“A special flavor”… A building comes back to life thirteen years after a fire

It took almost thirteen years. Bruised by a violent fire occurred the night of the Fête de la Musique in 2010, the Saint-Michel island has long displayed its scars caused by the flames and the water used by the firefighters. Stuck in disputes with neighbours, the emblematic half-timbered buildings in the historic center of Rennes were caulked under tarpaulins to protect themselves from the rain. Over time, site palisades had even been installed in case the whole complex came to collapse, blocking the entrance to the famous rue Saint-Michel. After having fed for more than a decade on the urine of revelers on rue de la Soif, the block regained a more decent face this Wednesday with the inauguration of Orée des Lices, the latest real estate program that remained to be delivered. “This moment has a special flavor”, recognizes Nathalie Appéré.

Since the fire in 2010, the one who was then first assistant to Daniel Delaveau has been personally involved in ensuring that Place Saint-Michel is renovated. “I do not count the number of crisis meetings around this file,” says the elected socialist.

The Saint-Michel block in Rennes, seen here in 2013, has long suffered from rain and bad weather. -Google Maps

Entrusted to the public developer Territoires, the site dragged on due to numerous disputes with the owners of neighboring buildings, who were slow to carry out the consolidation work necessary to launch the site. “We have enriched our knowledge of litigation. And no doubt enriched those who had to deal with them, ”slips Nathalie Appéré with a half-smile.

Entrusted to developer Giboire in 2014, the new building project took nine years to materialize. On Wednesday, the 13 apartments and the business on the ground floor were inaugurated, much to the relief of the real estate boss. “When the city launched the competition, I was the only one at home who wanted to take part. I was told it was too small, too expensive, too complicated,” recalls Michel Giboire. Almost entirely designed in wood, the building does not have much in common with its predecessors but has the merit of resuming the verticality of the beams. We can blame it for a somewhat dark exterior. “This building is beautiful. He gives the impression that he has always been in the landscape. But it’s true that it’s the opposite of what there was before, ”slices Michel Giboire.

Place Saint-Michel in Rennes, disfigured by a fire that occurred in 2010. Here photographed in September 2018.
Place Saint-Michel in Rennes, disfigured by a fire in 2010. Here photographed in September 2018. – C. Allain / 20 Minutes

Still under construction, the building will soon host an aesthetic institute on its ground floor. Virtually freed from barriers and construction machinery, it will above all be able to give the square the space it deserves. An ideal location to enjoy a drink on the terrace after a trip to the Lices market on Saturday morning, as it was before the fire. “It’s not just any building. It is the heir to a story, it is also a memory of this terrible fire, ”says Nathalie Appéré. Above all, it is the end of a construction site that seemed never to be able to start. Here, a new story is being written.

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