Green Shoots for Brussels; REJUVENATED: Historic Brussels Doesn't Deserve Its Dull Image, as Lee Copson, Inset, Has Found
Byline: Cheryl Markosky
BRUSSELS is bouncing back. The picturesque Belgian capital, synonymousfor many with faceless bureaucracy, has had a less than scintillating imageover the past 30 years. Since the boom years of the Sixties and Seventies, whenmost of the Parliament buildings went up and the Eurocrats moved in, itsreputation among investors languished.
Now, though, the city is dotted with regeneration projects and its propertymarket has been rejuvenated, with much investment from British buyers.
The EU's expansion in 2004 has meant another influx of Eurocrats; 1,000 newhomes will have been created on 11 sites in the Leopold district, the so-called'European Quarter', alone by the end of next year.
Brussels's dull image is unfair. It is a sophisticated city, bilingual inFrench and Dutch, and boasting exquisite architecture, notably in the 17thCentury Grande Place, a Unesco World Heritage Site. It has more than 100museums and is a gastronomic centre.
Today, areas such as the Ixelles quarter are having a facelift, although theplanners are keeping a tight grip on development, according to Peter McCarthyof the Thornsett Group. .
grip on development, according to Peter of the Thornsett Group.
'It has a great rental community,' says McCarthy. 'We have UK buyers lookingfor long-term investments in Brussels because it offers stability. Buyers canexpect a rental yield of about five per cent.' Marc Boutefeu of local agencyImmo References says: 'People are starting to invest again, so prices haverisen by ten to 15 per cent over the past five years.' He adds: 'I think theywill go up by another five per cent this year.' Thornsett Group is marketingthree schemes in Brussels. Leopold Village in the Leopold district comprises108 studios and one to fourbedroom apartments spread over three blocks, afour-star, 150-bedroom hotel and commercial space that includes a ground andfirstfloor restaurant with huge terraces overlooking Place Jean Rey and theadjacent park. …