The Royal Villa, Oostende
BRUSSELS — The Belgian Royal Trust has decided to sell the former Royal Villa in the coastal city of Oostende.
The villa is located close to the Zeedijk at a top location in the city, but has been vacant since May 2004.
In recent months, the villa has been targeted by vandals and squatters, newspaper 'De Tijd' reported on Wednesday.
The Oostende City Council then indicated it wants the location to be used better and said it was open to changing the zoning.
On that basis, the Royal Trust decided to sell the villa and a special sales committee will be asked to draw up a property assessment.
A Royal Trust director said the adjoining King's Park which is currently being used as a Japanese garden and a normal park — will not be sold and will remain publicly accessible.
The Royal Trust expects difficult negotiations over the gallery Venetiaanse Gaanderijen, a cafe and underlying cellars because they are being used by a commercial company and Oostende council.
The villa is not protected from development and what happens to the building after the sale is in the hands of local authorities and the Flemish regional government.
However, the Oostende council wants to be kept informed about the sale and is requesting insight into the plans of the developer.
Spatial Planning Alderman Bart Bronders said it is essential that future plans for the site are compatible with the vision of the Oostende municipality.
The former Royal Villa was built between 1953 and 1956 shortly after the Zeedijk district and was used by the Belgian royal family until 1970.
Between 1973 and 2004, it was used as a hotel and restaurant, but has been vacant since early 2004.
The building is located above the gallery and next to the Thermae Palace Hotel and is one of the most exclusive locations in the Belgian coastal city.
The Royal Trust is an autonomous public institution, accounting for its own income and expenditure. It also manages its own assets and staff.
Some of its properties are at the disposal of the monarch, such as the park of Laeken, the chateaux of Belvédère, Stuyvenberg, Ciergnon and Fenffe, but other properties such as offices in Brussels or agricultural land are rented out to generate income for the Trust.