WORKERS ARE sinking 10,000-tonne blocks of concrete in the Mediterranean off Monaco as the tightly-packed principality extends its living space for millionaires.
Some 150 of the world’s most expensive apartments – dubbed the ‘Formula One of flats’ – are to be built on the 15-acre peninsula that is under construction on the eastern edge of the city state. On completion in 2025, the flats will sell for more than $100,000 (£75,000) per square metre — higher than the priciest new properties in London and New York.
Prince Albert authorised the €2 billion project after blocking a more ambitious scheme in 2008 that prompted outrage from ecologists over the threat to sea life. The new scheme, which includes a new marina and an extension of the Grimaldi Forum conference centre, was designed to cause minimum ecological damage.
“I will pay particular attention to make sure that the project conforms to the strong environmental constraints that I am imposing during the construction work,” Prince Albert said.
Bouygues, the French construction giant, undertook to move seabed species to a new reserve. However, environmentalists are still worried about the impact of the scheme.
“The project is certainly ecological but it is going to have a significant impact on the richest zones of the marine environment,” Alexandre Meinesz, a biologist at Nice-Sophia-Antipolis university, said.
The reclaimed land, equivalent to eight football pitches, follows a push seaward by the Mediterranean tax haven that began under the late Prince Rainier in the 1950s.
The former ruler earned the nickname “builder prince” after the construction of the Fontvieille business and residential district in the 1960s. In the past 150 years, Monaco has gained 40 per cent more territory by reclaiming land from the sea.
The new quarter of luxury flats, an increase in the principality’s surface area of 3.3 per cent, will soak up ever-mounting demand for property in the haven of the super-rich. More than 30 per cent of Monaco residents are millionaires.
With 38,000 residents — who pay no income tax except for the French nationals among them — Monaco has run out of space to take in more on its existing 500 acres. The new district is being designed by the architectural firm Valode & Pistre.
This article first appeared in The Times