PARIS – While Parisian stores are reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, an area is emerging as a new retail center for the French capital.
The Quartier du Vertbois, or Vertbois district, in the Haut Marais district has seen an effervescence of activity, as new tenants join a list including CafÃ© KitsunÃ©, which this year opened its first European coffee roasting in the district, the clothing brand APC, the record store Rupture and a Philippe Conticini bakery.
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“It’s a bit like Shoreditch at the beginning, or Silver Lake in Los Angeles, or Brooklyn, when the first hipsters arrived,” says Thomas Erber, the former journalist and town man, artistic director of the project.
Except that it is not an organic development. The project is managed by real estate investment management company Patrizia, which initially acquired around 20 commercial leases in the neighborhood, with the aim of rejuvenating the neighborhood with a mix of food, fashion, art, design and music, after a separate failed project. a gastronomic hub known as La Jeune Rue.
The company has since built a portfolio of nearly 35 stores, 85% of which are leased, with future arrivals including a new branch of chef Jean Imbert and the entertainment force. Pharrell williams‘cafÃ©-restaurant concept to share, according to Charles-Nicolas TarriÃ¨re, general manager of the fund management team at Patrizia.
âVertbois is extremely original,â emphasizes TarriÃ¨re, specialist in risky investments. âI have been practicing this profession for twenty years and I have never seen anything like it. This is what we found exciting when we started this project about five or six years ago.
Recognizing that Parisians were fed up with cookie-cutter shopping streets, Patrizia opted for a mix of independent stores with smaller-scale chains, hoping to turn this hitherto sleepy neighborhood into a new destination. trendy retail store.
âMore and more, the high streets are looking the same everywhere you go: whether you’re in Munich, Paris or New York, you see virtually the same retailers,â TarriÃ¨re said. âWe decided to aim for originality by bringing in traders who, even if they have stores in other districts, come to the Vertbois district with a new store concept.
Erber, known for organization of a series of curiosity cabinets for the former Parisian concept store Colette, brought an equally eclectic approach to this business. In addition to recruiting trendy brands, he’s partnered with city-wide events like Le Fooding and Paris Design Week to put the region on the map.
âIt’s mostly for fun, because I love Paris. I have always been active in the cultural life of the city, âhe explained. “Second, the idea is to bring traffic to the neighborhood, by partnering with established events that will bring the right kind of people into the neighborhood: people who love culture and beautiful things.”
To foster a sense of community, the neighborhood stores – loosely centered around rue du Vertbois, rue Volta and rue Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth – are part of a collective that organizes events, such as a Christmas market planned for the holiday period.
Among them are restaurants like Biche, Elmer, ISTR and AddommÃ©, as well as art galleries Derouillon, Backslash and New Galerie, and a tattoo parlor, Drawtattoo.
âWe are collectively trying to develop a small village in the heart of the world, something a little special and different from other neighborhoods,â said Erber, echoing his slogan for the project.
The district even has its own magazine, La Revue du Vertbois, and branded products, including an upcycled clothing collection produced by APC in collaboration with the eco-responsible concept store Front de Mode, and a selection of wines.
Among the more recent arrivals is Kilometer Paris, the travel-themed women’s clothing brand founded by Alexandra Senes, and upcoming openings include American independent fragrance company The Society of Scent. Meanwhile, Maison Morin, a hotel decorated by designer Matali Crasset, is slated to open in 2023.
There have been obstacles, including COVID-19 closures, which delayed the entire project for 18 months, and ongoing renovations on some dilapidated buildings, in what was historically a poor part of the district of Swamp.
“We are restarting the engine,” TarriÃ¨re said, estimating that it will take another six months to open the remaining stores. But he noted that even though Patrizia waived rents during the foreclosure, she continued to sign new leases. “Our rents are about a quarter or a fifth of what you would pay on rue Vieille du Temple or in other streets in the center of the Marais,” he said.
Despite the challenges, Erber said it’s crucial to make sure city centers stay alive, especially at a time when vacant stores are skyrocketing.
âIf people aren’t careful, we’ll wake up in 10 years and realize that we live in ghost towns,â he said. âI find it really exciting, on a modest level, to have the opportunity to help try to transform the city into a neighborhood that I hope could become a case study for positive change. “