Cost of new home for ECB soars above €1bn
by Daniel Mason
Construction work on the European Central Bank's new Frankfurt headquarters is six months behind schedule and the expected overall costs of the project have risen above €1bn, it was revealed yesterday.
Nevertheless Jörg Asmussen, a member of the bank's executive board, said he hoped the building would come to be seen as an "enrichment of Frankfurt's skyline and the landscape of Europe".
He was speaking at a 'topping out' ceremony celebrating the completion of the main structural works on the modern facility, which is on the site of the city's old wholesale market place.
The ECB has so far spent €530m on construction and other costs, including the purchase of the site. But yesterday it said there would be an overshoot of €200m on the original estimate for the total cost of €850m.
In a statement the bank said the overrun was down to "increases in the price of construction materials and construction activities from 2005 until the completion of the project in 2014".
The completed complex on the banks of the river Main will include a 185-metre twin-towered skyscraper with 45 floors, a conference area and visitors' centre, an entrance hall, and several additional buildings.
Work on the new tower is progressing "according to plan", the ECB said. But it admitted that the conversion of the former market hall – dating from 1928 – was six months behind schedule because of "the complexity of the requisite restoration works on the original fabric of the listed building".
The ECB said a number of "unforeseen challenges" had been encountered, but despite the delays it expected to leave its current base and move into its new home as planned in 2014.
"The topping out ceremony marks another significant milestone for the ECB's new home," Asmussen said, adding that it would provide the bank with a "modern and functional headquarters".
It will be the first time all of the bank's employees will be based in a single location since the institution's creation in 1998. They are currently spread across the three sites in Frankfurt.
At the topping out ceremony, the flags of all 27 European Union member states were placed. The ECB, led by its president Mario Draghi, is responsible for monetary policy in the 17 countries that use the single currency and has taken a prominent role in the EU's response to the economic crisis.
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