The Flemish Government grants Leuven 3,3 million euro for Vaartopia, a city project for the development of the Vaartkom to become a creative hotspot in Leuven and Flanders. With the granted means, Leuven and Autonoom Gemeentebedrijf Stadsontwikkeling Leuven (AGSL) will restore the historic Molens van Orshoven, purchase the Stokerij (distillery) and prepare the immense Silo's for temporary use.
"Vaartopia aims to be the answer to the creative entrepreneur's call for more affordable space", Deputy Mayor and Vaartopia project leader Mohamed Ridouani says. "This subsidy gives us the opportunity to invest in meeting areas, art centers and affordable space for entrepreneurs, cultural organisations and artists. The Vaartkom has an enormous amount of potential to further strengthen the liveliness and momentum in and around Leuven, plus it is the ideal spot for creative individuals zo co-create with KU Leuven's scientists or technical experts from imec or other spin-offs."
Together with partners such as Leuven's public services Economy and Culture, AGSL, OPEK, De Hoorn, Cas-co and of course Leuven MindGate, Leuven created a strong case which was then successfully defended in front of an independent journey and thus claiming the subsidy from Flanders funds for urban renewal.
Next to the refurbishment of the buildings, another essential part of Vaartopia is public space. "The Vaartkom is seeing less traffic while the square in front of OPEK has become a pleasant, contemporary magnet for meeting", Ridouani continues. "We're also working on Leuven-Bad (a swimming area in the Vaartkom), and the Sluispark (a new park), will be finished in the spring of 2017."
"The Vaartkom will soon be known as a breeding ground for creativity and social engagement. Let's be ambitious, a lot of things are happening right now but the best is yet to come. The realisation of Vaartopia will create a dynamic vibe which you would expect in cities like Berlin, Barcelona or Copenhagen", Ridouani concludes.