International briefs

Frank Gehry’s Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation

Gehry building under fire in France

A French court ruling has halted construction of a new building in Paris designed by starchitect Frank Gehry. But the city of Paris is appealing the ruling, the Independent reported.

The partly built museum and gallery was commissioned by fashion mogul Bernard Arnault, the chairman of LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Givenchy and other brands. If the city’s appeal fails, the building will have to be torn down.

Gehry, 81, said he was “outraged by the selfishness, lack of civic pride and ignorance” of the group of Paris residents who opposed his design, according to French architect Jean Nouvel, who spoke on Gehry’s behalf. In 2006, when he had first outlined his design for the building, which is called the Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation and resembles a squashed lamp shade, Gehry described it as “a cloud of glass — magical, ephemeral, all transparent.” The building has been under construction for more than a year, and its concrete core is almost complete.

After complaints by a residents’ group, a tribunal decided in January that the museum should never have been given a building license. The tribunal rejected the residents’ claim that at close to 150 feet, the building was too tall. However, the court ruled that the structure blocked a public road. Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë said the ruling was absurd, since the road had not been used by the public for years.

Israel preps tax changes

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The Israeli government is in the process of enacting a number of tax changes in an effort to cool down spiraling prices and boost the country’s supply of housing, according to BuyItInIsrael, a website for English speakers interested in the Israeli real estate market.

Some of the changes will make it more expensive for investors to buy property in Israel, while others are intended to hasten the sale of apartments and encourage new construction. As investors have increasingly snapped up apartments, they’ve eaten into the housing inventory and contributed to the housing shortage. That shortage led to a surge of almost 20 percent in prices. To prevent a housing bubble from forming, the government is planning to increase the purchase tax on investment apartments, classified as the acquisition of a second or third apartment. In addition, the government will eliminate the capital gains tax for sellers of a second and third investment apartment for two years. The goal is to encourage sellers to put properties on the market and increase inventory. And, to accelerate new construction, the government also announced short-term measures to minimize the surge in property prices by offering tax breaks this year.

Hong Kong has priciest property in the world

Hong Kong residential property is now the most expensive in the world, according to a Global Cities Survey released by the real estate firm Savills PLC, which compared prices in four cities: Hong Kong, New York, London and Moscow.

Based on the property price index in the survey, which was pegged to London, residential property in Hong Kong is 55 percent more expensive than property in England’s capital. By comparison, property in Moscow is 7.4 percent more expensive than property in London, and property in New York is 15 percent cheaper than in London.

Hong Kong is currently experiencing a housing shortage, according to the Global Property Guide, a residential property website. The lack of supply, coupled with the high demand, has led to sharp increases in prices.

Compiled by Yaffi Spodek