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New Shopping District Blossoms in Paris

The area between the department store district on Avenue Haussmann and the luxury stores on Rue Saint-Honoré is seeing a flurry of activity.

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Paris is getting a new retail hub.

The area between the department store district on Boulevard Haussmann and the luxury stores on Rue Saint-Honoré is seeing a flurry of activity, including the planned opening this fall of a new office and shopping complex in a 184-year-old building that formerly housed the Printemps-owned Madelios men’s emporium.

MGPA, a private-equity property-investment advisory firm, bought the building in 2009 for 210 million euros, or $280 million at current exchange, and has made “a substantial investment” in gutting and renovating the complex, according to Jean-Philippe Olgiati, country manager, France and Italy at the real estate firm.

Located at 22 Boulevard de la Madeleine, across from the temple-style Madeleine church, the building, which has been renamed Le Madeleine, will house more than 186,000 square feet of offices and 126,000 square feet of retail space, including a two-story flagship C&A store, sports retailer Decathlon and perfumery chain Marionnaud.

“For us, it was an extraordinary opportunity to be able to work in such a prestigious area, on a project with this kind of profile among media and fellow industry professionals,” Olgiati said during a visit to the construction site. “It is part of the evolution of this neighborhood. The whole stretch from here to Opéra is about to undergo significant changes.”

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The real estate firm has tapped architects Laurent Goudchaux and Sébastien Segers to rethink the building and its facade, and industrial designer Ora-ïto to handle the interior design, including the double-height entrance lobby of the office complex, which will feature an interactive wall made of 44 plasma display panels.

Goudchaux and Segers have taken their cue from the facade designed by architect Louis Faure-Dujarric in 1932 for the historic building, formerly known as Aux Trois Quartiers, by assembling a thousand white Carrara marble elements to create a smooth outer wall with curved finishes.

They have moved the entrance of the office section to the left side of the building and scrapped the shopping arcade inside, freeing up space for the future 75,000-square-foot C&A store. The architects knocked out nonessential support columns to create 26-foot windows for the shop, which occupies the corner of the building.

“At peak levels, 125,000 people pass by that corner every day, which makes it an absolutely extraordinary area. We just could not understand why it wasn’t working before, when you have this kind of footfall,” said Olgiati, noting that the shopping arcade format historically has not done well in Paris.

Though most of the other new stores in the area, including the flagship Bucherer luxury watch store down the road, cater primarily to tourists, Le Madeleine expects to attract mainly locals. Among those who have signed leases for offices in the building are Chanel, Actelion Pharmaceuticals, Visa, Field Fisher Waterhouse and Robeco Gestions.

Originally scheduled for delivery in March 2013, the building is now expected to be completed in the fourth quarter.

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