ECB Says Cost of New Frankfurt Skyscraper Soars by 41%

The European Central Bank said the cost of its new Frankfurt headquarters will jump by as much as 41 percent due to higher prices for construction materials and “a number of unforeseen challenges.”

The 185-meter twin-towered skyscraper will now cost as much as 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion), up to 350 million euros more than the initial price of 850 million euros, the ECB said in a statement yesterday. The central bank’s relocation to the new premises remains scheduled for 2014, it said. Previously, the ECB said it would move into its new headquarters in early 2014, with construction due for completion at the end of 2013.

The cost blowout comes as the ECB castigates profligate European governments for failing to control their own spending. It’s also another setback for a construction project that was delayed in 2008 when bids exceeded the ECB’s budget in the initial tender process. The building was originally scheduled for completion in 2011.

“It is anticipated that increases in the price of construction materials and construction activities from 2005 until the completion of the project in 2014 will lead to a 200 million-euro increase in the overall investment cost,” the ECB said. “In addition, there have been a number of unforeseen challenges that needed to be dealt with” that are “likely to account for additional costs of about 100-150 million euros,” it said.

‘Topping Out’

The ECB revealed the new costs at a “topping out” celebration to mark completion of the main structural works on the skyscraper.

The complex on the banks of the river Main features two twisting towers connected by an atrium. One tower reaches 185 meters, or 45 floors, and the other rises to 165 meters, or 43 floors. It is built on the site of Frankfurt’s former wholesale fruit market, and will include a memorial to the Jews who were detained there during the Nazi era before their deportation to concentration camps.

Construction works on the wholesale market hall, or Grossmarkthalle, and the entrance building “are approximately six months behind schedule, owing to the complexity of the requisite restoration works on the original fabric of this listed building,” the ECB said.

The central bank plans to occupy the new complex with between 1,500 and 1,800 ECB staff members as well as experts from the national central banks of the euro area, external consultants and trainees, according to information on its website.

“The new premises will provide the ECB with a modern and functional headquarters, and I hope that they will be viewed by the people of Frankfurt, and beyond, as an enrichment of Frankfurt’s skyline and the landscape of Europe,” ECB Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen said at the ceremony yesterday.

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