World News

Mexico plans Latin America's tallest skyscraper

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Real estate investors including Spain’s richest man plan to spend $600 million to build an 85-floor office building in Mexico’s capital that would be Latin America’s tallest skyscraper.

Construction of the 984-foot (300-metre) glass-paneled building overlooking Mexico City’s historic Chapultepec Park should be complete by September 2010 to commemorate two centuries since the start of Mexico’s war of independence against Spain, the investors said this week.

Mexican firm Grupo Danhos and an investment fund owned by Spanish billionaire Amancio Ortega, who controls trendy clothing retailer Zara, will own the Torre Bicentenario, or Bicentennial Tower.

Not unusually tall by world standards, the building, designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, will be roughly the same height as the Eiffel Tower in Paris but shorter than the Empire State Building in New York.

One Mexican newspaper cartoonist mimicked the building, tapered at the top and bottom, as being shaped like a coffin.

Mexico City, susceptible to frequent earthquakes and built over a dried out lake bed that causes some building to sink a about an inch each year, has only a handful of skyscrapers.

Canadian real estate mogul Paul Reichmann’s 55-floor Torre Mayor, which opened in 2003, is one of Mexico City’s relatively few skyscrapers and is currently Latin America’s tallest.

“Mexico City needs about 200,000 square meters (yards) of office space a year,” Grupo Danhos chief executive Jorge Gamboa told Reuters. That would be the equivalent of about seven typical 25-floor office towers.

Gamboa downplayed comments by Mexico City legislator Gabriela Cuevas that the construction plan requires changes to zoning regulations that have yet to be approved.

“At the moment, this building is nothing more than an idea on paper,” Cuevas told Reuters on Tuesday.

The owners expect to rent space in the building to high-profile corporate clients for about $30 a square meter (yard) a month, in line with current leases at Mexico City’s most exclusive office buildings.