Paris 2024 Olympic Games: employment, housing, infrastructure… will Seine-Saint-Denis be the big winner ?

Paris 2024 Olympic Games: employment, housing, infrastructure... will Seine-Saint-Denis be the big winner ?

Le village flambant neuf, qui accueillera les athlètes des Jeux Olympiques, sera transformé ensuite en logements et en bureaux. MAXPPP – Franck Dubray

Cœur des Jeux avec quatre sites majeurs et le village des athlètes, la Seine-Saint-Denis bénéficiera-t-elle de retombées suffisantes pour se métamorphoser ? État des lieux à 116 jours de l'ouverture. 

Barely five hundred meters separate the Stade de France from the Cité des Francs-Moisins in Saint-Denis. Five hundred meters but a world away between places costing several hundred euros at the temple of the next Olympics and the dull large complex rotten by poverty.

The northern department of Paris, which hosts four sites and the athletes' village, is among the most criminogenic in the country. Will the Games really make it possible to regenerate this territory of 1.6 million inhabitants, a third of whom live below the poverty line ?

Urban renaissance against a backdrop of constructions

The department is engaged in a phase of long-term urban revitalization. The high prices and low availability of land in Paris, added to the extension of the public transport network, now make Seine-Saint-Denis attractive.

The wastelands left by the decline of historic factories allow the construction of large projects and the reception of tertiary companies, such as Tesla which will move its French headquarters to Saint-Ouen.

More than a billion euros invested

"We had to find a second wind for employment to remain in Seine-Saint-Denis", explains Isabelle Vallentin, deputy general director of Solideo, a public company responsible for the delivery of Olympic works. "There is also a dilapidated housing stock so it was necessary to develop living spaces with all the necessary comforts".

Also read: Paris 2024 Olympics: new pools, courses in the neighborhoods… Seine-Saint-Denis no longer wants to be an aquatic desert

In total, the construction of the Olympic works cost 4.5 billion euros (public and private). Proof of the place given to Seine-Saint-Denis, around 80% of the public envelope of 1.7 billion euros was devoted to it.

2800 new housing units

In just six years, in a former industrial zone on the banks of the Seine, a brand new district of 52 hectares has emerged, straddling the communes of Saint-Denis, Saint-Ouen and L& ;rsquo;Île-Saint-Denis.

In its tall, heterogeneous buildings made of wood or concrete, the athletes' village will be transformed into a residential and office district: from the summer of 2025, 6,000 new residents in 2,800 housing units (including 25 to 40 % of social housing), two school groups, offices for 6,000 employees, shops…

In London, the mixed heritage of Stratford…

In the Stratford district, where the situation was comparable, 12 years after the London Games, similar promises of affordable housing for local residents have still not been kept . On the contrary, the neighborhood has gentrified, causing rents to skyrocket…

Also read: Paris 2024 Olympic Games: what to remember and expect from the Olympic village inaugurated Thursday by the President of the Republic

"The Games constitute a tipping point. This accelerates a moment in the transformation of the territory", however, believes the socialist president of the departmental council Stéphane Troussel. "We condensed in record time and with a quantitative aspect of scale the deliveries of equipment, housing, roads, footbridges, public equipment."

Really sustainable jobs ?

Massively create employment. This is the other big promise. At 10.4%, the unemployment rate, three points higher than the national average, the department needed a breath of fresh air. Of the two million hours intended for the integration of people far from employment on Solideo construction sites, some 57% benefited the inhabitants of Seine-Saint-Denis.

The Games are recruiting in areas as diverse as security, cleaning, catering and will employ 180,000 jobs. But above all, these will be short-term contracts with no guarantee after the end of the party.

"We must be sincere, there is undoubtedly a gap between the level of expectations, the level of unemployment being what it is, the degree of precariousness being what it is and what the Games can bring in themselves, recognizes the former leader of the CGT union Bernard Thibault who represents the signatories of the Olympic social charter to the organizing committee.

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