Nouvel said in a letter he has not scrapped the projectaltogether but said the "real estate crisis is such that allcurrent large-scale development projects are running behind.Investors who are financing these projects are not planning tobuild immediately." However in two or three years, the projectcould once again become attractive for investors.

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Ceccaldi-Raynaud, also deputy mayor of Puteaux, where La Défenseis situated, and a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party,was informed by Nouvel that the emblematic tower, due to costnearly $773.6 million, is no longer viable since the principleinvestor, the Spanish-based Medea group, has pulled out. The towerwas originally announced in 2008 by Patrick Devedjian,then-president of EPAD (Etablissement public pour l'aménagement deLa Défense). Ceccaldi-Raynaud said at the MIPIM trade fair inCannes that the move comes as a surprise. "Perhaps his operatingcosts no longer permit this commitment," she said. EPAD ManagingDirector Philippe Chaix added that a delegation has visited Qatarand Kuweit in recent weeks to seek alternative financing but had nosuccess.

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Signal Tower, slated for completion in 2013 but not yet started,was seen as central to rejuvenating La Défense. Several others havealso been put on hold due to the financial crisis – many of themdue the absence of bank debt financing. A renewal plan drawn uplast year envisages 4.8 million square feet of new office space andthe reconstruction of some one million square feet of residentialaccommodation over the next five years. The globally-renownedNouvel found fame with designs for the Paris Arab World Instituteand the Quai Branly museum. EPAD is due to be merged soon withEPASA (Ètablissement public d'aménagement Seine-Arche), whichmanages the area to the west stretching over into the town ofNanterre. Ceccaldi-Raynaud said she will be a candidate for mergedtop post.

AllanSaundersonis a managing editor of PropertyInvestor Europe and a contributor to GlobeSt.com.

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