The state temporarily gives up privatizing the Grignon estate

No need to stubbornly and go to a “Programmed fiasco”, especially in the middle of the presidential campaign. Alerted from all sides about the risks of an operation that has become very controversial, the government officially renounced, Monday, November 15, to immediately privatize the area of ​​Grignon (Yvelines), this cradle of French agronomy which currently hosts the AgroParisTech engineering school. A bit like it had abandoned at the end of 2019 the gigantic Europacity leisure and shopping site envisaged in the Triangle de Gonesse (Val-d’Oise).

Three and a half months after announcing the sale of Grignon to real estate developer Altarea Cogedim, the State is thus questioning the project it had itself chosen, after having drawn its outlines at length. “It is not possible to keep the proceedings initiated”, recognizes a press release from the Yvelines prefecture. A new one “Assignment procedure” will be launched “In the second half of 2022”, simply specifies the prefecture. This sends the final decision – whether or not to privatize, how, and for whose benefit – to the government that will emerge from the spring 2022 elections. “We take note of the State’s decision”, Altarea Cogedim sharply reacted on Monday. This overhaul marks the failure of a privatization which, for months, aroused more and more opposition.

It all started with the desire to bring together the four AgroParisTech sites scattered in Ile-de-France into a single campus, on the Saclay plateau (Essonne), a “zone of excellence” in terms of research. Launched in 2008 under Nicolas Sarkozy, the project was then validated by the teams of François Hollande then Emmanuel Macron. The sale of the Parisian site of Claude-Bernard and that of Grignon must finance the installation in Saclay.

An emblematic dossier

It is within this framework that the State is organizing, in 2020, a call for tenders to sell Grignon, a vast and beautiful domain which, about twenty kilometers from Versailles, includes a 17th century castle.e century, 130 hectares of agricultural land, and more than 133 hectares of woods. Four candidates responded and, at the end of July, Altarea Cogedim’s offer, valued at 18 million euros, was accepted. The promoter plans in particular to build on site a hundred housing units, a retirement home, a residence for the elderly, and to host seminars and various events in the castle, listed as historical monuments.

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But, over time, this scenario arouses growing reluctance. Students, alumni stepped up, and the site was blocked for three weeks. Environmentalists are shouting at the “Concreteization” of an emblematic domain, while on the contrary, it would be necessary to preserve agricultural land and improve the food autonomy of Ile-de-France. The Communists and La France insoumise see it as a new gift to the “Developers thirsty for land and public goods”. The right and the local elected officials are also mobilizing against a project dictated by the direction of the real estate of the State, from Bercy, without associating them. Even before the contract is awarded, Senator (Les Républicains, LR) Sophie Primas warns the Minister of Agriculture, Julien Denormandie: “Be careful, this issue is emblematic of everything that we reproach Macronie: we say that we listen to the territories, and we do the opposite. ” The President (LR) of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, for his part seizes Jean Castex.

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The state temporarily gives up privatizing the Grignon estate