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The redevelopment of the former market halls (les Halles) in the center of Paris
This is the first in a series of posts looking at major projects that are enhancing parts of Paris and restoring others to their former glory.
The redevelopment of the former wholesale food market, les Halles de Paris, in the 1st arrondissement (district) continues apace. Part of the makeover includes an undulating glass canopy to cover the Forum des Halles, the partially-underground shopping center. The canopy is scheduled for completion later in 2014.
The market dated back to the 12th century and operated until the early 1970s, giving its name to the surrounding neighborhood. It eventually had a series of separate halls, each specializing in a different product. The circular grain exchange, now la Bourse de Commerce that houses offices of the Chamber of Commerce, is a famous landmark. Immortalized in literature by Emile Zola in his novel Le Ventre de Paris (‘The Belly of Paris’), the neighborhood was home to some colorful characters.
By the 1960s, the market was in need of major renovation and economically unviable. Its functions were transferred to Rungis, outside Paris, and La Villette (19th arrondissement). The old glass and cast iron buildings were dismantled. One of the former structures was rebuilt in the French town of Nogent-sur-Marne. The other adorns a park in Yokohama, Japan.
The shopping center opened in 1979, followed by the public gardens in 1986. The present face-lift started in 2010 at an estimated total cost of €800 million. It includes the shopping center, the gardens, and the Châtelet-Les-Halles metro station, which handles 750,000 passengers per day. Final completion is scheduled for 2016.
The likely effects on the real estate market? Experts predict that the redevelopment will have an upward impact on prices in a part of Paris where demand is already high and apartments in short supply.
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