Joint venture ION-LIFE makes the shortlist for the redevelopment of the Cadix district in Antwerp

Redevelopment of the Cadix district The redevelopment of the former dockland district Cadix on the so-called ‘Eilandje’ (‘Islet’) in the north of Antwerp is in full swing. On a total surface of 260,000 m², the city of Antwerp plans a sustainable, phased, integrated area development. Apart from an extensive residential development, aimed at attracting new and young families, there will also be commercial properties, offices and community facilities. The current reconstruction of the residential area surrounding the ‘Kattendijk’ dock is the second stage of this massive redevelopment.Commissioning authority AG Vespa The overall management of the integrated area development of the Cadix district is coordinated by the Autonomous Municipal Company for Real Estate and City Projects Antwerp (AG Vespa). During this second stage, AG Vespa is the commissioning authority for the sale of a plot of building land with a total surface of 5,126 m². This building project, strategically located along the Londenstraat and at the gateway to the Cadix district, will determine the Eilandje’s visual identity. Furthermore, the plot also allows for a housing block overlooking the ‘Kattendijk’ dock to be built. The project aims to provide a functional mix of different housing types, as well as small-scale catering businesses, retail and offices.ION-LIFE selected for tender The sale procedure as determined by AG Vespa is about to enter a new stage. During a competition for potential buyers, held by the property management company, 17 Belgian developers submitted a proposal. One of those 17 buyer candidates was property developer ION, who joined forces with the Antwerp-based developer LIFE in the joint venture ION-LIFE. The commissioning authority has now selected three laureates with the strongest visions: Re-Vive, CIP and ION-LIFE. They are expected to present their proposed project for the development of the building plot by October 9.Sustainable development of the Cadix district ION-LIFE has designed a mixed project that supports the mission and core values of the reconstruction of the Eilandje. Both partners wish to contribute to the sustainable development of the Cadix district. This design competition offers both partners the opportunity to create a landmark for Antwerp’s Eilandje and therefore we have decided to create an iconic building that respects the historic architectural values of the Cadix district. In order to do so, ION-LIFE has selected an impressive team of architects: FVWW (Frederic Vandoninck Wouter Willems architects), De Smet Vermeulen architects, Havan-a (Haerynck Vanmeirhaeghe architects) and De Gouden Liniaal. The engineering agency Ingenium will assist ION-LIFE in safeguarding the project’s sustainability.

Waregem Business Park


5 individual office blocks


Official opening of student residence The Village in Leuven

Project developer ION paints Leuven green with a mixed project that combines students and the head office of the Davidsfonds Today, in the presence of the press and guests, the mayor of Leuven, Louis Tobback, and alderman for Spatial Planning, Carl Devlies, cut the ribbon of the new student housing complex The Village in Leuven. The new build, located on the site of the former cinema complex De Studio’s, mainly offers student housing with 246 rooms and studios. The site also houses the new head office of Davidsfonds, as well as one single-family home. A spacious and publicly accessible courtyard opens up the neighbourhood. The first premises were occupied a little over a year after the foundation stone was laid. Project developer ION celebrated the official opening with a speech by alderman Devlies, the unveiling of a plaque and a festive reception.A green student village in the city The Village is very green. At the heart of the site, totalling over 7,800 m², lies a spacious green courtyard. The remainder of the surface is occupied by seven buildings, five of which contain student rooms, with all mod cons, as well as communal areas. Centrally located in the city, within walking distance of the railway station and surrounded by catering businesses, shops and several campuses of the Leuven University, Group T and Vlerick Business School, The Village is the perfect home base for a nice generation mix of students. The residential area is combined with a tailor-made office space for Belgian publisher Davidsfonds. Their new 1,100 m² head office overlooks the Quinten Metsys square.Green meeting place The Village’s top feature is located at the centre of the site: the green courtyard offers a central meeting place in this project. During the day, part of the garden will be publicly accessible through Blijde Inkomststraat, Burgemeestersstraat and Mathildegang. Once the second stage has been completed this green area will be fitted with sports and leisure accommodation, walk paths and benches for sitting and lying down. Since the demolition of the former cinema complex, De Studio’s, the site was derelict for several years, so the garden provides the neighbourhood with a much-needed dose of oxygen. Additionally, project developer ION has included living quarters for a janitor, who will be a permanent point of contact for neighbours and who will guarantee a permanent living quality.Jaspers-Eyers Architects: an eye for functionality ION deliberately chose to work with a local partner who has the necessary expertise to mix the character of the city centre with the comfort of a new build. Renowned Leuven-based architects Jaspers – Eyers combined style, functionality and comfort into a sustainable design, which fully complies with the University of Leuven’s specifications. There is also an underground area comprising two parking garages, offering 74 car parking spaces and 298 secure bicycle racks that will help keep the surrounding streets free from lingering bicycles.Phased occupancy Project developer ION had no problems meeting the completion deadlines. In April, some 10 months after the foundation stone was laid in June 2014, the new Davidsfonds office was already in use. And a few weeks ago, just before the start of the academic year, 190 student rooms were completed. During the second stage, the former Davidsfonds office will be demolished and 56 additional student rooms will take their place. At the same time, the publicly accessible section of the garden will be completed. ION expects final completion of the project to take place in September 2016.  



