Builder signs deal to complete Riga's tallest towers

SIA Merks, the Latvian part of Estonia's large AS Merko Ehitus construction group, has signed a 36 million euro contract to complete the 'Z-Towers', a pair of structures at 30 Ranķa Dambis, Riga that look like enormous salt and pepper shakers.

"The scope of works includes engineering and finishing works in North Tower which consists of 197 apartments. Shell and core works in South Tower accommodating office and commercial premises on around 23 thousand square meters. The complex includes additionally retail premises and underground parking for approximately 650 vehicles," a market announcement reads.

The value of the contract is around 36 million euros, plus value added tax. Construction works will start this month and are scheduled for completion in September 2018.

SIA Merks is Latvian construction company, which offers construction services in the fields of general construction, civil engineering and residential construction.

The fate of the towers has been a long-running saga. Work started in 2006 at the height of Latvia's devil-may-care economic boom with much talk of helicopters landing on the roof and levels of luxury hitherto unimagined.

However, the subsequent economic crash and contractual wrangles have seen the project take on a revised role, which you can see at the official website HERE.  

Rigans have watched the project slowly progress, with the two glass cylinders inching upwards to 123 and 117 meters respectively. When complete, the tops of the towers will emit an eerie glow.

One of the main investors in the project, as this article in Russian Forbes magazine shows, is Russian billionaire Yuri Shefler and his SPI Group, which makes Stolichnaya vodka in Latvia.

"Yurii Scheffler (sic) is a developer and the key ideologist of unique project of Z-Towers combining not only the construction of two skyscrapers but also specially designed programmes of Z-Finance and Z-Experience," says the official project website.

The project seems slanted towards attracting wealthy residents from Russia and other former CIS countries who want a base in the European Union and access to EU banking. The project website even has a page outlining how to get hold of a residency permit by making a real estate purchase.

"As a result of its favourable migration policy, foreigners often tend to make their second home in Latvia," the project brochure says.

A list of private banking contacts is also provided for well-heeled investors, with the promise that "For the clients of our Project the banks in Latvia are offering special conditions. Each case will be handled individually." 

You can take a virtual tour of the project - in its idealised form - HERE.

"The Z-Towers complex is a combination of two seemingly incompatible things. On the one hand, apartment owners have a view over Riga: ancient, yet ever young, with its historical centre and life that never stops for a minute," gushes the publicity material.

"On the other hand, comfort and quiet life in the countryside. When certain weather conditions occur, the residents of the complex can "try on" feeling "flying in the clouds" and "dance with snowflakes." That is what makes it truly unique," it continues.

SIA Merks will have the task of encouraging that dancing with the snowflakes feeling to residents of the 360 apartments, 10,000 square meters of office space, parking for 700 cars and a giant gym.

The slogan of the project on its official brochure is "Life beyond time and space," a claim which, if accurate, would certainly complicate the paperwork involved.

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