Russian developer pursues 2,2 billion euros luxury complex in Paris’ La Defence

Designed by British architect Norman Foster, the Hermitage Plaza Towers is a multi-use luxury complex developed by Russian born Emin Iskenderov in Paris’ La Defence area. ”The idea is to create a Manhattan in the French style in La Defense,” said Emin Iskenderov, head of the Hermitage Group, which is developing the towers. “There are many people nowadays who want more than the traditional charming Paris apartment.”

The project received planning permission in March and has since beaten back several legal challenges from local groups. Opponents criticise the project for its treatment of local residents. They say Iskenderov’s plan to replace the area’s moderately priced apartments with luxury ones is wrongheaded in a country that suffers from a housing shortage.

The Russian-born developer told Reuters he is on track to get bank financing by January at the latest, even though the amount needed has jumped to 1.2 billion euros from a previously targeted 700 million. Getting more from the banks now would allow the 36-year-old Iskenderov, who has raised eyebrows with his sudden emergence on the French real estate scene, to rely less on the proceeds of apartment sales.

Born in Moscow, Iskenderov moved to France with his parents at the age of 15, then in 1998 back to Moscow, where he eventually joined Mirax, a now-bankrupt developer known for luxury housing. Hermitage began as Mirax’s French unit and split off in 2009 with funds that Iskenderov says account for most of the roughly 200 million euros in equity he plans to plough into the project. Iskenderov has high-profile allies, including the public entities that manage La Defense. The site’s main contractor will be construction firm Bouygues, whose head Martin Bouygues is godfather to one of Sarkozy’s sons.

Hermitage Plaza project, La Defence, Paris