Construction: Tschentscher: Hamburg near Elbtower prepared for an emergency

Hamburg's mayor Peter Tschentscher sees the city as prepared in the event of a total failure of the Elbtower investor Signa.

Construction: Tschentscher: Hamburg near Elbtower prepared for an emergency

Hamburg's mayor Peter Tschentscher sees the city as prepared in the event of a total failure of the Elbtower investor Signa. “The likely variant is not that nothing will happen for five years,” said the SPD politician to the German Press Agency. Perhaps the private investors would find a solution and continue building - as they had announced.

“Even in insolvency proceedings, the city would secure its contractual rights.” This includes a right of repurchase, which the city does not have to implement immediately. This leaves enough time to examine the situation. "If we buy it back, we would refund the original purchase price of 122 million euros without interest and less five million euros and in return we would get the property back."

Project not yet a disaster

From Tschentscher's point of view, the project is not yet a disaster because further construction is possible at any time and is also economically advantageous. Unlike the Elbphilharmonie, the risk with the Elbtower lies solely with private investors. “The city will not take over any outstanding bills,” said Tschentscher.

The Elbtower is intended to be the crowning glory of Hamburg's Hafencity. It is to be built in the far east near the Elbe Bridges, as a kind of counterpart to the Elbphilharmonie in the far west: "64 floors, 245 meters above sea level. A new view of the city," it says on the Elbtower's homepage. The third tallest building in Germany, designed by London star architect David Chipperfield, will house, among other things, offices, shops, galleries, restaurants and a viewing platform on the 55th floor. Planned completion and total costs so far: 2025 for around 950 million euros.

There has been a standstill on the construction site since October

But nothing has been going on at the Elbtower construction site since the end of October. At a height of 100 meters, the contracted construction company Adolf Lupp from Nidda in Hesse stopped work. Signa has not paid bills, said managing director Matthias Kaufmann to the “Hamburger Abendblatt”. Apparently it's around 37 million euros. Signa itself did not initially comment on this when asked.

The real estate entrepreneur René Benko took out cheap loans during the low interest rate period, gained financially strong investors and thus significantly expanded his group. But the recent rise in interest rates, construction costs and energy prices have put his complex network of companies in trouble - so much so that the Signa Holding and various sub-companies have already filed for bankruptcy.

City decides about future in bankruptcy

Signa Prime Selection AG (Innsbruck), which is responsible for the Elbtower, was last hit on Thursday. The company owns commercial properties in top locations, including the Elbtower, the KaDeWe in Berlin and department store properties from the Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof chain. According to the urban development authority, Signa Prime Selection AG is the indirect parent of the not yet insolvent buyer company of the Elbtower property, Hamburg Elbtower Immobilien GmbH

Tschentscher said that if there is a buyback, "then the city can decide whether, for example, to re-allocate the property and the project. Theoretically, it would also be possible to dismantle the building and use the property for other purposes." The most likely variant as of today, however, is that the Elbtower will be completed - "and with exactly the architecture and type of use that were agreed upon".

Further bankruptcy filing at Signa

Meanwhile, another insolvency application has been filed with the Signa Group. According to the Vienna Commercial Court, Signa Development Selection AG filed for insolvency on Friday. The company, which specializes in project developments, is therefore aiming for self-administered restructuring proceedings, as Signa announced on Thursday.