Ambitious land extension project for much-needed Monaco real estate progresses

The $2.4 billion land extension project that will house an eco-district providing much-needed new Monaco real estate and green spaces is progressing well.

Monaco real estate is notoriously expensive, mainly because demand greatly exceeds supply in the 2.02m2 city-state where one in three residents is a millionaire. Portier Cove, the privately-financed $2.4 billion land extension project that will give the Principality six additional hectares of land on what is now the Mediterranean Sea, is progressing well after high winds and seas caused delays and damage in late 2018.

The Portier Cove development will comprise an eco-district of luxury residential housing, a landscaped park, and a marina. Future residents will be able to enjoy a seafront promenade and pedestrian-only quays in the marina. The construction of the extension itself is expected to be finished in 2020. The new neighbourhood of Monaco real estate, which will provide accommodation for up to 1,000 people and will include work by Renzo Piano, is scheduled for completion in 2025.

First protective “caissons” withstand test of nature
After an impact study to pinpoint the environmental challenges of the land extension and find solutions (marine scientists are heavily involved in the project), dredging operations began in 2017 to expose the rock below the seabed. The backfill was then installed for the positioning of vital elements of the project – the “caissons”. The 18 caissons – 26-metre tall concrete-filled structures, each weighing around 10,000 tons – will form the protective perimeter ring of Portier Cove.

Despite the violent weather in October 2018, the two caissons that had already been installed resisted well. This was a source of satisfaction for those involved in the land extension as it validated the methods and protocols devised for this essential phase of the project.

Christophe Hirsinger, Director of Bouygues Travaux Public, the company leading the construction, expects the 18 caissons to be in place by the end of July 2019. A monumental beam will then connect them.

The installation of the caissons, which are constructed in Marseille, France, can only be carried out under optimal conditions as the tolerance margin is less than 10 centimetres. The seventh caisson was installed at the end of February.

Amazingly, only the first caisson had to be partially de-ballasted so it could be repositioned. The others were all installed in their final position at the first attempt.

Tons of rocks and sand
Two boats are taking care of the backfill of the land extension. The Rhine, a vessel with a loading capacity of 9,000 tons, is travelling back and forth between the port of Toulon and Monaco, where it stays outside the busy Portier Cove site. A smaller boat is transporting the material from the Rhine to the site. The multiple trips will result in the transportation of more than 900,000 tons of material.

Another vessel, Felipo, is removing rocks around the current coastline. In May 2018, 33,000 tons of rocks were taken away and the remaining 40,000 tons should be removed by the end of April 2019.

In Imperia, Italy, blocks of between 0.3 and 1 ton are being loaded, which will protect the sea-facing side of the caissons and their backfill.

Six million tons of sand imported from Sicily will be used to build up the land on which the new Monaco real estate will stand.

For now, the Portier Cove site has become something of an attraction, as fascinated tourists and residents stop to watch the making of Monaco’s new eco-district. Meanwhile, potential buyers with very deep wallets are already making enquiries about acquiring luxury accommodation off-plan in this wealthy, but land-starved, country.