Louvre-Lens, the outpost of the Parisian museum in Northeast France, has been dragged into a local controversy. The tenants of 20 miners’ cottages directly facing the museum are soon to be evicted to make room for a luxury hotel, La Voix du Nord reports.
The hotel project was in the pipeline before the Louvre offshoot opened its doors in 2012. “To prepare for the Louvre-Lens, the State, the Region … thought about the potential economic benefits. That’s how the idea of transforming miners’ housing into a hotel came about,” the director of the social housing organization Maisons et Cités, which is in charge of the building, told the local newspaper.
The decline of the mining industry turned Lens into a depressed area, and many locals hoped that the new museum would trigger a “Guggenheim Bilbao effect,” bringing tourism and wealth to the region.
Maisons et Cités will rehouse the tenants. The organization asked them to take a look at the properties in its portfolio, and assured the residents that their choices will take priority. But some of the tenants have been living in the soon-to-be-vacated houses for decades, and they are not willing to go without a fight.
“I have lived here since March 12, 1973, with my wife and my five children,” Daniel Lourdel told LVDN. “I want to die here; it will take a gun to kick me out. Moving is out of the question!”
Maisons et Cités will carry out the refurbishment works for the hotel, which could start as early as next summer. The hotel is to be managed by Esprit de France, a company specialized in high-end establishments.