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'French Pentagon' on flood plain

Defence site to be built in the Balard area of Paris's 15th arrondissement on a flood plain.

A ‘‘FRENCH Pentagon” is to be built by 2014 in the Balard area of Paris’s 15 arrondissement on a flood plain.

The siting of the colossal new project, which will house services now scattered among 12 Ministry of Defence sites in Paris, is controversial, as is its cost to the state: about €3 billion euros, spread over the years 2014-41.

The scheme is to be carried out in a public-private partnership with either Bouygues, Eiffage or Vinci, which will each be invited to put in final bids in January next year, for selection in the spring.

According to Bruno Viellefosse, in charge of the project, all technical equipment will be kept out of harm’s way from the kind of floods that typically take place once a decade, while an underground army operations centre will benefit from a special protective casing.

On the financial side, the government expects to make €700-800 million from the sale of eight of the old sites that will be freed up, while the running costs should be less than the current ones.

The new 300,000m2 site will house most of the Defence Ministry’s administrative staff, about 10,000 people.

The ministry hopes that it will gain prestige from having an emblematic building, allow for better communication between staff and create better working conditions.

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