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Building in large dimensions

Portrait

The old Segmuller grain silo can be seen from afar when approaching the area between the Heyritz and Deux-Rives sector in Strasbourg. In contrast to many old industrial buildings, this dilapidated building complex has not been condemned to eternal sleep but is now being transformed into attractive international student accommodation covering eleven floors, while the upper three floors are being turned into a student hotel.

The prominent renovation project has been assigned to L’Alsacienne du Bâtiment, a local building contractor that won the tender in cooperation with an architect. “We are proud to realize such a milestone project for the University of Strasbourg, which boasts a strong international focus,” points out Monique Barthel, Financial Director of the Alsatian building company. “The entire project is worth twelve million EUR and will certainly become a landmark of international student life in the city. We will also benefit from such a prestigious reference, as we are only a small to medium-sized company.”

L’Alsacienne du Bâtiment’s origin dates back to 1983. Following the insolvency of the previous owner, about 20 former employees took over the construction company and established it under its current name L’Alsacienne du Bâtiment. “Today, we are a limited company with six shareholders still active in the company, while others have already retired. Our current CEO is Arnaud Gerber,” explains Ms. Barthel.

The construction company employs a workforce of 49 people, generating turnover of ten million EUR. Above all, it is active in the Strasbourg area, focusing on large-scale public construction projects.

“We are the building partner of public authorities and private companies. Most of our customers are real estate developers and industrial companies as well as banks,” says Ms. Barthel. “While in the past, our projects were divided into 30% residential complexes, 30% industrial plants and 40% public facilities, including schools, the market has changed considerably. So, today, about 50% of all completed projects are real estate projects by property developers, while the public sector has shrunk.” L’Alsacienne du Bâtiment focuses exclusively on the B2B segment.

It is well known for its consistent quality. Despite being a small company, considering the structure of the building industry in general, it is able to attract large-scale projects. “No doubt, the overall economic situation could be better. It has become quite obvious that in recent years the government as well as many municipalities have not been investing in new projects like they did in the past,” states Ms. Barthel. “For instance, hospitals were subject to ongoing renovation and improvement. Now, many renovation projects are being shelved. While in the past a crisis lasted for just one to two years, this period has extended to five years easily.”

Strasbourg has always been one of the richest regions within France. It actually ranks third in comparison to other French departments. Nevertheless, it has experienced the effects of the last financial crisis. But there are initial signs that the economy is gaining momentum again.

“In the past months, we have seen the announcement of new real estate projects in the market,” says Ms. Barthel. “We have the impression that the market is catching up again. Although public projects have not seen much improvement, the private sector has been launching new property developments recently.”

Construction companies like L’Alsacienne du Bâtiment will certainly benefit from this development and will offer their expertise and know-how.

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