Belgium buys 23 EU buildings to transform Brussels' European quarter

The Belgian government is buying 23 office buildings from the European Commission. Most of these will be turned into offices, shops, public facilities and housing. The deal should lead to a major transformation of the European quarter in Brussels.

In total, the European Commission is selling a portfolio of 23 buildings to the Federal Holding and Investment Company (SFPIM) of the Belgian government, for about 880 million euros. The government’s investment company has in turn given the 21 buildings on a long lease to the Belgian fund Cityforward, set up by SFPIM and insurer Ethias and managed by Brussels-Antwerp partner Whitewood.

The 21 buildings, with a total area of 300,000 square metres, will be transformed into sustainable offices (70 per cent), flats (25 per cent) and shops or public facilities (5 per cent). There will be about 750 to 800 new flats in the district and the first new residents and office workers should move in from 2028.

The total cost of the changes to the buildings is estimated to be of the same order of magnitude as that of the purchase, bringing the total investment to almost 2 billion euros. The investment should lead to a profound transformation of the neighbourhood.

“The foundations have been laid to become in the near future the epitome of a diversified urban environment with sustainable workplaces in a neighbourhood where it is good to live,” said Frédéric Van der Planken, CEO of Whitewood and manager of Cityforward.

The other two buildings, which are outside the European quarter, have been sold to the Vicinity Affordable Housing Fund and neighbourhood developer Matexi. They will redevelop them into sustainable and affordable rental and owner-occupied flats.


The European quarter in Brussels © BELGA PHOTO THIERRY ROGE

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