The Dutch city of Rotterdam has retracted prior statements that the historic Koningshaven Bridge will be temporarily demolished. Officials confirmed on Thursday that no decision had been taken.
The Dutch mayor of Rotterdam backed down on Thursday from plans to demolish a portion of the historic Koningshaven Bridge so that a superyacht constructed for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos could travel through the city's waterway, stating that a decision had not yet been made.
* Officials in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, were asked to demolish a portion of the Koningshaven "De Hef" lift bridge to allow Jeff Bezos' new luxury boat to pass.
This week, municipal authorities notified the media that Rotterdam had agreed to temporarily demolish the central portion of the 95-year-old bridge to allow the boat to sail through this summer.
However, officials claimed in another statement Thursday evening that the city had not yet accepted the idea, despite receiving a request from the shipbuilder to temporarily elevate the central section of the bridge.
According to the city's statement, if the deconstruction is permitted, the shipbuilder will bear the entire cost. The bridge, known locally as "De Hef", would be rebuilt quickly.
A municipal official stated that she did not know how much the demolition would cost. According to the city statement, officials will analyze the proposals' environmental and economic impacts.
A spokeswoman for Amazon did not reply to queries for information on the price or the location of the boat. In an email, a representative for Oceanco, the Dutch custom yacht firm that is building the boat, stated that she could not comment on projects in progress or clients for confidentiality reasons.
The decision by the city of Rotterdam to demolish a portion of the bridge was revealed on Wednesday by Rijnmond, a regional Dutch public broadcaster. According to Boat International, which publishes articles about the superyacht industry, when completed later this year, the 417-foot sailboat will be the largest sailing yacht in the world, surpassing the Sea Cloud, a 360-foot sailboat built in 1931 and owned by the Yacht Portfolio, a Malta-based investment firm.
According to Bloomberg, the superyacht Mr. Bezos commissioned would most likely cost more than $500 million to complete. Mr. Bezos is the world's second-richest person, trailing only Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
The bridge, which has a 130-foot boat clearance, is presently not in service. According to Eddy le Couvreur, a Rotterdam tour guide, the bridge, constructed by Dutch architect Pieter Joosting and a landmark in the Rotterdam skyline, was previously utilized for railway traffic. It was the first vertical lift bridge in the Netherlands and was modeled after comparable bridges in the United States. According to him, the bridge's futuristic industrial aesthetics inspired a short film in 1928.
Tall ships used to travel under the bridge before constructing their masts and larger superstructure, he explained.
Dennis Tak, a Rotterdam Labor Party municipal councilor, said he was comfortable with the bridge being demolished since the city would not be paying for it, and because the process would generate employment. "This is a perfect opportunity for the city to seize part of his money," Mr. Tak remarked.
According to Siebe Thissen, author of the novel "The Boy Who Leaped From the Bridge," about a working-class man who jumped from the bridge in 1933, the structure represents more than a bridge to the people of Rotterdam. "It's a memorial," he remarked. "It's Rotterdam's identity."
When municipal officials attempted to demolish the bridge in the 1990s because it was no longer in use, there were big protests, he added, describing it as a symbol of "the old days" in Rotterdam.
"I suppose that's why there's so much uproar about Jeff Bezos and his yacht," he remarked, before responding to Amazon's charges. "People wonder, 'Why this guy?'" It's a working-class community, and everyone knows Jeff Bezos abuses his employees, so people say, 'Why should this person be permitted to demolish the bridge for his boat?'"
More than 600 Facebook users stated they planned to attend an event named "Throwing eggs at superyacht Jeff Bezos," where they planned to meet near the bridge and fling eggs at the boat. "Rotterdammers are proud of their city and don't knock down historic buildings simply because you're incredibly affluent," said Pablo Strörmann, the event's organizer, who admitted that he founded the Facebook group "primarily" as a joke.
Mr. le Couvreur, who works for the firm Tours by Locals, which connects visitors with local guides, said Rotterdammers would likely relish the international attention that the performance had brought. "On the other hand, it demonstrates the unimaginable wealth that people like Bezos have created for themselves, that nothing can stand in the way of them living out their dreams and hobbies," he said, adding that the perspective was "worlds other than those who will be watching the ship pass through the city."