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Brussels residents fight to re-open Hotel Métropole
Two residents of Brussels are working to save the Hotel Métropole from becoming an office building or a hotel chain. Benoît Vanparijs and Alexandre Lodzia Brodzki have been largely ignored by the current owners but are not giving up without a fight.
The landmark historical hotel on Place De Brouckère announced earlier this year that it was declaring bankruptcy. Having survived the dip in tourism following the 2016 terrorist attacks, it said it could not weather another storm, namely the coronavirus crisis.
The Métropole is beloved by many Bruxellois, who have taken to its plush interior for drinks or sat on its vast terrace to gaze out at the lively De Brouckère. Built in 1895, it is the only 19th century hotel still in operation in the capital.
“When I heard the unfortunate news about the closure, I immediately thought of a co-operative made up of Brussels residents and the staff at the hotel,” Brodzki, an architect, told Bruzz. “It would be a real shame to see this iconic hotel disappear or fall into the hands of one of the chains.”
Call for experts
Together with Vanparijs, a computer systems manager, he put out a call on Facebook for people with the skills to start such a co-operative to join them. The message was shared 7,000 times.
The pair have contacted the hotel’s management but were told that it was concentrating on union talks regarding severance packages for the staff. Those talks completed three weeks ago, but Brodzki and Vanparijs have still not heard from the hotel.
In the meantime, they have discovered that CBRE, a real estate development firm, have taken over the hotel’s affairs. “They are specialised in the sale of office buildings,” notes Vanparijs. “We are worried that it will be sold with an eye to turn it into something other than a hotel. We are sending a final letter requesting to meet with the management, and if we are ignored, as usual, we will take more definitive steps to secure the future of Hotel Métropole.”
Photo ©Thierry Roge/BELGA