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Millions of Flemish support for urban renewal in Nekkerspoel (Mechelen)

Millions of Flemish support for urban renewal in Nekkerspoel (Mechelen)

With its station, Nekkerspoel is one of the most important gates to the city centre. At the same time, the ramparts (R12), the Afleidingsdijle and the elevated railway embankment form visible barriers between the two city districts. Today, the tunnel under the railway is by no means an attractive means of communication for pedestrians and cyclists.

We want to change that by dramatically improving the infrastructure. The cycling route from Antwerp stops a bit today at the station. On the rise, we want to expand the bike highway and provide better connectivity to the new shade bike infrastructure, says Bart Sommers (Open Vld), Flemish Deputy Prime Minister and title-winning mayor.

The Flemish government allowed him to unleash nearly 3.5 million subsidies for the future Nekker Nova project. “Under my authority, I am deeply committed to urban renewal. These files are always evaluated by a jury. If the money goes to a project in your city, of course that’s great,” Summers says.

Today, the bike highway still comes to a standstill at Nekkerspoel Station. © Jan van der Berry

The support, among other things, gives impetus to the reconstruction of the abduction yard at the station, the entrance to the district. The massive station building has already been given a new purpose with the arrival of the publisher behind Jeronimo Stilton’s books. Across the railroad bridge, at Lakenmakersplein, there is still much work to be done. Senam’s former furniture store has been empty for several years now.

fundamentally changing something

One of the biggest challenges for the future is changing the purpose of the Nova Building. The toy museum is still housed in this huge complex on the Nekkerspoelstraat. Plans may have been delayed by a year, but in the summer of 2023 the museum will move permanently to the new station. The area then loses an important attraction, but the city also sees potential in the place. She owns the building and the car park.

Read also: The New Toy Museum has been postponed and will not open until the summer of 2023

“With the Nekker Nova project, we can fundamentally change the important gateway that Nekkerspoel represents and the appearance of the area,” says Greet Geypen (Vld-Groen-m+), a local council member for urban renewal. The design team conducts a feasibility study for possible projects.

From the station platforms, you can admire a view of the massive mastodon that represents the Nova Building, which is today the toy museum.

From the station platforms, you can admire a view of the massive mastodon that represents the Nova Building, which is today the toy museum. © Dirk Vertumen

In the next stage, the study should form the basis for the public-private collaboration that Mechelen wants to engage in for the urban renewal project. The city sees a space to live with an emphasis on start-ups, employment, and amenities that enhance the neighborhood.

“Conversations are already underway with people who live in the area and/or own property there. The ambitions are big to make Nekkerspoel a beautiful gateway. We want to create more open spaces by creating a green square near the station,” says Alderman Gibben. But in the long run, part of the existing buildings will have to make room for this.

We don’t go for quick money.

At the moment, the cost of the entire project is estimated at 33.6 million euros. Eight million small for the city’s account. This is why Flemish subsidies are useful. “We definitely don’t go for quick cash. Then we sell the Nova building and the storage is over. No, we want a project that adds value to the neighborhood. So the developer won’t be able to do just what he wants,” explains Great Gibben. The concrete program will be worked on in the coming months.

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