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Preservation Order Costs Half a Billion

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Preservation Order Costs Half a Billion

Reykjavík harbor

Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

The expected cost of moving both the newer and older harbor walls from Austurbakki in central Reykjavík is ISK 500 million (EUR 3.5 million/USD 3.8 million).

It has now been three weeks since contractors started work on moving the breakwaters, with the newer one now moved but the older one still waiting to be carefully transported.

According to an agreement made with the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland, the contractors have to remove the old breakwater, which was constructed in 1928, stone by stone, which is expected to take a long time.

Moving the newer breakwater was relatively easy because only the top layer was made up of specially cut stones, which needed marking so they can be put back together in the same order. The rest of the wall is made up of identical blocks. The older wall, however, is made up entirely of uniquely cut stones, meaning that each has to be marked and reassembled in the same order. Gísli Steinar Gíslason, director of Landstólpa contractors, told Vísir the wall will likely be gone within a month.

Click here to see the stones being marked and removed, despite deep snow hampering the job.

The old breakwaters are making way for a planned six-story residential and retail building with parking cellar. The area in question is at Austurbakki, by the harbor, near the Tollhúsið tax office.

Earlier this year the Prime Ministry stepped in, applying a preservation order on the old harbor walls; and giving developers and planners an immediate headache. Specifically, how to preserve the walls and build the new building.

The response is that the old harbor walls will form part of the new building. This is done by first removing them, before eventually melding them into the new structure during construction. This new arrangement has meant that the car park originally planned for underneath the building will now be under Geirsgata.

Gísli Steinar Gíslason estimates the extra cost caused by the Prime Ministry’s decision to be around ISK 500 million. He intends to sue the State for compensation—though he says he laments the fact that the cost of these sort of decisions usually falls to the taxpayer.

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