Defending a lost cause?

The management of the contradictions of a great project of urban renewal in the metropolitan area of Lille (2007–2015)
By Clément Barbier

This article explores a great project of urban renewal that combines the goals of “metropolitan attractiveness” promotion and place-based social development: the Union project in the north-eastern part of the metropolitan area of Lille. Based on ethnographic interviews and on the observation of the work of the professionals in charge of its implementation, the analysis is concerned with the contradictions that structure the Union project and the way the public developers manage them and give them sense. Being aware of their incapacity to actually influence the location decisions of firms that come from outside the urban area, the project managers have a changeable relationship—sometimes disillusioned, sometimes re-enchanted—with the mission they inherit, which is partly impossible to achieve.

  • urban renewal
  • metropolitan attractiveness
  • professionals of urban planning
  • metropolitan area of Lille
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