Les Halles in Paris: the 'Canopy' marks the Forum's renovation
The renovated Forum des Halles in Paris features an increase from 115 to 150 retailers, a redesigned urban landscape, easier access routes, terrace restaurants and a huge 17-metre high glass roof, the "Canopy". Its inauguration was held on 5th April. According to the mayor of Paris, the area's refashioning has healed a "wound" the neighbourhood had to bear for a long time.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo, together with her predecessor Bertrand Delanoë, the project's initiator, indeed pointed out that for a long time Paris had to live with a 'hole' at its heart (the former Forum des Halles was concentrated underground). A hole which unsurprisingly stirred strong feelings for its modernisation, notably among those pining for the 'Willerval Pavilions', which were built in 1973 but were only meant to be provisional.
About €918 million have been invested to give the Forum a new lease of life. Including €238 million spent by Unibail Rodamco, the shopping mall's owner, which added an additional €105 million of its own to entirely renovate the mall's technical services.
Paris' mayor also responded to criticism about the construction budget, defying her detractors to find another redevelopment project of this magnitude which exceeded its planned cost by as little as 14%.
As for the champagne yellow colour, occasionally sniped at and quite unlike a verdant canopy, the mayor declared that 'it is wonderful.' While Bertrand Delanoë mentioned a representative of one of the residents' associations, who pointed out the failure of a Canopy that was dark even in fair weather.
"Poor sports. The sky is clear blue today and you can see its real effect," Delanoë said. "Enough to undermine the credibility of any criticism."
About 40 million visitors are expected by 2018, compared to 37 million today. This would make the Forum Les Halles Europe's no. 2 shopping mall, after Les 4 Temps at La Défense, also in Paris and also owned by Unibail-Rodamco. Plus, the venue boasts a music conservatory, a cultural centre and quality restaurants, all of them designed to make the Forum an area alive with more than just its retail offering and its transport links, through which 750,000 passengers travel regularly.
On the commercial side, new brands will be added to the shopping mall. Nike has unveiled its 800 m² concept store, while Sephora as well features a new, 650 m² concept located beneath the Canopy, facing Lego's first 300 m² French flagship store. Web portal L'Exception has introduced its first 500 m² physical store. Rituals, Superdry, The Body Shop, Claudie Pierlot, Herschel, Sandro, Lacoste and Calvin Klein Underwear also added their names to the list, while a 3,000 m² Monoprix store will join them in 2017.
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