The Seine river is being used to recycle materials from the La Samaritaine construction site, the vast Paris real estate renovation project.

Rather than use trucks to remove demolition debris, developer Vinci is using an immense barge to transport waste materials out of the city. It’s a welcome green approach to the dismantling of the former department store.

Luxury group LVMH is behind the €500-million makeover of the iconic La Samaritaine site. It is owned by France’s richest man, Bernard Arnault.

The art nouveau/art deco gem is to be transformed into a 72-room luxury hotel. There will be a department store, with a retail area extending over 21,000 m2, and offices. The Paris real estate renovation will also include 72 social housing units, a day care center and a creche.

Eco-friendly Paris Real Estate Renovation

A vast barge, with capacity for up to 300 tons, now travels once a week 28km down river to a recycling site at Gennevilliers. Here, around 85% of the demolition materials are recycled.

“This Paris real estate renovation is taking place right at the heart of the capital,” says Manuel Estèves of Vinci Construction France. “One of our biggest logistic challenges is working within such a dense urban area. By using the river, we’re reducing both greenhouse gas emissions and heavy traffic on the Paris road networks.”

The renovation of the legendary La Samaritaine is a challenging project. The site is considered a historical monument, so the Paris Historical Monuments Department is supervising the work. More than 1,300 workers are involved in the re-build. They include master ceramists, stonemasons, blacksmiths and sculptors.

Paris Real Estate Renovation Causes Controversy

The Samaritaine department store has loomed over the Pont Neuf bridge since 1869. It was a Parisian institution, equivalent to Macy’s in New York or Harrod’s in London.

The building’s failure to meet safety codes saw it closed in 2005. Renovation work began in 2012. But it was halted following appeals by heritage preservation societies and residents’ associations. They challenged the addition of a contemporary glass façade to one of the building’s sides. This will now go ahead.

Opening to the public is planned for the end of 2018. The new shopping center will receive up to 30,000 visitors per day. It is expected to generate 4,400 jobs.

This is a Paris real estate renovation of epic proportions. We’re glad to see that LVMH is being sensitive not only to the ecological impact of its work, but also to the historical essence of La Samaritaine.

In a statement, it says: “The new Samaritaine architectural ambition is to restore and enhance a heritage that is registered on France’s Inventaire Supplémentaire des Monuments Historiques.”

Effect on Real Estate Values

The renovation work will have taken 5-6 years to complete. However, the long term effect on the 1st arrondissement (district) should be quite positive. The 3rd quarter 2016 figures published by the Chambres de Notaires de Paris (Chamber of Notaries of Paris) show average real estate prices there to be 10,630 €/m². This is already up 1,9% from the previous year. We expect prices to climb further due to higher deamnd once the renovations are completed.

To learn about buying Paris real estate here or elsewhere in the city, we’re happy to answer your questions.

Photo credit – Bastiaan