Will a change of president in France finally bring a change of heart regarding the Auchan/Dalian Wanda Group mega-mall project, EuropaCity?
The massive-scale development planned for Greater Paris, is set to include 500 stores and 2,700 hotel rooms, along with a 2,500 seat circus venue complete with resident circus and a 17 acre urban farm. Other facilities include a snow park, theme park and a water park among many others.
The pro lobby says EuropaCity will generate 10,000 jobs, attract middle class money and bring prosperity to the region.
Protesters, and they are legion, are sceptical about the number of jobs claimed and argue that the projected 30 million annual visitors will create major traffic problems.
Aside from infrastructure, environmentalists object to the destruction of premium quality agricultural land and have said that they won’t back down even if the size of the development is reduced.
A government-mandated 2016 report considered the possibility that EuropaCity could become a white elephant and recommended that the developers detail the economic model of the complex. A further report found that many opponents viewed the plan as insufficiently integrated into the local urban context.
Another argument is that consumers are increasingly choosing to shop at smaller retailers. Figures show that this sector enjoyed more growth last year than the large supermarkets.
The question now is whether France’s new president will override all of these considerations and give EuropaCity the green light. He is considered by many to be the country’s most pro-business leader in years.
Image courtesy EuropaCity