54 service flats
43 underground parkings


Joint venture for Turnhout district heating network

A joint venture agreement has been signed between Turnhout town council, land developer Slim Turnhout, project developer ION, heating network operator Eandis and heating producer and supplier Veolia to develop a district heating system in the Niefhout neighbourhood. The agreement was signed in the presence of the Flemish Minister for Urban Policy, Liesbeth Homans. It will be the first district heating system in the Campine region. The aim is for the partners to join forces to approach the issue of sustainable district heating in the region as effectively as possible. IVEKA and Eandis are eager to contribute their efforts to the project.IVEKA, Eandis and district heating The technology behind district heating networks is closely related to that used for the gas supply. IVEKA and Eandis have the knowledge and manpower at hand to conduct research into heating, support the design and installation of the infrastructure, provide connections to the district heating network for the heat sources and consumers and later to guarantee the operation of the installations all the way to the heat exchanger in the customer’s home. ‘All this fits within IVEKA and Eandis’ role in taking the burden off local councils in terms of their duty to provide energy in public property,’ says Paul Gistelinck, director of Heating at Eandis.Smart, affordable energy Along with its partners ION and PMV, Turnhout town council intends to use the Slim Turnhout project to develop a new neighbourhood on old industrial sites that offers possibilities for smart living and working. ‘Our focus lies on modernisation and sustainability. We are putting that into practice here by opting for an innovative technology that provides sustainable energy,’ says Kristof Vanfleteren of project developer ION with great enthusiasm. The signing of this joint venture is a sign of the trust that the town council and the other project partners place in the distribution net operator as a partner and point of contact.Targeted investment Eandis has developed a thorough preparatory study in cooperation with all its partners to come up with a profitable business case for this project. The potential customer zones in Turnhout have been mapped out. The customers are there, and all the partners have the ambition to turn this project into a true success story. By growing step by step, we are working towards a successful district heating network, a more sustainable energy supply and increased energy efficiency in Turnhout.Sustainable energy for more than a quarter of Turnhout households In the spring of 2016, the first residents of Niefhout will already be able to benefit from their connection to the district heating network. However, ambitions clearly extend further than the area surrounding the railway station. ‘By rolling out the district heating network to other areas of Turnhout in the future, we will be able to reduce CO2 emissions in our town,’ explains the mayor, Eric Vos. ‘This is why we want to offer around 5000 Turnhout families - more than a quarter, in fact - sustainable and affordable heating through the district heating network over time’, he adds.Warmly recommended District heating is highly promising technology. It combines ‘comfortable heating’ with maximum energy efficiency. In turn, this energy efficiency helps to reduce CO2 emissions. The energy efficiency of district heating networks is also an important factor in the profitability of heating projects. Success is most likely in projects where ‘ecology’ and ‘economy’ go hand in hand. District heating networks have the flexibility to switch to the most cost-effective heat source at any given time, without requiring changes to the underlying network itself. What is more, district heating networks are suitable for both household and industrial use. The combination of possibilities is an advantage when calculating the ‘potential yield’ of investment projects. District heating networks have already been developed in many European countries: the technology is not new. The investment climate for district heating networks in Flanders is also favourable. This is why IVEKA and Eandis are eager to start working on creating district heating networks in the



