The go-ahead was given for the Euroméditerranée project in 1996. This is the largest State-financed operation since the construction of the Défense business district in Paris, remodelling an entire urban area stretching from La Joliette to the area around the St. Charles railway station. The French government, Marseille city council, the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region, the Bouches-du-Rhône department and the Urban Community have formed an association to create a veritable European centre to promote and develop trade.
Euroméditerranée is an economic development and planning operation. Its purpose is to develop the coastal area by rehabilitating a business district, and by incorporating a vast property development programme including the construction of new housing. The work is programmed to take roughly 20 years, and the first results can already be seen: renovation of the Docks and Place de la Joliette, construction of new residential and office buildings in an audacious architectural style, opening of the Gaston Defferre departmental library and archives.
The five major centres of activity:
- Belle de Mai focused on creativity and conviviality. The Friche Belle de Mai provides venues for events and exhibitions, studios for artists, and accommodation. It houses the municipal archives, a multimedia centre (with the Cinema Bureau and the film studios), CICRP (Inter-regional centre for Heritage Conservation & Restoration) and archives of the national audiovisual institute (INA).
- St.Charles-Porte d’Aix: This area will concentrate institutional and university activities, commercial businesses and will bring an improvement in transport.
- Arenc: An economic development area, providing a wide range of residential and office buildings.
- La Joliette: Groups together economic activities, housing and trade.
- Saint-Jean : This crossroad of ideas and knowledge will house the National Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations.