US scraps plan to move embassy to Watermael-Boitsfort

Monday, 03 September 2018 17:25
The former Axa building in Watermael-Boisfort The former Axa building in Watermael-Boisfort © Belga
The US has definitely abandoned their plans to move the embassy to the commune of Watermael-Boitsfort.
Now that they are not allowed to demolish the existing AXA site on order of the Brussels government, the United States officially announced that it will not purchase the AXA site,  Le Soir reported on Monday

With that decision, clarity has finally come to an issue that has been dragging on for more than two years. In the spring of 2016, the United States announced that it had signed a conditional agreement to buy the former headquarters of the insurers AXA and Royal Belge in Watermael-Boitsfort. The chosen site appeared to be suitable for the US to house their new embassy there.

But then an important condition had to be met: the existing building on the Vorstlaan/boulevard du souverain in Watermael-Boitsfort had to be demolished first. This was also laid down as a suspensive condition in the sales contract that was signed two years ago with the real estate group Cofinimmo. The listed group had owned the AXA site for years.

This agreement was arrived at, however, without taking the Brussels government into consideration. Last year it started a procedure to declare the building, which was erected between 1965 and 1967 by the French-Belgian architect duo Pierre Dufau and René Stapels, as a protected monument. Under that status, the building cannot be demolished and therefore prevents the sales conditions from being met, as stipulated in the contract with Cofinimmo.

It is not known if the Americans already have a different location in mind for its embassy. The American embassy is currently located at the Kunstlaan/avenue des Arts in the heart of Brussels. That is close to the Troonplein/place du Trône, where the insurance company AXA opened its new site last year. The former AXA complex in Watermael-Boitsfort is now empty. The adjacent building will partly be converted into residential apartments.

Arthur Rubinstein
The Brussels Times



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