55 service flats
19 underground parking places




Mixed intra-urban development  / Public-Private Collaboration


Construction of the student residence Flint in Leuven has begun

205 new student rooms to be finished by the 2016-2017 academic yearConstruction of the student residence Flint in Leuven has begunIn the centre of Leuven, on a plot of land that used to belong to the OCMW (public social welfare centre), construction has begun on the new student residence Flint. The project includes 205 student rooms, racks for 230 bicycles and 66 underground parking spaces. The project developers, ION and Allfin, have invested over EUR 25 million . The state-of-the-art student residence will be ready by the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year.In the coming years the OCMW site between Frederik Lintsstraat, Vesaliusstraat and Brabançonnestraat will be put to new use with various functions. ION and Allfin have joined forces to develop the student residence Flint on the site. Project developer Cedric Olivier at ION explains: “Today the construction of this project began. A bottle of champagne was symbolically broken against the side of a support column made of Corten steel, which is one of the main elements in the building’s architecture .”Premium architecture and a high-quality finish Flint contains 205 student rooms in a premium architectural concept by Comodo Architects of Leuven. “We have opted for a youthful living concept, with rooms grouped in units of no more than 15. There are plain rooms as well as studio flats. All the rooms will be given a high-quality finish with superior materials”, Cedric Olivier tells us.“We have also paid great attention to the communal areas, such as the wide entrance hall, a lounge, gym, pool table area and private balconies. A courtyard garden will also be created to provide the necessary peace and quiet.”The new student residence is being built by contractor Louis Dewaele-Denys. The execution of the project is a partnership with Leuven University. That means, for example, that it meets the strict requirements in terms of design, construction technique, management and safety. There will be a resident concierge, access control and individual energy metering for each living unit.The Flint project is offered to investors from a starting price of EUR 94,407. To date, 70% of the rooms have already been sold. Wilgimmo, a specialist in student accommodation rentals, will manage the property. More information about the new project can be found at more information, contact Cedric Olivier,, tel. 0476-77.84.00.



205 student rooms
studios with polyvalent space and outside green space
66 underground parkings


De Haan


70 service flats
30 underground parking places


Successful info evening – Beau de l’Air Knokke

On Thursday 11th June 2015 an info evening was held in Scharpoord Cultural Centre in Knokke to discuss the launch of a new project for accredited service flats in Knokke. These flats with services provided combine the freedom and independence of living in one’s own home with the continuity of service and care in assisted living facilities. The turnout was tremendous, with ION welcoming over 250 guests to this successful info evening. Mr Sven Vandendriessche of VDD Consultancy illustrated the healthcare landscape in Flanders, the often-discussed ageing of the population and the challenges this presents, including the need for suitable housing. The professional operator Orpea, specialised in the management and rental of integrated residential and service concepts for the over-60’s, also took to the floor to explain the range of services offered. This international group manages about 60 residences in Belgium and will deal with the rental and management of the entire complex. Finally, the real estate aspects of the Beau de l’Air project were discussed. Afterwards the guests were able to ask questions over drinks and snacks and they returned home with a goody bag full of fun gadgets such as a Frisbee, beach ball and cap.The assisted living flats in the building can be lent or purchased. The flats are recognised as service flats by the Flemish Government, which means that tax breaks apply to their purchase. Immo Lex in Knokke and Qubrik in Brussels have been appointed the estate agents for this prestigious project.The building will be constructed in Knokke on the corner of Meerlaan and Gasmeterstraat, a stone’s throw from Scharpoord Cultural Centre and in the immediate vicinity of public transport. Furthermore, an underground car park will be provided. Residence Beau de l’Air consists of two buildings linked by a patio and courtyard garden which will be a pleasant place to sit in the lovely, warm summer months. Around this patio are the luxurious shared facilities, including a gym and wellness area, a brasserie, a lounge with a library and an imposing entrance hall that opens out onto the patio.

