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Second home vote could stall Egyptian magnate

Lyssandra Sears · 13 Mar 2012, 10:34

Published: 13 Mar 2012 12:06 GMT+01:00
Updated: 13 Mar 2012 10:34 GMT+01:00

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The future of a high-profile luxury resort in Andermatt has been called into question after voters on Sunday opted to restrict the construction of second homes in Switzerland.


The second home initiative has caused panic across the country's construction industry. Many projects are likely to suffer as a result, with Egyptian billionaire Samih Sawiris' huge Alpine development no exception.

Voters decided on Sunday that, in future, only 20 percent of residences in any one community in Switzerland can be used as second homes.

While Federal Councillor, Doris Leuthard, initially indicated that Sawiris’ Andermatt project would not be affected by the new regulations, speculation is now rife that this might not be the case, newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported.

At first it was thought that Sawiris had already obtained all the permissions needed to build 490 apartments and some 20 villas. But it has now emerged that the permissions were to be handed out gradually, and he does not yet have them all.

Nevertheless, his project managers have been hoping that they will not be affected by implementation of the initiative since the project as a whole has has already been given the green light. 

A working group set up by the Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications will now examine these questions more closely, as many details were not dealt with by the initiative.

In addition to the apartments and villas, the resort plans to offer over 800 rooms across six hotels, as well as conference rooms, a golf course and state of the art ski facilities.

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Sawiris has located the site at an army base, and intends to provide some 2,500 jobs. The army, which has been significantly reducing its presence at the site in recent times, was the main source of income for many of the village's 1,500 inhabitants.

Local residents were therefore grateful that Sawiris chose their community for his project, since it would provide much needed employment and prevent a further exodus from the village.

Lyssandra Sears (news@thelocal.ch)

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