The shopping mall project

The threat of a huge shopping mall hangs over Ferney-Voltaire, the Gex area and neighbouring Switzerland.

The project involves the redevelopment of the neighbourhood known as “La Poterie” at the entrance to Ferney-Voltaire (from the Geneva direction through the Grand-Saconnex customs).  This redevelopment was first considered over ten years ago, but the project has greatly evolved since then.

The Société  Publique Locale Terrinov (Terrinov local public company) was set up by the Communauté de Communes du pays de Gex (Community of municipalities in the Gex area) and was charged with implementing the work of the “Ferney-Genève Innovation” Zone d’Aménagement Concerté (Joint development zone).  The president of the company is Vincent Scattolin, Mayor of Divonne.  After  tender, the contract was awarded to Altarea-Cogedim, the foremost constructor of shopping malls in France.

The building permit, signed in July 2020, covers a shopping mall project that has become gigantic.  It now includes:

  • 63 000 m2 of floor space
  • 34 571 m2 of non-food shops
  • 4729 m2 of food halls
  • 3943 m2 of cinema
  • 3694 m2 of “cultural industries”
  • 1600 underground parking places on 3 levels.

A graphic representation taken from the building permit indicates just how huge the project is.  There will be three buildings, two of which are 25 meters high and the third is 32 meters high.

Photo montage taken from the impact study.  The picture is misleading.  The trees in the background are shown as much bigger than they are, and the “Orée de France” apartment block behind (approximately 23 meters) is shown as higher than the tallest mall building (32 meters).

The impact study envisages a mall that would receive 14 000 people a day, with 130 shops, 19 restaurants, and underground parking for 1 600 vehicles on three levels, the whole site covering almost 3 hectares.

In comparison, the Balexert mall in Geneva, thought to be the biggest in Switzerland, which has a similar number of shops (120), restaurants (15) and 2 200 parking spaces, gets 8.5 million customers a year!

Why we are angry

Beyond harmful effects on the environment, such as pollution, and destruction of the local economy, this kind of gigantic commercial project has devastating consequences for life on earth. We need to rethink this consumerist model, which promotes the purchase of all sorts of useless products at ridiculously low prices.  It is based on the continuous exploitation of natural resources, of raw materials and labour on the other side of the world.  The current health crisis is linked to this model.

We are indignant at the commercial and consumerist model behind this type of project, which is totally out of sync with the urgent need for a green transition. 

We are concerned about the destruction of the local economy and neighbourhood shops.

We are convinced that it will destroy the social connections that are so important for our well-being.

Furthermore, we are worried about the tremendous increase in traffic between Ferney and Geneva.and the ensuing pollution.  Even now, tens of thousands of residents in the Gex area cross the customs south of Ferney-Voltaire via the airport tunnel, in fact a funnel. New means of public transport (an increased-frequency bus, a tram) are not going to reduce the increasing number of cars used by prospective customers. The fact that the project includes the construction of a three-storey car park with 16 000 places proves this point.

Numerous shopping malls have closed down in recent years (whether in the United States, Germany,  France, or elsewhere).  Citizens’ opposition to this kind of project is growing.  Indeed, the Convention citoyenne pour le climat  (Citizens’ climate convention) has proposed a moratorium on the construction of new shopping malls.  Faced with a health, economic and social crisis, people want a more local and circular economy, other ways to live together.

We refuse to have a completely outmoded project – contrary to the urgent need for a green and inclusive transition and disastrous for the local and global environment – installed at the entrance to our town.

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