In Monaco, the tallest residential tower the principality and the rest of the Cote d'Azur has ever seen is being built, the 49-storey Tour Odéon. The 170-metre-tall building will dominate the principality's skyline when completed in 2014 by developer Groupe Marzocco, because most other apartment blocks are between ten and twenty storeys high.
Since marketing started for Tour Odéon's 70 apartments, two duplexes and one penthouse last spring, six abodes have been sold, all to European buyers. The tower is exclusively for multi-millionaires, because prices start at 5.35 million euros for a one-bedroom apartment.
Worryingly, construction of record-breaking tall buildings or plans to build them have coincided with property market armaggedon in recent times. We were told the Chicago Spire would be the world's tallest residential tower when marketing for that planned 610 metre-high building started in 2007. It has not been built, a victim of the United States housing market slump.
In Dubai , the tallest building in the world was completed in 2010. But, the 828-metre-high tower was named Burj Khalifa in honour of neighbouring Abu Dhabi's ruler, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who bailed out Dubai the year before when its debt-laden economy and property market collapsed.
There are good reasons to think Tour Odéon and Monaco 's fortunes will be different. Monaco has an acute housing shortage, reflected in it having the highest property prices on the Cote d'Azur. Monegasques are building upwards, because they can't build outwards – Monaco is only two square kilometres in area. The principality's political stability, low taxes and ample sunshine have led 120 nationalities to set up home there.
Although Monaco 's property prices fell 25 per cent following the Lehman Brothers debacle in 2008, the market has stabilised since then. And, while neighbouring European countries have increased taxes over the past two years, Monaco has cut them, strengthening its appeal to tax exiles, and so widening the market for Tour Odéon apartments.