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Society

After Forceful Removal of Residents, Speculation Can Resume by Vincent Defaix

Translated Sunday 11 December 2005, by Didier

From outward appearances, the building is hardly attractive. There is a yellowish wall slotted with metal sheets, which open onto a raw concrete floor, a space overlooked by a mezzanine on the first floor. The place will need much refurbishment to make it more appropriate for accommodation, or other use. Yet about seventy persons had lived here, 4 Fraternité Street, in Paris XIX, for years. They squatted. In September 2005, the prefect authorized their removal under duress, after the owner persistently requested it. Once vacated, the building was put up for sale. The owner would likely rake in huge profits. Scandalized, Paris communist representatives will today submit a motion to Paris City Council. According to Jean Guillermoz, Paris councillor, they want the Paris Council to preempt the building, to buy it at a low price in order to rent it to associations “searching for accommodations in the French capital”.

A property speculator.
“Old factory - 578 m2 .Two-story Building, needs total refurbishment. Ideal Accommodations, Offices and Workshops”, this notice has been published in the daily newspaper "Libération" for the past ten days. The price: € 1 450 000. Based on Paris Notary Chamber’s estimations, a square meter will cost € 2 508 less than the market price of € 3 675. The owner is accustomed to speculation: he purposefully buys squatted buildings for a song, and then pressures public authorities to get the place vacated in order to sell the building with great profit margins. In short, he speculates.

In March 2002, SCI Beaufort, the building owner, bought three buildings located at 58 and 60 David-d’Angers Street, and at 4 and 4 bis Fraternité Street. Families have been living there for years. The cumulative buying price is not more than € 550 000. What a low price! The councillors of the Green Party then got worried. The trader pressured the tenants and succeeded in getting them dislodged from the first building in July 2004. In October 2004, the building was sold for € 690 000. Another turn at the end of 2005 summer: in Paris, families died by fire when the seedy hotels in which they lived burnt down. The drama roused emotion. In reply, the French Ministry of Interior decided to get these dirty places vacated under duress. And this means, by truncheon, once more. What an opportunity for SCI Beaufort which was authorized to get the building vacated. September 2, the squatted building of the Fraternité Street is stormed by a score of “cowboys”. “They got in at 7 a.m. through the first floor together with their dogs while the kids were still sleeping”, said a witness.

Communist councillors called on the city council to do something.
Jean Guillermoz, chairperson of the communist group at Paris Council, angrily commented that “By authorizing the removal, the prefect enabled the businessman to cash in huge profits without even refurbishing anything, just by mere speculation". Above all, consultations with families for new accommodations were still in progress. The latter already have other accommodations after camping for some time in a small public garden. It is certain that the building owner will easily sell his property. Located along a calm street, near Buttes-Chaumont, the building can be of interest for anybody in Paris. Last Thursday, within thirty minutes, four potential clients visited the open building. Three about-thirty-year-old people, living in Paris XI, “all of them in the cinema trade”, checked the place. “Everybody looks for such places to live in. “, commented one of them. Though, much refurbishment needed, they said before leaving. Just after came in another man, suits-and-tie, certainly, a contractor. On the pavement, Councillor Jean Guillermoz does not give up. “We will occupy the building if the owner leaves it unoccupied.” he commented. Wednesday, communist representatives summon a rally before the 4 of the Fraternité Street. So that, at last, this alleyway will merit its name.


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