French/Russian Twin Towers in Paris …

Tall buildings – skyscrapers – are fairly new to Paris. Few Parisians like those which are here. For example, there was uproar in 1969 at the commencement of the construction of the 210- meter (689 ft) Montparnasse Tower. Then, in the 1980s there was again opposition when tall office buildings began to go up in […]

Twin towers for Paris

Tall buildings – skyscrapers – are fairly new to Paris.

Few Parisians like those which are here.

For example, there was uproar in 1969 at the commencement of the construction of the 210- meter (689 ft) Montparnasse Tower.

Montparnasse Tower

Then, in the 1980s there was again opposition when tall office buildings began to go up in La Défense, a business district that spans across the Paris areas of Nanterre, Courbevoie and Puteaux. The complaint was that the tall buildings would spoil the view one has when standing on Place de la Concorde and facing up Avenue des Champs-Elysées towards the Arc de Triomphe.

The view is indeed spoiled to anyone who remembers when those buildings which includes the 110-meter (360 ft) Grande Arche, were not there. And those who remember when there was just one tall structure in Paris: The 324-meter (1063 ft) Eiffel Tower.

La Defense

Therefore it was with regret that some Parisians have learned that in five years from now the Paris skyline would again have changed.

Paris is to get another two skyscrapers: Twin towers of 323 meters (1064 ft) each. One will have 93 floors and the other 92.

The project has been on the drawing boards for a few years already, but it was only at the end of 2010 that building permission has been granted to the promoters.

Who are the promoters?

Ever heard of Hermitage SAS?

It’s Russian and its French branch, Hermitage Immo, is run by Mr. Ermin Iskenderov. His title is PDG – President Directeur Général – the French version of CEO.

Mr Iskenderov

The twin towers will be built in La Défense in the area that falls in the municipality of Courbevoie. The Courbevoie council had to vote on approving Hermitage’s project. The mayor and council are members of the UMP political party; Union pour un Mouvement Populaire. It is the ruling political Party in France, therefore that of President Sarkozy and his Prime Minister, François Fillon. There was a problem because the site on which the towers would be build already housed social lodgings erected in the 1970s which meant that 250 lower income families had to be rehoused.  President Sarkozy supported the project … and it was passed.

The project costs €2 billion ($2.6  billion / £1.6 billion ). The French media had speculated that Hermitage SAS did not have that kind of money, but Mr. Iskenderov has said that the mother company, Mirax Group, based in Moscow has $6 billion (€4.5 billion / £3.7 billion) assets. He explained to the media that $350 million towards the project will come from the company’s own funds and that banks will supply the balance. The names of those banks are being kept secret.

Mr. Iskenderov himself as a secretive man.

All that I have learned from my research is that he was born on February 15, 1977 and that he is of Azerbaijani extraction. He is therefore 34 years old.

He may not call himself a personal friend of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin or Russian President Dmitry Medvedev or President Sarkozy, but he has rubbed shoulders with them on numerous occasions, and when the French president was in Moscow in November, Mr. Iskenderov’s rotund frame was on some of the photos which means that he was in Sarkozy’s official party.

Forbes does not list him under the word’s richest 500 people. Forbes does not list him at all.

We do know more about the twin towers though.

On the right bank of the Seine, they will comprise a 300-room 5-star hotel, a Four Seasons; a 1300-seat theater; an art gallery; five restaurants, a swimming-pool; a shopping mall, and 540 apartments.  The apartments will all be 200 sq.meters (2,153 sq ft.) ) large. Some will have terraces, and all will have windows that one will be able to open.  Such an apartment will sell at €12,000 ($16,000 / £10,000) per sq. meter. This means that an apartment will cost no less than €2.4 million ($3.2 million / £2.1 million.) For that kind of money one will get a full hotel service – concierge, cleaners and room service added.

The view of Paris from the towers’ 92 and 93 floors will be magnificent.

But if money is no drawback, why only 92 and 93 floors? The explanation is interesting. No one on the project wanted the towers to hurt the Parisians’ feelings by making them taller than the Eiffel Tower.

Mr. Iskenderov says that Hermitage SAS has already received 3000 inquiries from people who want to buy an apartments.

The foundation stone will be laid in June. Either, or perhaps both PM Putin and President Medvedev, will come to Paris for the ceremony.

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

3 Responses to “French/Russian Twin Towers in Paris …”

  1. 3
    SaraLouise Says:

    Really interesting news Marilyn. Even though I’ve been to Paris a few times, in my mind, I never think of it having skyscrapers, I guess they don’t fit in with the romantic image of Paris. But alas, they are there, with more coming.
    And Mr. Iskenderov seems like quite the shady fellow.

  2. 2
    Marilyn Z. Tomlins Says:

    What makes you think this, Jo.

  3. 1
    Jowake Says:

    Sounds like an invitation to Muslim insurgents to me.

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