 17-19 and in 2018 for Rue de Manchester 13-15.

The SAU-MSI was mandated at the end of 2017 to pilot a project in connection with the URC. To this end, in early 2018, it launched a competitive tender for an assignment to analyse the spatial and planning potential of the two sites and their economic feasibility. This assignment, which was awarded to the consortium MSA-IDEA Consult, has been completed, and the conclusions that were reached have led to the decision taken by the Regional Government today.

Around a hundred jobs in the long term

The study commissioned by the SAU-MSI defined a series of ‘invariant development principles’. Among other things, the warehouse on the Rue de Manchester 13-15 site must be maintained because of the diversity of activities it can accommodate; the L-shaped rear building located at the rear of the Rue de Manchester 17-19 site must also be kept because of its architectural heritage value; a number of buildings must be demolished, including those on the street front of Rue de Manchester 17-19; and there is a desire to create a link between the two sites and open up the courtyards to the surrounding area.

From the various possible scenarios for the redevelopment of the two sites considered in the study, the SAU-MSI opted for that of a new cultural, artistic and creative hotspot that would offer working premises to nearly 100 people. Its proposal along these lines to the Regional Government met with approval.

In addition to reflecting the objectives of the Canal Plan, the Industrial Plan for the Region and the URC, and being consistent with the current local context, this scenario received support from the various parties that the SAU-MSI consulted, including the cultural sector, which confirmed the need for production spaces of this type in the Region.