A fine conversation with ...

At the end of the press conference during which Abatan revealed its “Global development vision” (Abatan 2020 Project), we had the chance to interview one of the driving forces behind this project, i.e. architect and engineer Jo Huygh.

Along with the project’s evolution, it is our intention to go and see him on a regular basis so to stay informed about what is going on at the building site. So, if you want to be kept informed, just stay tuned!

When will the first phase of the new Freshmarket’s construction be started?
The building permit and the environmental license have been submitted and we expect the works to be started up by the end of summer. Things have been slowed down due to some soil decontamination issues.

Do go on!
We are being confronted with a soil and groundwater contamination problem on our site, which entails some 10.000 m3 of soil to be dug off and decontaminated. An expert in decontamination was especially appointed to follow this up, and although this problem is not directly related with our project, it did cause some delay. In the eyes of the Brussels administration, our project is one of economic importance, which means that the city is paying 40% of the decontamination works through subsidies called “Brussels-Greenfields” subsidies.


What is the raison for the delay then?

You should know that the ground zero level of the new Fresh market needs to be dug in. These digging-works take place on an area of land where formerly the river “De Zenne” had its bed, and is contaminated, the so-called “forgotten contamination”. This soil needs to be transported to a special site for decontamination. All this entails lots of extra worries that need to be studied in order to come to an economical and environmentally acceptable solution. And all this is taking time, of course. But as far as we are concerned, the sooner we can start, the better.

In how far will these works have an impact on the continuity of today’s market activities?
Abatan’s market grounds are huge enough to allow for a normal market activity, even with the works going on. The building yard and markets activities will be closely monitored and coordinated. Some merchants will indeed have to move to another place on the market ground, but this is not a real cause of concern.

What can you tell us about the renovation plans of the existing market hall, registered as a monument?
The renovation of the market hall is a very expensive operation and the regulations that are being imposed on us are enormous. Financially, Abatan s.a. cannot carry out this project all by itself, but the renovation still is high on our agenda.

Thanks a lot for your time Mr Huyg, and hopefully we see eachother again next month.

If you are interested to read more about this global development project, you can download the brochure handed out at the press conference. This document is only availale in French and Dutch. We apologize for that.