Foundation stone laid in Vesalius project

Right beside the Groep T building in Vesaliusstraat in Leuven (part of Leuven University), the laying of the foundation stone for the new construction project Vesalius was celebrated on Wednesday 3 June. On this site, bordered by Vesaliusstraat, Tiensestraat and Brabançonnestraat, a new complex will be built in the coming months, consisting of student flats, apartments, shops and offices. What is more, an underground auditorium will be built for Leuven University, along with two cinemas for alternative films to be run by VZW FONK. Construction began a short while ago and the project will be finished in autumn 2016.The project is a co-development by ION and Allfin with the aim of giving the neighbourhood a boost. The design, by the Leuven architectural firm Jaspers-Eyers, creates a synergy between the renovated historic buildings and the new, contemporary constructions. The harmonious architecture features modern, ceramic façade tiles that have a shape and colour reminiscent of old brickwork. Attention to details like these is an example of sustainable urban renewal with respect for the historic city centre. This prestigious architectural project will also create space for a cosy inner courtyard with shops and office space.The project also addresses the high demand for quality student accommodation and apartments in the city centre. An apartment in this project will cost as little as 160 000 euro.You will find all the information about the Vesalius project at

Laying of the foundation stone in Niefhout celebrated with street party

Near the station in Turnhout, in the Belgian province of Antwerp, construction work has started on a whole new neighbourhood. This new living environment will be created on the former Foresco and Atelfond sites, with houses, apartments, restaurants, shops, offices and lots of green areas. About thirty houses and a hundred apartments will be built to begin with, with the first ones completed in the spring of 2016.The Niefhout project is part of ‘SLIM Turnhout’, a public-private partnership (PPS) between the city of Turnhout, developer ION and the independent investment company Participatiemaatschappij Vlaanderen. They are the partners who will transform the area around Turnhout station into a new neighbourhood over the coming years, where ‘smart’ living and working will become possible. The Niefhout project pays particular attention to the integration of the neighbourhood into the existing surroundings, as well as accessibility, the quality of the public spaces and social contact between the residents.The laying of the foundation stone was celebrated on Sunday morning with a street party. Developer Arne Allewaert of ION tells us all about it: “We just thought it would be appropriate, because everything in this new neighbourhood is focused on promoting the quality of life in the area and social cohesion between the residents. Today marked the beginning of the first phase of Niefhout. By next spring there will be a variety of houses with gardens here, followed by various types of apartment. And that is just the beginning. Ultimately we will create 600 homes on this site, combined with social facilities, shops, offices and a new public space covering more than 20,000 m2, featuring green areas and all kinds of facilities for families with children as well as for senior citizens.”The project was preceded by an extensive study phase, partly to make sure the buildings would fit seamlessly into the existing environment but also to arrange the public area in such a way that the neighbourhood would be able to become a close community once more. “And we wanted to give local people, along with possible future residents of the new neighbourhood, a taste of that today. At the street party they could enjoy a snack and a drink with live music by a local band, as well as get a bird’s eye view of the whole city of Turnhout from a height of 50 metres in the ‘Sky-Watch’. Niefhout needs to become a pleasant place to live, without too much traffic thanks to the underground car parks. This means there will be plenty of space for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as opportunities to get together in the public space,” Arne Allewaert of ION explains.The new area has been developed by the Antwerp firm POLO Architects (Poponcini & Lootens). The houses and apartment blocks will have a sleek, timeless architecture, with red-brown bricks and living roofs. Bureau B+B from Amsterdam designed the public space. Energy efficiency and affordability are two important aspects of the Niefhout project. A family house in the new neighbourhood will be available from as little as 199,000 euros. All the information about the new neighbourhood can be found at (in Dutch).For more information, please contact Arne Allewaert,, +32 (0)471 55 55 78.

