HAMBURG (dpa-AFX) - Political pressure on project developer Signa is growing following the interruption of construction work on Hamburg's billion-euro Elbtower skyscraper. "Unlike the Elbe Philharmonic Hall, the Elbe Tower is a project at the risk of private investors, who would suffer great economic damage if the project were to be abandoned at this stage," Mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD) told the news magazine "Der Spiegel".

"The city will not assume any financial burdens in this context, but will ensure that the contractual regulations are adhered to," said Tschentscher. He expressed the expectation "that the investors will therefore find a solution for the resumption of construction activity in their own interest".

Commerzbank asset manager Commerz Real, which acquired a 25 percent stake in the project last summer on behalf of the open-ended real estate fund "Hausinvest", expects construction work to continue quickly. Commerz Real is in talks with both Lupp, the construction company entrusted with the shell construction, and Signa "in order to find a solution quickly", a Commerz Real spokesperson said on Friday in response to a dpa inquiry. "We remain absolutely convinced of the Elbtower and assume that construction work can be resumed soon."

The project developer Signa Real Estate itself, which belongs to the Signa holding company owned by Austrian billionaire René Benko, has so far not responded to inquiries about the reasons for the interruption to construction and the further progress of the Elbtower. The Commerz Real spokesman said that his company had been informed directly by Lupp before the latter interrupted the work.

The high-rise building on the eastern edge of Hamburg's Hafencity, one of Europe's largest urban development projects, is set to become the third tallest high-rise building in Germany after the Commerzbank Tower and the Messeturm in Frankfurt with 65 floors and a height of 245 meters. According to earlier information from Signa Real Estate, the skyscraper is expected to cost 950 million euros.

Logistics billionaire Klaus-Michael Kühne, who has been speculated in media reports as a possible financier for the Elbe Tower, has said that he is not available as a financier. "Kühne Holding is far removed from any involvement in the Elbtower and has only been marginally involved in one or two discussions about partial or total solutions in the Signa Prime matter," Kühne told the "Hamburger Abendblatt" newspaper in response to its inquiry. "No solutions involving Kühne Holding are currently on the horizon."

Tschentscher recalled the land purchase agreement that the City of Hamburg had concluded with Signa. "This includes detailed milestones for the completion of the building, with corresponding contractual penalties in the double-digit million range up to the retransfer of the property with the already constructed parts of the building," said the mayor. "The contracts have been well negotiated and comprehensively safeguard the interests of the city."

The Elbe Tower with 65 floors is to be 245 meters high. This will make the building designed by star architect David Chipperfield the third tallest skyscraper in Germany after the Commerzbank Tower and the Messeturm in Frankfurt./kf/DP/nas