EuropaCity would be Europe’s most state-of-the-art shopping centre, located just 15km to the north of Paris. But its future is in question as public debate on whether it will go ahead starts on Tuesday.
The 80-hectare site would incorporate a shopping mall, hotel rooms, nightclubs and bars and would also serve educational purpose, with exhibition spaces and a conference centre.
But it would be bigger and better than existing leisure complexes in the area, also boasting an ice rink, circus, indoor ski slope, a 17-acre urban farm, a 150,000 metre squared theme park and an aquatic centre.
But so far it remains just a project, despite being on the drawing board for a decade. It is now being compared to other ambitious and controversial projects that have never seen the light of day, like the Notre Dame des Landes airport in Western France.
Developers and locals are however keen for it to go ahead.
The park would offer a panoramic view of Paris.
The Auchan group, which is behind the development, predict an influx of some 30 million tourists to the complex each year, including 6 million foreign visitors.
What a circus show at the complex might look like.
The total cost of the project is estimated at €3.1 billion, which would represent the biggest private investment project in France since Disneyland came to Paris in 1992.
Developers justify the expense with the fact that EuropaCity would create 4,500 jobs for the construction, in addition to 12,000 fixed positions. They also say it will be entirely energy self-sufficient through the use of solar panels and geothermal power.
Six million foreign tourists are expected at the park each year.
It is planned for the 'Gonesse Triangle', a new business and commercial district not far from Charles de Gaulle airport in the north of Paris.
The complex will include a huge outdoor park and theme park.
The public debates will involve consultation with locals between March 15th and June 30th. Residents will get the opportunity to suggest their own ideas for the complex in a series of fifteen meetings before the final decision is made.
“We wil listen and these debates will help us develop the project, but our commitment to making sure it goes ahead it total,” said CHristophe Dalpstein,the director of EuropaCity.
Several exhibition spaces are planned.
Opponents of the idea argue that Paris has enough shopping malls and those in charge of neighbouring towns fear it will simply suck the life and jobs out their own areas.
Eco-activists argue that it would be disastrous for the local agricultural industry as well as smaller local businesses. Militant environmental activists known as Zadists are already eyeing up the site as their next battle.
However, a survey by Odoxa carried out in December showed that 80 percent of locals were in favour.
The indoor ski slope.
A theme park to rival Disneyland Paris.
If given the go-ahead, work will begin in 2017 and the complex will open in 2020. But that's a big “if”.
What the complex would look like at night.
All photos: EuropaCity Flickr