The Village


7 buildings with 246 student rooms
1.100 m² commercial space for Davidsfonds
74 underground parkings
298 underground bicycle sheds



108 service flats
64 underground parking places
Carrefour Express




68 appartments
60 studios
10 retail units
movie theater
174 underground parkings

The city of Turnhout and ION go for ‘smart’ mobility with new cambio station in Niefhout

The city of Turnhout and project developer ION have decided to structurally integrate a car sharing station in a new housing development in Niefhout, the first time this has ever been done in Belgium. This way, the city council and the project developer make a statement by opting for sustainable mobility. With a starter package, new inhabitants of the development get access to the car sharing system, making the purchase of a (second) car unnecessary.The city of Turnhout and ION will work together with car sharing service cambio Vlaanderen.Niefhout is a new housing development on the former FORESCO site between the Guldensporenlei and the Diksmuidestraat.Cheaper and less hassleCar sharing has many advantages. Individual users are offered an alternative to using their own car. Not only is opting for car sharing cheaper for those who don’t use their car very often (driving less than 10,000 kilometres a year), it also takes away a lot of hassle (no paperwork for the insurance, no maintenance…).Fewer parking problemsThe city also benefits from car sharing. "Every shared car takes 13 privately owned cars off our streets. That way, car sharing helps solve our city's parking problems. In addition, cambio users more often take their bike or make use of public transport", says councillor Marc Boogers, responsible for mobility.Car sharing in housing development regulationsBecause of this win-win situation, the city of Turnhout has structurally embedded car sharing in the development regulations for Niefhout. Specifically, project developer ION commits to providing a car sharing station for at least one shared car and promoting it among the inhabitants of the new development.Pioneers in BelgiumWith this structural measure, the city of Turnhout plays a pioneering role in Belgium. Never before has the concept of car sharing been structurally integrated in the permit procedure of a new housing development in this way.The sixth cambio car in Turnhout is on its wayFor the practical implementation and on-site organisation, ION closed a deal with car sharing company cambio. This organisation is already active in Turnhout with five shared cambio cars, distributed over five stations.The extra station in Niefhout will be integrated in this offer. This means the 150 other cambio users in Turnhout will also be able to make use of these cars. An introduction package will give new inhabitants of the development the chance to discover car sharing.Focus on 'smart' mobilityThe innovative choice to structurally integrate car sharing in this housing project combined with its location close to Turnhout station and the city centre, ensures that the focus of the project is on 'smart' mobility (public transport, biking, car sharing).That focus is in line with Slim Turnhout's vision, which also encompasses the new housing development of Niefhout. Slim Turnhout is a cooperation between the city of Turnhout, ION and PMV, an independent investment company. Together, they will transform the area around Turnhout's rail station into a new neighbourhood allowing for 'smart' living and working to develop.About cambioCambio car sharing is a flexible scheme that provides cars day and night on several locations in the city (for both individuals and for organisations and companies). The cars can be booked in advance and collected at one of the car sharing stations. How much you pay, depends on how much you use the car (time and distance). As a cambio user, you also have access to all the other cars in other cambio cities in Belgium.More informationFor more information on cambio car sharing, please call cambio on +32 70 222 292 or visit more information on Niefhout, please visit

