Pissevin district in Nîmes: the story of a chic area which has inexorably become impoverished

Pissevin district in Nîmes: the story of a chic area which has inexorably become impoverished

The Wagner Gallery was originally equipped with fine shops. Midi Libre – MiKAEL ANISSET

The Pissevin district in Nîmes was originally designed to respond to a lack of housing in France.

Pissevin is the story of Les Escanaux in Bagnols, La Paillade in Montpellier or La Devèze in Béziers: neighborhoods which, in their origin, had everything to please and which , today, rather scare away buyers. The creation of Pissevin dates back to the 1960s.

Very high standard buildings

In the context of the Trente Glorieuses and a national need for new housing, "the State places an order on medium-sized towns to build 800,000 housing units&quot ;, explains Olivier Bonné, deputy mayor responsible for monitoring urban renovation. Marble, elevators, central heating French repatriates from Algeria or people from the rural exodus will be welcomed there. "From there, construction is underway new neighborhoods like Nîmes Ouest, Super Nîmes, Valdegour Hill,  Chemin-Bas and Mas de Mingue, with collective housing in co-ownership or from the landlord." 

The architect Xavier Arsène-Henry, Second Grand Prix de Rome, is in charge. Thus will be born what is still today one of the largest co-ownerships in France, Soleil Levant and its 516 apartments. But the ambition for this neighborhood was high : "Originally, the co-owners of the Richard Wagner gallery, La Garrigado, Li Bécarut, Lou Piboulo and Lou Ferigoulier, are buildings of a very high standard, recalls Olivier Bonné. You are in marble habitats, apartments often crossing, with running water, with central heating, a concierge, elevators, a shopping gallery at the bottom at the top level. There you found Domus, the furniture store which is now next to the theater, or Villaret. And it was mostly executives who lived there." 

A slow degradation

But from the 1980s, the situation deteriorated inexorably: "The owners began to rent, the situation deteriorated, and so did the property. The owners no longer pay the charges which are very heavy. Necessary repairs are not being done… At the time, an apartment in Piboulo was worth the price of land in La Cigale. Today, you sell it for 200 € of m2 and no one wants to buy it, notes Olivier Bonné. A situation which led to a first urban renewal program between 2005 and 2015, where 80 housing units will be destroyed and 120 rehabilitated around Place Corot.

The second program launched since 2019, with a budget of 250 M€, of which 50 M€ for the City of Nîmes and 25 M€ for Nîmes Métropole, is accompanied by a classification of the district in "national interest".

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