Why the City of Bourges did not follow up on the hotel-restaurant project in the Augustins convent

“Unsuccessful”. The word slammed into the hall of the municipal council, during the last session, on October 6. Questioned by the opposition, Mayor Yann Galut, using this adjective, closed a file opened in June 2021, less than a year after his election: the procedure for calling for expressions of interest for the renewal of the convent of the Augustinians.

Yet considered crucial by a municipality that has made the renewed attractiveness of the city center one of its priorities, the reconquest of this neglected heritage, located on the strategic sector of the shopping loop, between Mirebeau and Calvin streets, will still have to wait. . The City has decided not to follow up on the proposal made by the Société d’économie mixte (Sem) Territoria, the last candidate in the running in this process, outside the Public Procurement Code, launched by the municipality, owner of the property, in order to promote the emergence of projects.

This is a monstrous file, very important for the future of the city, on which we cannot afford to take the slightest risk.

“As the procedure allowed us, we preferred to backtrack, explains Olivier Cabrera, deputy mayor delegated to the heart of the city, to trade, to crafts, to the social and solidarity economy. This is a monstrous file, very important for the future of the city, on which we cannot afford to take the slightest risk. »

An attractive project but which lacked guarantees

A high standard hotel offer, with a capacity of around thirty rooms, as well as a gourmet restaurant: if the proposal, carried out by Sem Territoria, to transform the former 13th century convent, which has become an urban wasteland, into a tourist and gastronomic center was enough to seduce the community, the latter felt “that the financial security of the project was not guaranteed, continues Olivier Cabrera.

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In a complicated context for companies as well as for the public authorities, we needed to be completely reassured about the operator’s ability to complete a program as heavy as the one planned. After requesting additional information and analysis by our services, we felt that the weaknesses in the file were too great. »

“A fortiori in the current context, financially completing such a complex file in terms of rehabilitation is difficult”

Jean-Baptiste Lacroix (Director of Sem Territoria)

Director of Sem Territoria, Jean-Baptiste Lacroix acknowledges “not having managed to find the point of economic balance” to convince the community to move up a gear in the revival of the Augustins: “A fortiori in the current context, closing financially such a complex file in terms of rehabilitation is difficult”, continues the representative of Sem, an operator who, in the coming weeks, must launch the conversion operation of Bon Pasteur, another wasteland in the city center.

Previously, three other tracks had flown away. Among them, a file carried by the Printemps de Bourges, oriented towards culture and also integrating a catering offer, and another, supported by the company François Ier, a Parisian real estate operator who was considering a transformation into housing.

Always a desire to be open to the public

The chapter of the call for expression of interest closed, the future of the convent of the Augustins remains to be written. In what form?? With whom?? What funding? And when?? While the City hoped to see more clearly last spring, the horizon darkens above a site partly classified as a Historic Monument.

“This file is far too important to rush its treatment, procrastinates Olivier Cabrera. Going back to a call for expressions of interest seems complicated to me insofar as the first one did not succeed. Going towards a emphyteutic lease or a sale, everything remains on the table, as long as our desire to open the place to the public is respected. »

Benjamin Gardel

benjamin.gardel@centrefrance.com

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