In October we reported on our attempt to collectively buy the police tower of Antwerp. Together with hundreds of citizens we made renovation plans, exploitation models, convinced investors, and gathered anchor tenants. But the fact that another consortium of investors could buy the tower for the single reason that they had the highest bid (without a single plan or idea about the conversion of the building) proved our initial point that when a city puts buildings that size and impact on the market, they should ask for – and even demand – a qualitative plan instead of a single highest bid. There is no guarantee that the investor with the highest bid, also has the best plans for this building and neighbourhood.
Our collective was not able to buy the tower within this kind of bidding procedure, but succeeded in challenging conventional real estate development and putting this topic on the national spatial policy agenda. The Head Town Planner and Architecture Institute of Flanders awarded our action-research with the ‘BWMSTR label’ (http://www.vlaamsbouwmeester.be/nl/instrumenten/bwmstr-label-007) which implied they wanted to give visibility and support to our project because it is relevant for spatial policy in Flanders.