Serbia seals $3 billion deal for giant project to transform Belgrade
Serbia sealed an agreement with an Abu Dhabi investor on Sunday for a multi-billion-dollar, Dubai-style riverside development that has drawn fire from some Belgraders worried about the scale and cost of the project.
Belgrade Waterfront marks the first foray into central and eastern Europe by developer Eagle Hills and Emirates real estate tycoon Mohamed Alabbar. Eagle Hills plans to spend $3 billion (2.8 billion euros) building a glass forest of hotels, office buildings and apartments for 14,000 people, the largest shopping mall in the Balkans and a curvaceous 200-metre tower on 2 million sq metres of wasteland by the River Sava.
The agreement stipulates that construction will take a maximum of 30 years, and that half must be finished within 20.
Critics question the viability of such an ambitious project in a country where one fifth of the workforce is unemployed and the average wage is less than 400 euros per month. They say it is an expensive gamble, rammed through with little public consultation and scant care for the character of the historic city.
Under the agreement, Serbia must pay for all infrastructure work up to the borders of the proposed site, a cost authorities estimate at 300 million euros.