Skyscraper May Lose 400 Meters

The Russia Tower, planned as a 600-meter monument to the country's power and wealth, appears to have been brought back to Earth by funding woes and City Hall's desire to see a rapid conclusion to the Moskva-City business center.

Development of the skyscraper, designed to be the tallest building in Europe, was frozen in November because of a lack of funding. But Mayor Yury Luzhkov told investors in Moskva-City last week that he wanted progress this year, following warnings from the project's head architect in December that many buildings would be delayed beyond 2010.

A decision to speed up work on the Russia Tower but limit its size was made at a closed meeting of the Moscow City Council on Friday, Interfax reported. Shalva Chigirinsky, whose Russian Land is developing the tower, told the agency that the measures were taken because it was "time to tighten our belts."

"I can't say who will be redesigning the project," he said, adding that he was "happy and satisfied by the mayor's decision."

Mikhail Posokhin, head of Mosproyekt-2, was cited as saying the tower's height would be reduced, possibly to 200 meters, and that an underground parking complex would be revised. At 200 meters, the tower would not even surpass the 240-meter Moscow State University, completed in 1953.

It was unclear, however, what relation Posokhin had to the project. A Mosproyekt-2 representative said the company had "absolutely nothing to do" with Russia Tower.

Russian Land and the project's British architect, Foster & Partners, declined comment Monday. City Hall could not be reached.

A revision of the tower's height would represent the latest in a series of real estate woes for Chigirinsky. In October, he lost the right to build an $800 million shopping center on the site of the demolished Rossiya Hotel. And City Hall redirected funds from a $3 billion development called Crystal Island for social projects. Both had been designed by Foster & Partners.