Every year, Comptoir Immobilier organizes a seminar on the progress of the Praille Acacias Vernets area. The 7th edition of “Feet in the PAV” was held on January 30 at the Ramada Encore hotel, in the presence of nearly 200 guests, entrepreneurs, political and administrative leaders. What is the evolution of this vast territory? How is the transformation of Geneva’s oldest industrial and craft area into a mixed urban district? Who are the actors involved?
The large Praille Acacias Vernets (PAV) area stretches across the cities of Geneva, Carouge and Lancy. It is 230 hectares strategically located in extension of the city center. Gradually, the perimeter will accommodate 12,400 new homes, 6,200 jobs, as well as infrastructures and public facilities. The attractiveness and accessibility of the PAV have recently been enhanced by the opening of the Léman Express last December. Two stations – Lancy-Pont-Rouge and Lancy-Bachet – are located in PAV, connected to the agglomeration network. The first buildings are already being erected around Pont-Rouge, on the SBB plot. The next stage of construction concerns the site of the Vernets barracks, in the Acacias district. Building permits are about to be issued; they announce the construction of 1500 housing units and various facilities.
In the Etoile district, the State of Geneva and the Pictet Group signed an agreement in November 2019. The latter will allow the company to develop its activities in the area and thus perpetuate its headquarters in Geneva. The agreement paves the way for the construction of a first urban block of four buildings by 2025, including business areas, green spaces, as well as about a hundred homes. The Place de l’Etoile will become a lively place, including bars and restaurants and cultural venues.
On the Grosselin side, the participatory process initiated in 2017 is continuing, with a series of workshops aimed at developing a sustainable neighborhood. The state services are currently planning on a localized neighborhood plan, centered around the former Parker factory in Marbrerie. The Praille-Ouest sector has not yet been the subject of detailed studies. But it is already known that it will be intended to accommodate the secondary and logistical activities of the PAV, around the rail-road infrastructure that will be modernized.
“Les Vernets will certainly display significant density. But this density will create large public spaces, which will contribute to the quality of life,” noted the cantonal officials invited to the seminar. Thus, several large-scale squares are planned, some of which will reach the size of the Place du Molard or that of the Jonction eco-district. Particular attention will be paid to the planting and materials used, as well as to the architecture and habitability of the places. Finally, the district will be opened up to the outside world, with the redevelopment of the Vernets ice rink square. Connections will be strengthened, thanks to an urban boulevard and the agglomeration greenway that will pass nearby.
A 2.6 km long “river space” will cross the entire PAV, a true green and blue backbone of the perimeter. It will constitute a place of relaxation and leisure for users. To be carried out in stages, this major project to reopen the Drize River is also a hydraulic necessity. It will play a major role in flood management and therefore the safety of the new districts.
Today, the PAV perimeter is home to 1,600 companies. The State and the Fondation pour les Terrains industriels (FTI) own about 80% of the land in PAV. In 2017, the State Council created the PAV Foundation, whose existence is now imminent. This public law foundation has the mission to proceed with the release of land and the granting of new distinct and permanent surface rights (DDP), according to the objectives of the PAV project. In other words, the Foundation will be responsible for buying back the DDPs from the companies. At what price? The question remains open. The Foundation will then make new DDPs available for housing operations, public spaces and activities. The PAV Foundation will work in close collaboration with the Praille Acacias Vernets project management (Department of the Territory) and the Foundation for Industrial Land (FTI), which accompanies companies in their relocation and relocation.
Another major player in the sector was present among the speakers: the CPEG. In the PAV sector, the overall investment of the State of Geneva Pension Fund amounts to one billion francs, spread over a decade. Six projects are already underway, some with private investors. In 2017, the CPEG had bought the industrial land of Firmenich, at the northern tip of PAV, to develop a real estate project.
The principles of the PAV law, accepted by the people in June 2018, were recalled at the seminar. This law concerns land in public hands, i.e. 80% of the perimeter. In order to promote a mix, various types of housing have been defined. If a high number of public utility housing (LUP) is planned, other categories are added. These include, in particular, condominiums with building rights, whose land will remain under the control of the State. Housing cooperatives will also be favored in the PAV.
Some businesses will stay put, but with different constraints; others will transform or have to relocate elsewhere, sometimes taking advantage to form new partnerships or clusters. These upheavals are part of an industrial world whose evolution is both technological and societal.
To keep up with the change, it is essential to match the timing of companies wishing to leave or relocate with the supply of space in the Canton. In addition to rental opportunities, such as the Maison des entreprises et des technologies (MET) in Vernier or The Hive in Meyrin-Satigny, there are also opportunities for the sale of PPE space. In this sense, the company Pegase SA offers solutions for relocating companies in the PAV, with the possibility of acquiring premises, particularly in the Cabinotiers building. This is a building located in the ZIMEYSA industrial zone in Meyrin-Satigny, designed on five floors in a rational manner. Currently under construction, this craft centre comprises 9000 m2 of ready-to-use premises. The sale is done by whole trays of 1620 m2 or divisible from 200 m2, and this at prices defying all competition.
The Comptoir Immobilier plays a role in supporting and advising businesses. The company has a team of specialists specially dedicated to the PAV. These specialists support entrepreneurs in situations that may prove to be complex or problematic. A sharp analysis of the needs and potential of each, according to the evolution of the sector and the market, is proposed.
The Cabinotiers Craft Hub
Campus The Hive
Commercial real estate consulting and project management – Comptoir Immobilier