artistic vagueness in the call for projects

This Wednesday, Grégory Doucet, environmentalist mayor of Lyon, presented to the press the next non-residential projects of the most emblematic buildings of the city’s vacant heritage. Despite the main guiding principles, the announcements are currently not very concrete. And we also noticed a great absence: culture.

Chalet du Parc de la Tête d’Or, Guimet Museum, Terreaux Gallery, CIRC Tower, Neyret Site (former National School of Fine Arts)… These places abandoned for years, well known by the inhabitants of Lyon and Lyonnaises, should find a second life.

In front of Grégory Doucet, mayor of Lyon, and Sylvain Godinot, deputy for heritage, an audience of journalists, who arrived in large numbers, expected big announcements. The planned program was ambitious: the City Council announced the “implementation of several projects on emblematic buildings” of its vacant heritage.

For the occasion, the doors of the “Chalet” have been reopened, one of his disused properties, in the heart of the Parc de la Tête d’Or. This 1960s building has amazing lake views.

Until 2013 it housed a tourist restaurant, “Le Pavillon”, before being abandoned. Remnants of a welcome sign remain exposed by the front door, faded from sun and weather. In the rooms, ceiling tiles are missing and labels cover part of the huge windows.

The second life of the vacant estate in Lyon will have to wait a bit

The assembly was already chilled by the coolness of the place, and the announcements of the mayor and his deputy will not have managed to warm it up. We could have expected definite projects, or at least precise outlines, as well as a certain part given to culture. For the Chalet du Parc, the promise was even attractive: “a place of resources that will become a vantage point for contemplation and admiration of the wonders of nature in an emblematic park”.

Unoccupied since 2013, the chalet in the park, owned by the Lyon City Council, previously housed a restaurant whose advertising is still displayed at the entrance. ©MA/Rue89Lyon

Actually, the announcements were somewhat disappointing. The mayor and his deputy have dated the start of these projects from 2022, but it is rather a start that should be done this year. In April, the municipality will launch two calls for expressions of interest, for the Chalet du Parc and the CIRC tower.

As for the other sites, we find warm announcements: at the end of 2022, the Contemporary Art Biennale to be found in part at the Guimet Museum, which will benefit from 500,000 euros of renovation, and the project of a city of repair. artisans at the Galerie des Terreaux, no date set.

In the Chalet and in the CIRC tower, the City Council does not finance the reforms

For the CIRC tower, in the 8th arrondissement, residents and journalists have nothing more to worry about. The true contours of the project and the call for expressions of interest will be known at the end of April. The only information given by the elected officials: the rehabilitation will be carried out within the framework of an international consultation of the C40 network (formed by large cities mobilized against climate change). It is difficult at the moment to imagine the future of the 8,500 m² of this building, which will have to be renovated at the cost of several tens of millions of euros.

The renovation is also the big project that will have to be carried out at the Chalet du Parc for the next buyer. The City Council has estimated at 4.3 million the necessary funds for the rehabilitation of this great building, a true thermal sieve. A rather low estimate, by Sylvain Godinot’s own admission, especially given the current price of raw materials.

Will buyers be willing to put that much money on the table? The environmentalists launch this bet, betting everything on the “emblematic” side of these two places. There is no certainty about the result.

For the Chalet du Parc, a rehabilitation still uncertain

For volunteers to submit an expression of interest, the ability to renovate the site and propose a viable economic model are among the first criteria. They will benefit from a rental of approximately 25 years in the Chalet, and will have to adapt to park hours, have an “ecological transition-oriented” offer, but a hybrid program, open to as many people as possible, and preserve the tranquility. of the park… The file is to be assembled in a month and a half, since the call ends on May 18.

The City of Lyon is looking for the rare pearl(s), but doesn’t really know exactly what form the project will take. “A restaurant seems quite obvious to us, but we are not closed to anything,” explains Sylvain Godinot.

Grégory Doucet elaborates, without ceasing to be allusive:

“We have not set a guideline for a tourist activity. We focus on a welcoming place around biodiversity and ecological transition. The goal is not touristic as such, even the structure will be able to benefit from other than the Lyonnais and the Lyonnaises. The park has 6 million visitors a year. »

Culture, very marginal in rehabilitations

During the press conference, only a brief evocation of the fate of the Guimet Museum made it possible to give culture a moment. First, the 16,000 m² will enter a period of transition with the installation of the Biennale of Contemporary Art.

The City then says that it is ready to study “the continuation of the eventual opening of places”, and announces “carrying out a reflection for a long-term conversion project”. A pretty blurry future.

An artistic future could also be expected for the former School of Fine Arts (Neyret site), which will become a hybrid place, between the archaeological service of the City, and the birth of a “third place of ecological transition”.

The absence of the press conference by Nathalie Perrin-Gilbert, culture assistant to the mayor of Lyon, has also reflected to a certain extent the weakness of the cultural offer planned for these buildings.

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