Michael Ruel at the inauguration of the Marguery Villas residence in Black River in 2017.
photo : DR
Following the various manifestations of dissatisfaction with opponents of the Legend Hill project in Tamarin, our editorial staff contacted Michael Ruel, president of the MJ Développement group. The promoter answered all of our questions bluntly.
Interview by J. Rombi
Le Journal des Archipels: What do you have to say to those who say that the project risks causing flooding below (precarious dwellings)?
Michael Ruel: We are aware of the fact that this project presents a particular complexity and technicality because of its location on the side of the Tourelle mountain and because of the type of soil in this region of the island. As early as 2017, we first carried out in-depth studies on the natural elements that make up the site in order to determine the techniques to be used to ensure the solidity of the constructions and their stability, while preserving the safety of people and the site neighborhood.
These studies took place over a period of more than a year in order to observe natural events throughout all the seasons, and particularly the period of intense rains in 2019. The objective was to be as well-equipped as possible to address the issue of stormwater drainage with a view to ensuring the safety of neighboring dwellings, and that of future inhabitants of the site.
Following the authorization of the Land Drainage Authority of January 2020, we agreed to the investment required for the construction of a cut-off drain along the entire length of the upper part of the site, to collect rainwater from the mountain upstream of the development and thus channel this water to the rainwater drainage system; 60% of the water that crossed this land before will be collected and drained by this Cut-off drain from now on. An internal drainage network will also be built on the site and the main natural drain crossing the site will not only be preserved, but also improved. In addition, work will be undertaken at the request of the authorities on public drains below the project at our expense (Coastal Road and London supermarket). Likewise, during the excavation work phase, it was planned that the internal road network at the site would serve as open channels to evacuate surface runoff water to the discharge points in the event of torrential rain. With the support of our local technical staff and under the watchful eye of the authorities, we take all the necessary precautions to ensure flawless safety. This aspect remains a priority and we will continue to work fully with the local authorities in this regard.
JDA: What are you doing to protect the environment in and around this project?
MR: Legend Hill is a project guided by a thoughtful, responsible and respectful development logic. Therefore, our goal is to build a structure that has the least possible long-term impact on its immediate environment. On the one hand, this is a very low density project (less than 10% of footprint): the built part will occupy only 10 of the 20 arpents of the land, the other 10 arpents leaving the best part to vegetation. natural which currently adorns the upstream part of the land. In addition, the buildings will be surrounded by different plant layers to soften the angles and blur the limits, the final objective being to restore lush and wild vegetation. And as with our two other projects on the island, we will take special care in replanting endemic trees and flora when the project comes to an end. There are plans to replant much more diversity than there was before on the mountain. On the other hand, in collaboration with our local technical partners, we designed the project so that the architecture leaves room for very large openings for optimal natural light, thus, promoting rational energy use. Always under the guidance of our local consultants, all construction materials and techniques will be chosen in such a way as to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The aim is not only to respect the environment but also to reflect the culture and history of Mauritius. Once in operation, the project will reprocess its wastewater for watering green spaces, hot water will be solar and we will set up a waste sorting system for residents.
“We want it to be responsible development in addition to being thoughtful”
JDA: What are the social inclusions planned with the residents?
MR: Since our establishment in Mauritius in 2014, we have made a lasting commitment to various social contributions having a direct positive impact on the population of the regions in which we are developing our projects. We have also made a significant contribution since the creation of the “Covid Social Fund” launched by the government at the start of this global crisis. As a responsible promoter, it is indeed important for us to participate in the development of the region from an environmental, socio-cultural and economic standpoint. In the case of Legend Hill, we deployed a social plan consisting in assessing the needs and identifying the causes and priority areas in the Rivière Noire region. The areas of action that we want to focus on are education, poverty reduction and empowerment, health, recreation and entertainment.
In addition, the local economy will benefit greatly from the fact that the project represents 400 jobs on average during the 3 years of work and then 80 permanent and perennial jobs in order to allow its operation and operation. And more importantly, Legend Hill stands out when it comes to the issue of inclusion, with a substantial “Hospitality” offer aimed at all Mauritians – a real first on La Tourelle.
At the infrastructural level, we wish to provide local residents with the benefit of our expertise by rehabilitating roads and certain drains.
JDA: Other arguments in favor of the project?
MR: We have been coming to Mauritius since 2003 and working there since 2014 – so we are Mauritians at heart. It is also here that we have carried out our most beautiful projects and forged much more than a simple professional network: they are real partnerships from which we have learned a lot and which have largely contributed to the success of our projects (Marguery Exclusive Villas in Rivière Noire and Mythic Suites & Villas in Grand Gaube).
Mauritius is now part of the DNA of the MJ Développement group. For more than 7 years, we have been promoting this destination through our communication campaigns. Our hotel operations subsidiary now employs 45 people and we will soon number more than 120 when Legend Hill opens. This project is a technical challenge because of the topography of the land, but based on our experience and the expertise of our local technical partners (Architect Studio, Water Research, Luxconsult, Etwaro & Associates, SJP, Merits Consulting, SceneRies Consulting and Landconcept), we are able to offer a development that wants to be unique. Legend Hill will have required the team three and a half years of work and administrative procedures upstream of the site, in order to obtain the various building permits and authorizations (in particular due to the specific nature of the land). We never gave up because we want it to be responsible development in addition to being thoughtful. We also want everyone, especially local residents, to be able to understand the real ins and outs of this project today and we intend to reach out to them, in a logic of transparency and inclusion, to support them in this process. progression.