1:02 p.m., November 6, 2022

This is a new salvo against the project to modernize Austerlitz station (13th). Or more precisely against the future “glazed monolithic building” which is to house the headquarters of the French Development Agency (AFD). On the program: 50,000 square meters of offices, but also a shopping center and housing. In a column published today on lejdd.fr, around fifty elected officials, association leaders and citizens call on the President of the Republic to “cancel this toxic project” : “Will you let a public institution squander nearly 1 billion euros […] in a climate-killing project, disastrous for the Parisian heritage and economically absurd? », challenge the signatories, including the host Stéphane Bern, the architect Patrick Bouchain or the environmental MPs Sandrine Rousseau and Delphine Batho, as well as three deputy mayors and 11 councilors from Paris. Proof that the project, however supported by the executive, divides even in the municipal majority.

This wall is also an announced environmental disaster, an archaic project in complete contradiction with the aspirations of the future bioclimatic PLU

​“This block with prison architecture, 300 meters long and 37 meters high, is of a rare aggressiveness against the jewels that surround it – the large glass roof of the station, the Salpêtrière hospital and its chapel Saint -Louis, the Jardin des Plantes…”, fulminates Christine Nedelec, president of France Nature Environnement (FNE) Paris. “This wall is also an announced environmental disaster, an archaic project in complete contradiction with the aspirations of the future bioclimatic PLU, and with AFD’s ambition to support projects that are 100% compatible with the Paris Agreement! », adds Olivier Le Marois, president of inCOPruptibles. And to recall that, in an opinion of June 2021, the State real estate council was surprised at the “hiatus between the environmental position of the Agency and the real estate solution chosen, whose frugality is not the main quality”.

Work planned in a few months

Critics rejected by Bertrand Walckenaer, deputy director general of the public establishment responsible for implementing France’s development policy abroad. “The project, which complies with the City’s climate plan, has been approved by the Bâtiments de France, has been validated in a public inquiry, has received authorization from the Ministry of Ecology, he recalls. There will be vegetated surfaces, a photovoltaic farm… We ensure its environmental exemplarity. » For his part, Jérôme Coumet, PS mayor of the 13th, rents “a tight construction that will triple the current garden and a modernization that will open up the station”. Not enough to appease the ire of opponents who evoke the existence of an alternative solution in Saint-Ouen, less expensive by 250 million euros. They also denounce “the unreasonable additional cost of the operation, more than 18,000 euros per square meter against 12,000 euros on average, even though the AFD already has premises that are currently underused”.

Bringing together the 3,000 employees of the Agency and its two subsidiaries will allow us to be more operationally and financially efficient.

​For AFD’s number two, “Bringing together the 3,000 employees of the Agency and its two subsidiaries, Expertise France and Proparco, now spread over six Parisian sites, will allow us to be more operationally and financially efficient. In particular, by making savings on rents or operating costs – heating, catering, security, etc. “. However, it remains to find third parties to occupy the excess 10,000 square meters. “In Saint-Ouen, there were even more excess surfaces, and above all less modular, supports Bertrand Walckenaer. However, we plan to create a city of sustainable development there, intended for researchers, NGOs or entrepreneurs working to combat climate change, preserve biodiversity and develop economics. »

His detractors call on the President of the Republic to “follow the path traced by the cancellation of Europa City and Notre-Dame-des-Landes”.Three associations, InCOPruptibles, SOS Paris and FNE Paris, filed a complaint against X for embezzlement of public funds at the end of June. Not enough to suspend work which should begin in the coming months, confirmed by the decision of the Council of State, rendered on October 19, rejecting the request for cancellation of the building permit made by the three associations. Delivery is expected by 2025-2026.

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