In Atlanta, Porsche Cars North America’s move to the airport area has jump-started an area long avoided by corporate heavy-hitters. Local leaders have seized on the momentum as they seek to establish a regional marketing initiative.
Atlanta’s French partner, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, also added an auto maker to the win column in its growing portfolio: the French headquarters of Volkswagen, Porsche’s parent company.
The project was one of many signs of dynamism presented to leaders from Atlanta and around the world at the Sustainable Airport Area seminar in Paris in October.
A few highlights from around CDG:
With more than 200 stores and restaurants, Aéroville is a huge mall in what seems an unlikely location for retail at first glance. Logistics facilities lie a few hundred feet outside the glass doors, and planes roar continually overhead. But inside, it’s another world. Luxury shops offer ample distraction, and the double-layered glass facade helps block out the noise. Less than a mile from the terminals and including a movie theater, the mall opened in October largely to serve the 120,000 people that work in the area.
A $2 billion project planned for completion by 2021, Europa City is to sit midway between Charles de Gaulle Airport and downtown Paris and near Le Bourget, the largest business aviation hub in Europe. What’s now nearly 200 acres of farmland will become a cultural, retail and residential hub that incorporates its agrarian heritage into the design. It will aim to capitalize on the traffic between the city and the airport while creating a new urban center in its own right.
Some are skeptical that it will be able to woo enough people to justify its price tag, especially given competition from other nearby projects. It’s part of a larger urban design called the Triangle de Gonesse, which aims to use density strategically to preserve as much green space as possible in one of the Paris metro area’s largest remaining land reserves.
While the French auto market has fallen from 2.2 million units to just over 1 million, Volkswagen Group France’s share of the pie has grown. That has brought about the need for a new French headquarters for the German auto maker. In 2015, VW will move many of its nearly 700 French employees into a brand new building at Roissy Parc International, just a few minutes’ drive from the airport. The main reasons were shorter commute times for workers and the need for more space, but it doesn’t hurt the sales team to Europe’s second busiest passenger airport.
That good news is juxtaposed with a downer for the airport region in the automotive sector: the October closure of the PSA Peugeot-Citroen plant in the town of Aulnay-sous-Bois, south of the airport. The plant made its first cars in 1973. The bright side, according to officials, is that the 170-hectare site will now be open for future development, but it’s unclear whether it will be possible to attract another tenant on that scale.
With hundreds of thousands of square feet of exhibition and logistics space under development near Charles de Gaulle, a special development for Asian companies might seem redundant to the outsider. Not so, apparently. A-Park, planned for 2016, is set to have hotels, offices, laboratories, wholesale showrooms, logistics and even a business park dedicated to small and medium-sized Asian companies.
Air France, which employs nearly 30,000 people on the airport grounds, only moved its headquarters to the airport area a few years ago. In 2015, Aeroports de Paris will follow, putting its base in a new office building at Roissypole, a business district adjacent to Terminal 3 and sitting at an intermodal hub with trains and buses connecting into Paris. New hotels – an Accor and a CitizenM – will add nearly 900 rooms next year, joining a Hilton and an Ibis already located on the property.
For more information on these projects and more, contact HubStart Paris.