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Geneva unveils massive housing project plan

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Geneva unveils massive housing project plan
Rendition of proposed 80-metre tower and adjacent apartment block in Geneva's Vernets neighbourhood. Photo: Canton of Geneva
12:20 CEST+02:00
Public input is being sought on a master plan for the redevelopment of railway and industrial land in Geneva that could accommodate 11,000 residential units for a canton struggling to deal with an ongoing housing shortage.

The revamped plan for the Praille-Acacias-Vernets (PAV) area, released on Thursday, offers a blueprint for dense development of a 230-hectare zone that stretches from the city of Geneva to include areas in the municipalities of Carouge and Lancy.

The plan elaborates 21 principles for a “sustainable” development with green spaces, a large central park, buildings that use renewable energy and transportation that minimizes car use.

Two stations on the new CEVA regional train line will be located in the development linked with new bus routes.

The emphasis with the plan is on housing after past proposals for extensive office space development fell to the wayside.

Among the first components of the plan — potentially the biggest single development in Geneva’s history — is an 80-metre high residential tower block envisaged for the site of the Vernets military barracks, near the Arve River.

The tower, designed by Lausanne architects Fruehauf, Henry & Viladoms and Geneva firm Descombes Rampini, would be part of a complex including nine-storey buildings with large interior courts.

The firms’ designs won a competition for the Vernets site, calling for 1,500 public housing units, a school and an activity centre.

Private investors are being sought to finance the project that will give the successful bidder rights of use over 48,000 square metres of land that will remain publicly owned.

Francesco della Casa, Geneva cantonal architect, acknowledged the project is marked by a “very ambitious density”.

Efforts to redevelop the PAV lands have struggled to get off the ground since 2005 with major political disagreements over the kind of buildings wanted for the area and the ratio of housing and commercial space.

Feedback will be accepted on the 150-page proposed master plan until May 12th.

The plan will be subsequently adjusted with politicians aiming to adopt a formal blueprint by the end of the year.

Antonio Hodgers, the Geneva cabinet minister in charge of land development and housing, warned of a “slow and difficult” transformation of the land use for the PAV area, the Tribune de Genève newspaper reported.

Geneva has struggled to produce enough housing to match the number of jobs recently created in the canton, leading to an accommodation crunch and a residential construction boom in adjoining areas of France, where building permits are more easily obtained.
  

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