Developing cities – Réalités goes all out to export its new model

The Nantes-based land developer is expanding its activities to include backing new urban developments in metropolitan areas. Already present in Rennes, Bordeaux and since September, Paris, the firm is now touching down in Casablanca.

Réalités has pulled of a tremendous coup in Nantes with its YelloPark urban renewal project. Developed in partnership with Waldemar Kita, the president of Nantes Football Club, the project will see a new stadium constructed on the site of the club’s former ground, along with a complete transformation of its immediate environment, without a single penny of public money being spent. “YelloPark has been conceived as a new space for activities and living within an architecturally and ecologically exemplary setting” explains Yoann Joubert, the CEO and founder of the Réalités Group.

Yoann Joubert, the CEO and founder of the Réalités Group.

The unprecedented financial model behind this new urban development involves the project’s backers buying land from the Nantes Metropolitan Area using a €200 million total investment to finance the 40,000-seater stadium. Two architecture firms, HKS and ATPS, were commissioned in January to produce preliminary designs for this next-generation infrastructure. With strong “smart city” ambitions, the project will be multi-faceted and diverse (including over 1,500 homes, offices, a sports complex, school) and generates energy surplus to its own needs.

Ideas laboratory

This constitutes an enormous challenge for the Nantes based developer (with a turnover of €125 million and 200 employees). It plans to use the project to trial a kind of development that adds value in a sector with “limited future prospects” and which is already “saturated” given the capacity of the market. Rather than being known as “the man who can spend the most buying up real estate”, Yoann Joubert now prefers the role of “assembler” and of property engineer bringing together a range of services nourished by the group’s smart city ideas laboratory, Réalités UB5. In the last six months, the company has expanded its operations beyond the borders of the France’s “Grand Ouest” region to take on a first project in the Ile-de-France, at Rueil-Malmaison (Hauts-de-Seine department) and indeed beyond the borders of France itself. Réalités has set up subsidiary in the Moroccan city of Casablanca to pursue its ambitions for the company’s international expansion with a view to leading “complex projects”. To finance this portfolio of projects, the group, which is listed on Euronext, raised €7.75 million in late 2017.