Moscow skyscraper tallest in Europe

ILYA KHRENNIKOV
Last updated 13:46 02/11/2012
Mercury City
SERGEI KARPUKHIN/ Reuters

Mercury City (right) stands proud in Moscow as the tallest building in Europe.

Mercury City
SERGEI KARPUKHIN/ Reuters
TALLEST IN TOWN: Mercury City is 339m tall.
Igor Kesaev
SERGEI KARPUKHIN/ Reuters
BILLIONAIRE: Igor Kesaev wanted to build skyscrapers in Moscow after visiting New York in 1991.

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Mercury City, the tower Russian retail billionaire Igor Kesaev is building in Moscow's new financial district, overtakes the Shard in London as Europe's tallest skyscraper.

The tower reached its full height of 339 metres, 29 metres more than the Shard, Kesaev's Mercury Development said Thursday, citing Hamburg, Germany-based researcher Emporis.

The 70-storey skyscraper, designed by US architect Frank Williams, who died in 2010, and Russia's Mikhail Posokhin, is be completed in the first quarter next year.

"When I first came to New York in 1991 and saw the Chrysler building and the Citibank one, I thought that such kinds of skyscrapers should appear in Moscow," Kesaev said at a press conference in the Russian capital Thursday.

"Now, 20 years later, this dream has come true."

Kesaev, who made his US$1.8 billion fortune in wholesale tobacco and food retailing, was among a handful of tycoons to start building skyscrapers in Moscow City, the capital's emerging financial district. Not all reached fruition.

Billionaire Chalva Tchigirinsky scrapped a plan to build a 612-metre Norman Foster designed skyscraper after the onset of the global financial crisis.

Sergei Polonsky, who built Federation Tower in Moscow City, lost his projects to banks as they were pledged as loan collateral.

Investment in the project totalled US$1 billion, Kesaev said.

The tower has about 90,000 square metres of office space and 20,000 square metres of apartments, according to the developer's website.

"There will definitely be good demand for offices in such a prestigious location as Moscow City," said Nikola Obajdin, head of office property at Knight Frank in Moscow.

"The rental price should be at a market level of about US$800 to US$900 per square metre a year, but on this stage of construction tenants expect it to be about US$700."

Most demand for apartments comes from speculative investors and there's a large supply of units in Moscow City from other developers, according to Knight Frank.

The starting price for apartments in Mercury City is US$11,100 a square metre, according to its website.

"It may take Mercury three to four years to sell out the apartments," said Olga Tarakanova, head of city sales at Knight Frank.

"Wealthy individuals who bought apartments in Moscow City several years ago are offering them for sale now."

Developers such as Capital Group, owned by Vladislav Doronin, are offering apartments in early-stage skyscrapers in Moscow City for as little as US$6500 a square metre, according to Knight Frank.

- BLOOMBERG

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