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ECB's new building to cost more than expected, says official

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(FRANKFURT) - The European Central Bank's new headquarters, scheduled to be completed in 2014, will cost a lot more than expected, a top ECB official said Thursday.

Originally, the estimated costs of the spectacular new twin-tower skyscraper, being built in the redeveloped east of Frankfurt, were put at 850 million euros ($1.1 billion).

But ECB executive board member Joerg Asmussen, in a speech at the building's "topping out" ceremony here, said the final costs could amount to 1.2 billion euros.

"So far, the ECB has spent approximately 530 million euros in construction and other costs, including the purchase of the site," said Asmussen, who was speaking instead of ECB President Mario Draghi, unable to attend because of other prior commitments.

In 2005, the overall investment cost was estimated at 850 million euros.

But "it is anticipated that the increase in the price of construction materials and construction activities from 2005 until the completion of the project in 2014 will lead to a 200-million-euro increase in the overall investment cost," Asmussen told hundreds of invited guests, including Frankfurt's mayor Peter Feldmann.

On top of this were to come unanticipated costs connected with problems with the heritage site of the Grossmarkthalle market hall building that dated back to 1928, Asmussen said.

"These factors are likely to account for additional costs of around 100-150 million euros," bringing the final total to some 1.2 billion euros.

The so-called "topping out" ceremony is a tradition in Germany and marks the completion of the final top storey of a new building.

The 185-metre tall twin-tower skyscraper, designed by architects Coop Himmelb(l)au, is scheduled to be ready for ECB staff to move into in mid-2014.

The ECB is currently housed in the Eurotower skycraper in downtown Frankfurt.

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