The City of Antwerp launches a market call for the commercial implementation of the Bonapartedok in the Eilandje neighbourhood of town. It should become a centre for water sports (literally) and recreation.
The city council decided to organize a market call for the commercial implementation of the Bonaparte Dock – yes, named after Napoleon Bonaparte – in which water recreation and water experience are central. This call fits in with the City Port Plan 2020-2030, a plan with which the city wants to further develop this unique city port area.
In response to the City Port Plan 2020-2030, the city is looking for a new destination for the historic Bonaparte Dock, located in one of the most attractive parts of the city, with the Museum Aan de Stroom (MAS) as an eye-catcher.
An initial market survey was conducted in the spring of 2021 with the aim of gauging interest among private players in the market. Now the effective call is launched to assign a commercial operator for the Bonaparte Dock.
Mayor Bart De Wever (N-VA): “Antwerp has a rich culture of enjoyment and is the sports capital of Flanders. Linking these two aspects of Antwerp’s DNA to strengthening our bond with the water is the greatest ambition for our city port. With this decision, we are therefore looking for a fully-fledged interpretation for the Bonaparte Dock, with room for water, sports and enjoyment.”
On the one hand, the city will open up the central water surface for water recreation. On the other hand, the intention is to give the dock a high-quality commercial interpretation along the quays in the form of commercial berths (for example floating pontoons) that are in line with the recreational activities. Preferably, this concerns a family recreational interpretation with water experience.
Important points for attention are of course also quality of life, safety on the water and maritime accessibility.
The candidate operator will also have to take into account the existing situation, such as the public character of the cycling and walking zone along the water, existing terraces and infrastructure, accessibility to its commercial use and safety at the water’s edge. In addition, cooperation with local partners and the catering industry is encouraged, in order to arrive at an integrated and supported plan.
In the city port plan, the Bonaparte Dock is labeled as a low dynamic dock, which lends itself perfectly to water-related events and recreation.
The dock was previously intended as a museum dock. In practice, the concrete interpretation was rather limited and it was mainly used as an event dock. As foreseen in the new city port plan, the Rhine and Inland Navigation Museum will therefore be given a new location in Houtdok-Noord, where it thematically connects to the existing church nave with its museum and the berths for inland shipping.
Due to its special history and location, the Bonaparte Dock has everything to become the heart of the Eilandje. It is surrounded by two of the most typical buildings in Antwerp: the MAS and the Loodswezen.
The ‘Friendship site‘ will be completely redeveloped to the north of the dock in due course. The adjacent Scheldt Quays, in particular around Loodswezen and Rijnkaai, will also be further redeveloped and upgraded in the coming years.
In terms of mobility, the Bonaparte Dock is ideally situated with a few tram stops, a bus stop and bicycle paths from all corners of the world nearby, there are also a few large car parks nearby. In addition, the dock is also accessible for recreational boating as a passer-by.
After all, the Willemdok (William Dock, named after King William I of the Netherlands) marina is located in the immediate vicinity.
Alderman for the Port of Antwerp, Urban Development and Spatial Planning Annick De Ridder (N-VA): “We are delighted that the starting signal has now been given for a dream of so many Antwerp residents. A literal ‘swimming dock’ in the Bonaparte Dock fits in perfectly with the aim of strengthening Antwerp’s bond with the Scheldt, water and port. We have lived with our backs to the water for too long. This initiative changes that in a nice way.”
City Port Plan 2020-2030
In 2020, the council approved this plan, which further emphasizes the interaction between city and water. The city port plan forms the policy framework for the city port and the interpretation and destination of water surfaces and quays. Much attention is paid to water experience and water recreation.
After the approval of this City Port Plan, the regulatory framework was also updated. These changes were necessary in order to be able to issue permits for city tours and other recreational activities on water. For example, numerous dinghies have already been registered that have recently been allowed to use the water surface of the urban port area in function of water experience and recreation. In addition, there are already a few entrepreneurs who will offer city tours and two recognized sailing schools are now also active in the urban port area.
After the construction of the architectural pontoon in the Kattendijkdok and after the reconstruction of the Kempisch Dok with a lowered jetty, dinghies, sailing schools and commercial city tour boats will also be able to use this new infrastructure on the public quays, jetties and pontoons.
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