Because of the faltering construction work on the Monarch high-rise on Alexanderplatz, Berlin’s Finance Senator Daniel Wesener (Greens) is increasing the pressure on the investor and is again threatening to buy back the property. “In June we found that the first milestone, here we are talking about the completion of the base plate, had not been reached,” said Wesener to RBB.
There is now a grace period until the fall. If Monarch cannot make up for the delay by then, the state will examine sanctions “and possibly also exercise the right of purchase,” explained the finance senator.
The state of Berlin had sold the property on the corner of Grunerstraße and Alexanderstraße in 2013 to the investor Monarch. Most recently, the state-owned Berliner Immobilienmanagement (BIM) and the company agreed on a new agreement in 2019. This provides for several milestones in the construction of the tower – and at the same time gives the country a buyback right if they are not met.
Although the groundbreaking ceremony took place in 2019, construction work has not progressed as planned since then. In March, Wesener had already threatened to make use of the buyback option because the investor was not meeting its obligations.
“The contract contains various milestones on the construction progress. So far, the investor has not achieved this as agreed,” a spokesman for the tax authorities confirmed to the Tagesspiegel. According to the agreement, the concrete floor of the ground floor should have already been poured. There is now a grace period until September 30th.
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Lawyer Detlev Stoecker, who represents the Monarch Group, also confirmed that construction is not progressing as planned: “We are not as far as we wanted to be.” The reason he gave was delays due to additional reports on the statics of the Gruner tunnel. Since there were doubts as to whether the tower was putting too much strain on the joints of the underpass, additional investigations had become necessary.
Nevertheless, Stoecker believes it is possible to put the ceiling on the first basement floor by the end of September. “Even despite delivery difficulties, we are trying to meet the deadline that BIM has set for us.”
Stoecker was unable to completely deny rumors that construction was halted because the company, which operates in Moscow, was having problems as a result of EU sanctions against Russia. So far, all payments have been made and the owners of the group are Armenians. But there are difficulties due to the activity in Russia. “Monarch concern is a major source of funds for the project, most of its activities are in Russia. It’s currently difficult to get the income out,” said Stoecker. However, he assumes that the financial flow will continue to function.
The tower was originally supposed to be ready by the end of 2023. Stoecker did not want to say what the new schedule looks like. Apparently, however, completion before the end of 2024 is announced – should the country not buy back the building before then. The market value would then be due.
Monarch lawyer Stoecker does not believe that it will come to that. Because the state would first have to tender the construction to a new service provider. “The construction site would be idle for much longer as a result. We’ve already built 20 stories in that time,” said Stoecker. “I think I can say that no one can complete the tower faster than we can.” The question is what the Senate really wants.