Monaco, the World’s Hottest Real Estate Market, Reclaims Land from the Sea

The Principality of Monaco in the heart of the Côte d’Azur holds claim as one of the hottest real estate markets in the world. The world’s second smallest country (only Vatican City is more diminutive) is a recreational respite for the ultra-wealthy thanks to its status as a tax haven. It also attracts tourists thanks to its stunning location and climate, the Monte Carlo Casino, and the annual celebrated Grand Prix Formula One race through its narrow boulevards.

According to Alexander Kraft, chairman and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty France, Monaco, “The only locations around the world that even come close to competing with Monaco’s real-estate market are Singapore, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. Prices {in Monaco} have more than doubled over the past decade. The mild year-round climate, picturesque location on the Riviera, and world-class accommodations make Monaco the first choice for real-estate investments.”

Home to many of the world’s ultra-elite, Monaco’s real estate sells for a premium. The average cost per square foot is $4,536, with a $1 million budget getting buyers 190 square feet and a mere 90 square feet in Monte Carlo’s “Golden Square” that includes the area surrounding the casino and Avenue Princess Grace.

Under one square mile in size, smaller than New York City’s Central Park, this 500-acre city-state on the French Rivera is home to over 38,000 people, making it the most densely populated country in the world. Comprised of four quarters, the legendary “quartier” of Monte Carlo is the sovereign state’s most inhabited district.

Monaco has always been land-constricted. But rather than build upwards as do other areas such as Manhattan and Dubai where buildable land is limited, instead the country reclaims land from the Mediterranean Sea, a practice it has been employing since the 1880s.

Backed by that state’s reigning constitutional monarch, Prince Albert II, Monaco has undertaken a $2.3 billion eco-friendly project to create a new district in close proximity to Monte Carlo. Construction of the soon-to-be formed district began in 2016 and has been christened Portier Cove. When completed in the year 2025, it will augment Monaco’s landmass by 15 acres, provide 65,000 square feet of residential and commercial space, and house 1,000 residents. It will also include a marina with 30 berths, a landscaped park, and a central public square.

From inception to completion, the project follows strict environmental standards thus qualifying for a number of certifications. The construction, which entails dredging the bottom of the sea floor, creating a 10,000-ton enclosed caisson seawall, and backfilling the reclaimed area with sand, will utilize measures to protect marine life and the sea itself by mimicking the contour of the current shoreline, relocating endangered species, and ensuring other sea life is not present during construction. The finished pedestrian-only district will get 40% of its energy from renewable sources, and will mirror Monaco’s surrounding topography.

According to Architectural Digest, the state-owned project is spearheaded by Bouygues Travaux Publics, a civil engineering firm, with the overall plan and design firm coordination commanded by Valode & Pistre Architectes. Other firms involved include Renzo Piano Building Workshop, who will be designing a residential building, landscape architect Michel Desvigne, and Monaco-based architects Alexandre Giraldi and Patrick Raymond.

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