In Gland, the Swissquote tower divides the population

A few steps from Gland station, the biggest company in the city shakes up the cottages. The local company Swissquote – located in the La Crétaux industrial zone – which has become a multinational, plans to triple its workforce from 700 employees to 1,700. more Swissquote in his hometown. This building would allow the firm to strengthen its head office and turn to its next objective, that of doubling its turnover by 2025.

If all Glandois – or almost – agree on the fact that online banking is one of the prides of the city, two camps oppose the project to build a tower 60 meters high.

New York style

At first glance, the Swissquote project seems to be a godsend for Gland, which could look to the future with serenity by seeing its largest taxpayer project itself over the long term. “We need room to develop our activities and, given that we are attached to Gland, we want to do it here”, indicates Marc Bürki before continuing: “We are ready to invest here with Paolo [Buzzi, cofondateur, ndlr], because there is an emotional side. But if that does not happen in the next few years, I am not sure that our successors will keep this regional attachment.

Read also: Swissquote, the rise of a banking UFO

In other words, if the referendum is not voted on Sunday, online banking will develop elsewhere, in German-speaking Switzerland or abroad. But the co-founders of Swissquote remain hopeful that their project will be born where it all began more than thirty years ago. To put the odds on their side, the two businessmen have launched a seduction operation. On the plans of the company’s future site, we can thus see, below the building, a large vegetated park of 8 hectares covering a good part of the industrial zone and even the avenue du Mont-Blanc, the central road artery of the cited.

The owners of Swissquote are at the origin of this project which they proposed to the municipality to co-finance by sharing the costs estimated at 20 million francs. “With this mini-“Central Parc”, Swissquote wants to prove that it has the means to do things on a large scale and weigh in the public interests”, notes Isabelle, a citizen from Gland who walks around the Crétaux area. Supported by the “I say yes to Gland” committee, the online bank was able to use this innovative idea to convince some of the inhabitants.

But for the moment, it is far too early to imagine Acorn hosting “his” New York neighborhood. Direct neighbors of the current site of the company, Pascal Riesen and Pierre Wegmüller did not take off. The two men are at the origin of the referendum which opposes the new allocation plan “La Crétaux”, which authorizes Swissquote to project its tower by 60 meters.

tower of power

For the two opponents, this project is only a means “to assert its domination”. Their main fear? The shadow that should darken the neighborhood where they live. “During covid, we submitted to the municipal office a project for solar panels for the entire block. Suffice to say that when we were alerted to the potential effects that a 60-meter tower can have on sunshine, we retracted”, contextualizes Pascal Riesen, who considers that this project is an aberration. “In twenty years, the population has doubled in Gland, which has become a city. We are aware of the challenges we face in terms of housing, but it must remain livable for everyone. However, this project goes much too far and our goal is to alert the population to the dangers it can cause.

Also read: Swissquote, the best performing Swiss stock over twenty years

If the referendum committee FutureAcorn estimates that the shadow cast could reach 800 hours per year from October to March, the project’s supporters dispute these figures. “AvenirGland was based on erroneous data, not taking into account the weather or the darker periods that we experience in winter. Personally, I am not worried, because any new project arouses controversy”, specifies Catherine Labouchère, president of the committee “I say yes to Gland“.

Among other points of friction, the two parties disagree over the presence of a company with 1,700 employees in the city. Co-chair of the inter-party committee defending the decision of the Municipal Council, Léonie Wahlen sees it as an opportunity. “It is a chance to be able to count on a company which grew up in Gland and which is now known throughout the world. In addition, Swissquote contributes a lot to the community by hiring many young people (the average age is 32), by employing 20% ​​of its staff living within a radius of 5 kilometers and, of course, by participating financially as major taxpayer.

Quoted in the columns of 24 hoursthe PLR ​​municipal councilor Michel Girardet affirmed during the last municipal council that Swissquote brought in 5 million francs annually to the municipality, or 7% of the municipal budget, which amounts to 71 million in 2022.

Uncertain outcome

From the point of view of traders in Gland, the development of Swissquote is also a good omen. “It’s wonderful for us because we benefit from it,” rejoices José Fernandes, owner of the Buffet de la gare as well as the Hotel Glanis. “I am in favor of the project, because we receive a lot of employees, whether to eat or to sleep. In total, Swissquote operates 10% of my hotel rooms per year. It’s not nothing!”

For the two referendaries Pascal Riesen and Pierre Wegmüller, it is difficult to go in this direction. “We must not give false hope to traders. Employees will have everything they want within the buildings, including something to eat.”

A few days before the election, it seems difficult to make predictions. “I have my nose in the handlebars a bit so I am certainly not very objective. I am happy to hear the elderly population support us by realizing that their grandchildren will be able to benefit from work opportunities in the future”, comments Catherine Labouchère. Among the opponents, we wince a little at the time of the question but we want to believe it. “I think we have our chances. If the tower passes, we will accept the result but one thing is certain, we will oppose as soon as the investigation is launched, ”assures Pascal Riesen.

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