Navigating urban peripheries: the governance challenges of high-risk real estate investments in France


  • Kevin Poisson Université Paris-Cité


Real estate investment funds, market peripheries, local government, urban governance, investment strategies




This paper presents an in-depth exploration of commercial real estate investments in France's urban peripheries, focusing on high-return, high-risk strategies, particularly in the context of value-added and opportunistic investments. By integrating methodologies from quantitative geography and political economy, this research uncovers the complex network of opaque corporate transactions, demonstrating the interconnectedness between global investors and local real estate dynamics (Sassen, 2001; Christophers, 2023). The study covers a comprehensive geographical scope across France, identifying the unique characteristics and tactics of investors engaged in these high-stakes ventures.

Central to this investigation is the concept of the "investment bet" in real estate, a precarious venture with significant urban and governance implications. The research probes into scenarios where such investments fail due to economic downturns, managerial oversights, or external factors, leading to substantial urban challenges. These failures often result in the socialization of losses, while gains remain privatized, a phenomenon increasingly evident in urban development projects (Goulding et al., 2023). This dichotomy presents a critical governance challenge for local authorities, who are tasked with addressing the fallout from failed speculative investments in the commercial real estate sector.

The paper extends its analysis to the specific actions undertaken by local governments in France to mitigate the impacts of property vacancies and financial distress in the commercial real estate market. This includes a detailed examination of opportunistic investment strategies during market contractions and the role of key players such as foreign vulture real estate funds in shaping these dynamics (Aalbers, 2016 ; Beswick et al., 2015). The study also delves into the regulatory landscape and market segmentation, providing a nuanced understanding of the urban consequences of failed opportunistic investments.

This paper contributes to the field of urban studies and real estate investment, particularly in the context of financialization and its impact on urban governance and development. It presents a comprehensive examination of the challenges and strategies employed by local governments in response to the growing influence of global financial actors in the urban real estate market. Through this research, we gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies of property markets, the implications of high-risk investments, and the vital role of governance in navigating these complex landscapes.


Sassen, S. (2001). The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo. Princeton University Press.

Aalbers, M.B. (2016). The Financialization of Housing: A Political Economy Approach. Routledge.

Goulding, R., Leaver, A. & Silver, J. (2023). From homes to assets: transcalar territorial networks and the financialization of build to rent in Greater Manchester. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space. [Online]. Available at:

Christophers, B. (2021). Mind the rent gap: Blackstone, housing investment and the reordering of urban rent surfaces. Urban Studies, [Online] 59(4). Available at:

Beswick, J., Alexandri, G., Byrne, M. et al. (2016). Speculating on London's housing future. City, 20(2), 321-341. [Online]. Available at: