A proposed epicurean street in Paris, dubbed “La Jeune Rue,” that was supposed to bring together artisanal craftsmen, top food producers, high-end restaurants and designer fashion shops to completely rejuvenate a nondescript area along the Rue du Vertbois in the Marais has turned out to be the nightmare many predicted.
Oui Always Have Paris took an in-depth look at the project, spearheaded by flamboyant financier and real estate developer Cedric Naudon, in August 2014, questioning whether the effort was a genuine attempt to improve the working-class neighborhood or was simply another gentrification project aimed at creating a culinary playground for the City’s well-to-do.
Despite such concerns, construction continued unabated–until questions about the project’s financial stability began to surface earlier this year.
Now it seems that Naudon’s grandiose plans and guarantees of financial support for all those involved with the project—from construction workers and contractors who have been involved in rebuilding much of the district to the chefs, foodmakers and craftsmen who gave up lucrative shops elsewhere to relocate here—have completely fallen apart, according to media reports.
The project was to involve nearly 40 sites just north of the Musee des Arts et Metiers on the rues du Vertbois, Volta and Notre-Dame de Nazareth. Naudon’s plans involved turning the area into a self-contained district dedicated to high-end gastronomy.
While those claims led many to worry that the project would adversely affect the working-class Parisians currently living in the area by pricing them out of rental units and creating area business they could never afford, Naudon insisted the redevelopment would be a boon to everyone. Not only did he promise that La Jeune Rue would be affordable and accessible to all, he also claimed it would create up to 200 new jobs (although he never indicated whether any of those jobs would be available to the lower-middle-class current residents of the area).
The plans seemed so impressive that Naudon amassed an impressive array of supporters, including Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and several French banks that were said to be backing the effort.
Based on the alleged support of the French banks, Naudon spent much of the past year urging dozens of people—including other real estate developers, entrepreneurs and restaurateurs—to plunge headlong into purchasing and renovating the properties at their own expense, insisting that investor funds were coming.
But it turns out all of the banks had pulled funding for the project, even as Naudon continued to promise financial support.
In February, five companies involved with the project were placed in liquidation by France’s commercial court and five others were already in receivership. At least 40 workers have gone unpaid, while as many as 80 vendors are owed money. All told, nearly $5 million in back pay and invoices remain unpaid, and likely will be so indefinitely.
It also unfortunately appears that while Naudon may be able to get away from the nightmarish project relatedly unscathed financially (it is reported that he even recently went on an extensive shopping spree in London), everyone else involved with it will pay a steep price. Some are already claiming they’ve lost everything. One developer who was repeatedly urged by Naudon to continue to invest in the project is reportedly out more than $600,000.
How much money Naudon made by coordinating the sales of the storefronts remains to be seen. But nearly all of the personal investments into the project are lost, sources say. And most of those workers and vendors currently owned money will never see a centime. Construction has stopped on the storefronts with only one new restaurant opened to date, and it’s future is uncertain. The other spaces remain empty.
What ultimately will become of the neighborhood is completely up in the air, but it’s clear that Naudon’s effort to create a one-stop-shopping district providing organic, ethically sourced, sustainable, zero-waste and eco-friendly products made and sold by only the most knowledgeable and dedicated French craftsmen is a complete bust.
It may have been from the very beginning.
And La Jeune Rue may turn out to be one of the biggest swindles to hit Paris in decades.