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Proximus considers vacating iconic Brussels headquarters

The Proximus Tower in Brussels (BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND)
08:01 03/11/2020

Telecommunications giant Proximus is considering moving out of its Brussels headquarters, the famous Proximus tower.

The company expects remote work to continue beyond the coronavirus pandemic and therefore considers the premises to be far too large for its future operations. It is a decision that many other companies could take.

Proximus will move to a new head office sometime between 2023 and 2025, it has been reported recently, but it is unlikely that the new headquarters will be anything as big as the 105,000m²' "twin towers'"the company currently inhabits close to the North Station.

The Proximus tower, built in 1988, has room for 4,000 to 5,000 employees, but nowadays only a few hundred people come to the office. It is expected that, after the corona pandemic, that number may increase but Proximus believe that teleworking will remain important and so downsizing of office space will become practical and necessary.

This is something the Flemish government is also considering, with reports stating that it intends to sell about 40 buildings over the next six years, as it makes teleworking a long-term priority.

There are other companies that think this way, according to Ronny Nuten, who has specialised in office real estate for 20 years, and currently runs the office division of real estate company Ceusters.

"Until now, companies have seen telework as 'a day of working from home'. The fixed chair in the office remained there, waiting,” he says. “Gradually though, companies with 100 employees are starting to reduce to 80 workplaces. In the future, this will go even further."

According to reports, when the Proximus building is sold, the most realistic scenario is to strip the buildings down to their concrete frame ahead of a redevelopment. Housing may be considered as a possibility for the vacant building.

The Brussels government has been trying for several years to break the monoculture of offices that made the area around the North Station one of the least pleasant neighbourhoods in Brussels.

A steering committee has been set up to discuss the transformation of the North district - and an online survey has been launched asking for people's opinions - local residents, office workers, traders and passers-by. The consultation runs until 7 December.

"The dynamic, the partners and the political will is there to make the North district better: a living and thriving neighbourhood with a human dimension," said state secretary for urban planning Pascal Smet.

Written by Nick Amies