On Wednesday 15 June, Fluvius gave the symbolic starting signal for the construction of a new business site at The Loop in Ghent, which ION is developing in partnership with Wielfaert Architecten. The new site will serve as the operating base for Fluvius employees in the Schelde-Lieve region. They will move in at the end of 2023, vacating the Bomastraat site that has accommodated them for the past 100 years.
After one hundred years in the building at Bomastraat, network operator Fluvius is heading for the Ghent outskirts. The original site was developed a century ago, as a small power station for Ghent’s first electric tram, and was subsequently occupied by the EGW municipal authorities (Electricity/Gas/Water). The site has witnessed a continued energy transition since the second half of the previous century, from Ebes to Eandis and and Fluvius.
The Ham and Bomastraat are currently undergoing a major housing boom: new apartment blocks, accompanied by public green spaces, are springing up everywhere. The Catholic school network was searching for suitable accommodation in the area, which presented an excellent opportunity for Fluvius to sell the site to the Ghent municipal authorities and look for a new home.
Fluvius had been looking for a suitable location in Ghent for a future-oriented, sustainable and energy-efficient business site since 2014. The grid operator decided on the plot at Poortakkerstraat, which is located on the outskirts of Ghent and forms part of The Loop: a new futuristic city district. The company’s previous requirement for an operating base within the city centre now no longer applies. This new site constitutes an asset in terms of accessibility for all municipalities in Fluvius’ Schelde-Lieve region.
Schelde-Lieve regional manager, Dirk Smet: “Speed is key to our operations. Our region's catchment area stretches from Aalter to Destelbergen, and from Oosterzele to Sint-Laureins. The majority of our clients reside in Ghent city centre. The new site enables our employees to access both the city centre and outskirts of our catchment area quickly and without detour.”
Fluvius is building a future-oriented business site at the new location. An office building housing 119 sedentary and 23 semi-ambulatory regional employees, a warehouse for 60 technicians, and an outdoor storage space for logistics equipment and waste containers. The entire site will be equipped with the necessary mobility, charging and parking facilities for pedestrians, cyclists and motorised transport users (i.e. service vehicles, cars and motorcycles) for employees, suppliers and visitors alike. Integrated green spaces will meanwhile ensure a harmonious whole.
Project developer ION is responsible for realising the project. Sustainability is central and the construction will therefore adhere to the regulations specified in the Flemish government's GRO sustainability scheme. The aim at the time of submitting the environmental permit, was for a 20% improvement on current EBP legislation. Power monitoring and water recycling have also been incorporated into the concept.
ION East Flanders Business Unit Manager, Cedric Olivier: “As professional property developers, we’re keen to support projects that are aligned to our long-term sustainability vision. Collaborating with a like-minded partner such as Fluvius was therefore a no-brainer. We’re proud to partner with them on this project.”
Construction company Mathieu Gijbels has been appointed to carry out the construction works.
Mathieu Gijbels Managing Director, Dave Beuten: “The new regional building underwent detailed advanced 3D modelling using BIM (Building Information Modelling). Comparing our 3D steel, concrete and architecture plans with those of our contractors, enables us to resolve potential conflicts prior to the commencement of the construction works. This ensures that we stay within the agreed timescales and budget.”
Fluvius is not prepared to make any concessions in terms of sustainable mobility either. There is a bus and tram connection within 1 km of the building, and the train station is located less than 3 km away. The site is also readily accessible by bicycle: via a network of bicycle paths and cycle highways. And a bicycle path is being constructed immediately adjacent to the site, in addition to the building works.
City of Ghent Mayor, Mathias De Clercq: “I’m delighted with Fluvius’ arrival in The Loop. We’re designing a new futuristic district at this readily accessible site, with space not only designated for offices; but also retail, leisure, parks, housing and public facilities. This combination of amenities will make for a vibrant city district.”
The laying of the foundation stone on 15 June symbolised the official commencement of works on Ghent Fluvius. Employees will move in at the end of 2023.