ION launches the Premier Development Fund

Property developer ION launches the Premier Development Fund“Our ambitions for growth are taking shape with a new name and a new development fund”Property developer and investor Hecta has a new name: ION. The launch of the Waregem company’s new name marks the beginning of a new phase of growth. “We’ve drawn up an ambitious strategy for growth, and our new Premier Development Fund plays a crucial role in it,” explain ION’s managing partners Davy Demuynck and Kristof Vanfleteren. “Our company and our workforce are ready for this major challenge. The new name reflects this for the general public.”In 2011, property specialists Davy Demuynck and Kristof Vanfleteren founded the company Hecta with the backing of two experienced businessmen, founding partners Paul Thiers and Jan Ruysschaert: “We’ve always aimed to specialise in complex mixed projects involving both residential and commercial properties. ION now has all the experience we need for project development, whether private or PPP: we can rely on a team of ten people with the necessary technical, legal, commercial, financial and fiscal knowledge.”Hecta renamed ION“The company has grown a great deal over the last few years. To continue this success, we’ve expanded our team and now we’re changing our name to ION. It’s a Greek word meaning going. We chose it because we are continually evolving,” explains Mr Demuynck. “There’s no change to our pledge to our clients and investors: highly professional service delivery for every property project.”In a little over three years, ION has built up an extensive portfolio, today comprising fifteen property projects all over Belgium. The Village, for example, a project in the city of Leuven, combines construction of the new headquarters of the organisation Davidsfonds and 250 student rooms. In the city of Turnhout, ION is redeveloping a whole district close to the station and the new marina as part of an innovative urban PPP project. This autumn will see the beginning of work on Beau de l’Air, a project comprising 55 assisted living homes. This new build, covering an area of 6.000 m², involves investment of more than 20 million EUR.More larger projectsION is confident in the future, and remains ambitious. Mr Vanfleteren: “We want to add more larger projects to our portfolio. We recently established the Premier Development Fund to achieve this goal. The fund has a dual aim: on the one hand we want to offer our investors customised solutions, and on the other we’re determined to develop sustainable projects that provide substantial added value for end users.”Sustainability is ION’s watchword. It places great emphasis on buildings’ architecture and environmental features in every one of its projects. “Buildings that blend into their surroundings represent direct, major added value for developments in urban areas,” add the managing partners, “What’s more, the environmental footprint of our buildings is identified right from the start. By using the latest technologies we can limit total costs for future users and environmental impact. This is the added value we want to create for all those involved.”For more information please contact Davy Demuynck or Kristof Vanfleteren, ION, +32 056‑62 50 50, or



109 student rooms
32 underground parking places
retail unit



93 student rooms
40 underground garage boxes
6 townhouses

Project subsidised by town renovation fund

The SLIM Turnhout project has been awarded a subsidy from the 2014 town renovation fund. Following a proposal by Liesbeth Homans, the Flemish Minister for Cities, on 12 December 2014 the Flemish Government approved subsidies totalling more than 12.2 million EUR to four projects in Antwerp, Ghent, Turnhout and Vilvoorde.The selected project are as follows:Ghent, Winter Circus (3.223.380 EUR) Antwerp, Nieuw Zuid – Smart City District (3.223.380 EUR) Vilvoorde, Broek, community development engine in Watersite (3.223.380 EUR) Turnhout, SLIM Turnhout (project subsidy 2.558.860 EUR)The aim of SLIM Turnhout is to convert the sites of former industrial companies Foresco and Atelfond, which are centrally located to the west of the railway and the station. Turnhout municipal authorities, PMV and ION aim to use the space to develop a sustainable multifunctional project with room for 600 new homes, a residential care facility, some 25.000 m² of office space and public services. Most parking is underground, allowing for a real emphasis on public spaces. Pending full completion of the construction, the area can be used by the local community. This temporary arrangement is intended to form a link between the surrounding residential areas and to act as a catalyst to increase residents' involvement and create a dynamic social fabric in the future.SLIM Turnhout will be an experimental space, aiming to respond to the changes in the care paradigm. Its goal is to create an environment that cares for residents through social innovation, a first for Flanders. The concept developed by VITO (a Flemish organisation for technological research) and the Thomas More Kempen university college wants to put into practice the idea of a caring community: a community where residents are strongly encouraged to share as many activities as possible. This included taking care of each other and their neighbourhood.More information at and (first section now for sale).



