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Florence, Manifattura Tabacchi: a new era. Houses, jobs and culture

12 April, La Repubblica

Finally, there is a masterplan for Manifattura Tabacchi. The extraordinary maintenance works will start by 2018, as announced the Mayor of Florence Nardella. “The works will be completed in three years. A lot will depend on how the market will react, but we can adjust according to the necessities”, assured Giovanni Manfredi, Italy Managing Director for Aermont Capital Llp, the real estate company headquartered in London, with 4 billion-euro available capitals. The company invested 400 million in Florence through a collaboration with the Student Hotel for the requalification of the old factory Manifattura Tabacchi thanks to a joint venture with Cassa Depositi e Prestiti. Upon completion, the spaces will be sold or let according to the destination decided by the masterplan and approved by the Municipality. The City of Florence will take care of the urban planning as the works proceed under its supervision. Yesterday Manfredi presented the masterplan at the presence of the Mayor, the real estate division of Cdp Salvatore Sardo, and the architects of the Dutch architecture studio Concrete Architectural Associates that signed the project, Rob Wagemans and Erikjan Vermeulken. The supervisor Pessina was also present, as well as the Progenia Ceo Giovanni Belloni, in charge of the commercial part of the project.

The investment amounts to 200 million and it will concern the requalification of 100 thousand Sq m, 6 hectares of land and the 16 buildings of one of the finest examples of the architectural rationalism of the 30es and 40es. The complex was designed by Pier Luigi Nervi and it was closed down in 2001. As Manfredi explained, its essence will be kept while it will be reinterpreted looking at the future. The purposes of the property are various: social meeting, culture, education, residences, crafts and workplaces. “There will be no space for speculation”, stresses the Mayor. While Sardo comments: “We bought the property in 2002, we’ve been patient. Now it’s important to finish the works in a reasonable time”. Afterwards, Cdp may also leave.

The first tenant to have already signed the contract with a potential purchase option is Polimoda. The fifth fashion school in Europe and the first in Italy will open its third branch and will move in 2019 2,000 students in a 6 thousand Sq m space. Starting already from October, the school will temporarily occupy 1,000 Sq m in the former warehouse. There are in total 31,000 Sq m for education, offices, coworking, 24,000 for hospitality, 12,500 for businesses and workshops, 29,500 for residences, while only 4,300 Sq m will be demolished. The project includes a big covered square at the centre, a garden, two yards, pedestrian and cyclable lanes, a brewery, a cinema, a theatre. In the meanwhile, the requalification works for the Puccini theatre have also been granted.

The vision of the Dutch architects is “a centre outside the centre, open and connected”. Walls and fences will be torn down, not doors, but only free entries. Nardella says happily: “A new life for Manifattura. The investment will create 3,400 jobs with a 700-million-euro turnover. This is the greatest urban regeneration projects of the last 20 years”. The former factory has a crucial location, connecting the east to the west and the north to the south, it will be served by a tramway line, plus a cyclable lane between Novoli, Manifattura and Florence city centre.

Source: La Repubblica

Translator: Cristina Ambrosi

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