Court Halts LVMH's La Samaritaine Renovation … Again

A Paris court of appeals has dealt LVMH Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton yet another blow in the the long-delayed $559 million makeover of Paris department store La Samaritaine, a landmark building owned by LVMH. In this week's ruling, the court confirmed a May 2014 administrative court decision revoking the permit to renovate a portion of the 145-year-old building, closed since 2005, an LVMH spokeswoman said. 

The renovation, which will be funded entirely by LVMH, is intended to transform La Samaritaine into a multi-use 70,000 square-meter complex with a luxury hotel, designer stores, duty free shops and office space. According to LVMH, which serves as parent company to Louis Vuitton, Dior, Givenchy, and Loewe, among other brands, La Samaritaine and LVMH will now appeal to the Council of State, France’s highest administrative court.

The battle over the future of La Samaritaine, which was acquired by LVMH in 2001, started in 2005 when La Samaritaine was forced to close for safety reasons. LVMH says the project will create 2,100 jobs and was approved by the relevant government and local authorities. The redeveloped site was due to open next year. However, the proposed renovations have been met with resistance from early on from The Society for the Protection of Landscape and Aesthetics of France, and SOS Paris, which alleged that the planned renovations do not respect Paris’ visual character, as the plans by Japanese architecture firm Sanaa including the building of a massive undulating glass facade over a part of the building. In May 2014, the lower court cancelled one of the renovation permits, saying the glass wall "clashed" with the look of the other buildings in the area.

In the most recent hearing on Monday, the court held that the new building "did not comply with the obligation to fit the planned construction into its urban surroundings."