54 service flats
43 underground parkings

Launch of Turnhout station district conversion

On the former sites of Foresco and Atelfond, between Merodelei and Guldensporenlei, a brand new district will be created: 'Niefhout'. Sale of its first homes began on 25 October. Construction work will begin in spring 2015, and the first residents will be able to move in one year later.  Three parties joined forces for this project: Turnhout municipal authorities, developer ION and Participatiemaatschappij Vlaanderen (PMV).Together they undertook renovation of the Turnhout station district, which covers a total area of approximately 7,8 hectares. As part of the SLIM Turnhout venture, they will work together over the coming years to create a new district for smart living and working (slim is Dutch for smart).Development will be phased. The first phase involves construction of 26 homes with gardens and 80 apartments on the former site of Foresco, between Diksmuidestraat and Guldensporenlei. Houses, studios and apartments, with one, two or three bedrooms will be put on sale.This district will become an agreeable place to live thanks to its prime location by the station, the new marina, the Warande cultural centre and shopping streets, as well as more than 20.000 m² of newly converted public space, a games area and plenty of greenery. There will be little traffic, and most parking will be underground.Well-known Antwerp architects' firm POLO Architects (Poponcini & Lootens) has chosen modern, imposing architecture that will please the young and the not so young alike. Houses and apartment buildings will be built in red-brown brick - a nod to the site's industrial past - with living roofs. A deliberate decision was made to build affordable, energy efficient houses.Extra attention has been paid to accessibility, for both partners with pushchairs and persons with reduced mobility. And a new district needs new street names. So far there are two: Dokter Nand Peetersstraat and Bouwschen Pad. They lead to Guldensporenlei and Diksmuidestraat respectively.Estate agents are holding a launch event on 25 October 2014. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. the project will be presented to everyone who is interested, and sales will start. A press conference is scheduled for 11 a.m., with a welcome speech given by alderman Francis Stijnen.Come along and join in!Practical information:11 a.m., Saturday 25 October 2014Foresco site, Guldensporenlei, TurnhoutMore information at,

Herman Van Rompuy inaugurates student residence

Herman Van Rompuy, the outgoing European President, travelled to Kortrijk yesterday afternoon to open Gouden Rivier, Vives university college's new international student residence. The facade of the building will soon be decorated with a haiku he has composed.The student residence on Beheerstraat and Meerstraat was built by ION, a property developer headquartered in Waregem. With its 96 rooms, including 18 double rooms, it is intended primarily for the ever-growing group of overseas students moving to the south of Wast Flanders to study. Although supply slightly exceeds demand, these students sometimes have trouble finding an affordable room quickly.Because of this, the municipal authorities granted a building licence despite a construction ban. "The students in the town centre create a lively atmosphere, and this district is going to see more major changes in the years ahead: a room for parties, a new swimming pool and an events venue on the scale of Ghent's Sint-Pieter Square," says burgomaster Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open Vld).Despite his demanding schedule as President of the European Council, Mr Van Rompuy found the time for a tour of Kortrijk. "Don't I have anything better to do?" he asked himself, and then gave three good reasons for coming to Kortrijk. "My wife was born here and went to school here, everything to do with Europe is of great interest to me, and so is everything to do with teaching," he explained, also stating that he would like to teach more once he has completed his term as European President at the end of this year.Mr Van Rompuy had written a haiku for the opening (free translation):"The European house of the young On the Gouden Rivier of Kortrijk A home full of dreams"The haiku will be displayed on the facade of the residence, which is already fully booked for the first semester. It will house students of fifteen different nationalities.