Alternative economy shopping centre planned for Dijon, France  

Alternative economy shopping centre planned for Dijon, France  

A new type of shopping centre that aims to address both environmental and social concerns is being planned for the eastern French city of Dijon. Known as the “Cité de l’autre économie,” or city of the alternative economy, the centre is expected to open in 2016.

The “Cité de l’autre économie” project has been under development for two years. The shopping centre will include shops and services that will seek to encourage sustainable consumption on the part of shoppers by offering sustainable products. It will include organic bakeries and supermarkets, and services such as laundrettes and creches. The objective of the centre is to promote the values of sustainability, social integration and the circular economy. The centre itself will be constructed of sustainable and recycled materials, and will be socially inclusive, with, for example, initiatives that take account of the needs of people with disabilities.

The prime mover behind the project is ENVIE, a social enterprise that repairs, reconditions and resells household appliances such as fridges and dishwashers. ENVIE and one of its founder members, SEB, a group that produces small household appliances, wanted to look at alternative models of consumption. Agostino Burruni, head of the “Cité de l’autre économie” project, says that they found inspiration in Rome in the “Città dell’altra economia,” a 4,500 square metre commercial space started in 2007 that is dedicated to sustainable development, organic farming and sustainable mobility.

The “Cité de l’autre économie” is still in the finalisation stage. The project has brought together a range of partners, including the regional council of Burgundy, the city of Dijon, social enterprises and associations, and large companies such as EDF and the banks. There is European Union-level involvement, with some financial support provided by EU regional development funds in France, the EU URBACT sustainable urban development programme, and through ERASMUS+ for support to social inclusion and training. The total cost of the “Cité de l’autre économie” is estimated at €11 million, with €8-9 million so far committed, according to Burruni, who is very confident that the project will become a reality. The occupancy rate of the centre is growing, with 15 shops so far signed up. The occupancy rate should soon reach 70%, with the addition of a large organic supermarket. This will focus on speciality brands, and on more well-known supermarket brands that are reorientating towards sustainability.

The centre will have a strategic position near the city centre and close to main shopping streets. The developers behind the project want to avoid if possible the use of heavy trucks entering the city centre to supply the shopping centre, and will instead establish a warehouse from where the “Cité de l’autre économie” can be supplied in particular through the use of electric vehicles. The employment of persons with disabilities will also be emphasised in the logistics for the centre.

More information

  • ENVIE website