Long disparaged for its neighbourhoods with multicultural leanings and with numerous areas that had become impoverished over the years, Saint-Gilles now seems to be getting back onto its feet and returning to its former glory.
Adored by a “bobo” population with significant purchasing power, Saint-Gilles has not always had the wind in its sails and has not merited the attention it might have received. Indeed, in the course of the 90s, Saint-Gilles was able to charm a number of investment pioneers, seasoned speculators with a keen eye and a strong sense of heritage, who snapped up dream locations for themselves in the various neighbourhoods that make up this small commune in the south of Brussels
In this letter, we will discuss what has made Saint-Gilles what it is today. We will offer an overview of the various landmark districts in Charles Piqué’s commune, and we will take a brief look at the Saint-Gilles market, including a few key figures.
The triple positive effect
Prior to the 90s, Saint-Gilles was a mere shadow of its former self. From its southernmost tip, which is frequently referred to as “upper Saint-Gilles” to its northernmost point, which is, logically, known as “lower Saint-Gilles”, the commune seemed to the inhabitants of Brussels to be an area with a high level of insecurity, difficult and devoid of any cultural significance. Over the years, however, its landscape and population have changed for the better, and property prices have kept pace, sometimes reaching (mainly in the upper Saint-Gilles area) the averages enjoyed by its sister municipality Ixelles.
But how could such a turnaround be effected so quickly? How was it possible for this commune, which was performing poorly like some other communes in the North, to bounce back and match the already well-established adjacent communes?
The contagion effect
Indeed, as the 90s and 2000s progressed, property prices in certain districts in Uccles and, above all, in Ixelles literally exploded, prompting some of its residents to move elsewhere. It is, therefore, quite natural that these residents, wishing to maintain a foothold in this part of Brussels, and anxious to remain close to their centres of interest, have settled in the upper part of the Saint-Gilles commune, slowly, but surely, promoting this new focal point.
The architectural heritage
The town hall in the centre of Place Van Meenen, where the Volders district and the Blérot complex are located, is an excellent example of this. All these buildings, long-abandoned, were just waiting to be renovated and taken in hand. This most attractive housing stock could not but support the keen interest in this commune, which was induced by the contagion effect.
The ideal location
The two principal ones are the one around the town hall, which has been occupied by a young, upwardly mobile and heterogeneous population for several years now, and the Parvis Saint-Gilles district with bars and restaurants located on the ground floors of building as majestic as they are distinctive.
Together, these three criteria have made and will continue to make, Saint-Gilles a prosperous community whose positive growth can only increase. Moreover, if we consider the contagion effect from which the upper part has benefited thus far, it is easy to hope, without making too many hasty predictions, that the lower part will follow, and this still provides many opportunities for capital gains for investors who are willing to adopt a somewhat speculative profile.
Saint-Gilles in a few figures:
|Price increase over the last five years (in %)||Half of the properties sold for between (in €)||2019 selling price (in €)|
|Houses||29||323,750 – 606,250||452,500|
|Apartments||14||180,000 – 325,000||231,000|