St. Petersburg has given the oil giant the go-ahead to build a colossal tower outside the city.
The company first planned to build it in the city center, which sparked a wide public outrage. Relocated to the territory next to the Gulf of Finland, the project is still causing controversy.
Locals are outraged by the fact that the new tower is to reach a height of 470 meters as the previous version was only 400meters, already breaking the city’s unique skyline.
“It’s not about spoiling the view of the city, this is about breaking the law,” Antonina Eliseeva, co-ordinator of the Living City movement, told RT. “The maximum permitted height of a building in this area is 27 metres – and they want to build a tower that’s 20 times taller.”
“They are justifying this with stupid reasons, such as the “poor” geological features of the area. Other firms are already using it as a precedent. Right now I am seeing plans to build a 40-meter tall building in the heart of the city. So why don’t they just change the law?” Eliseeva added.
The project’s planners argue that they managed to considerably cut the tower’s budget.
The 403-meter-high modernist behemoth of a structure was first to be erected next to the city’s baroque-style Smolny Cathedral, right in the city’s center.
Although there are strict regulations that forbid spoiling the historical city skyline, St. Petersburg’s authorities voted to make an exception for the Okhta Center.
The decision shocked both local residents and the larger international community. The UN threatened to revoke St. Petersburg’s title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This prompted President Dmitry Medvedev to intervene and call for a closer examination of the plans for the Okhta Center and of the possible damage it could cause to St. Petersburg.
In July 2010 Russia’s Constitutional Court declared that St. Petersburg’s city planners were acting unconstitutionally in permitting Gazprom to build the skyscraper.