Signa's Major Project "Lamarr" in Vienna Seeks New Owner

PeopleOther ♦ Published: March 6, 2024; 14:55 ♦ (Vindobona)

The prestigious "Lamarr" real estate project on the bustling Mariahilfer Strasse, a flagship property of the troubled Signa Group, is now officially on the market.

The planned Lamarr department store, which is currently still a large construction site on Vienna's Mariahilfer Strasse, is now up for sale. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / Gugerell / CC0

After construction work came to a standstill shortly before Christmas due to the insolvency of the project company, insolvency administrator Clemens Richter is now aiming for a structured sales process, as reported by ORF. The main aim is to eliminate uncertainties and place the project in responsible hands. The project, which was originally to include a luxury department store, a hotel, and a public roof terrace, is currently 30-40% complete. Despite the construction progress, including pre-assembly of the technical systems and conveyor technology, the future of the project is in uncertain hands.

Encumbered with liens amounting to 390 million euros, the future buyer faces the challenge of settling these debts. The sale of the "Lamarr" project is just one part of the extensive disposals within the Signa portfolio, which also includes high-profile properties such as the Park Hyatt and the Goldenes Quartier in Vienna. The Viennese and potential investors are eagerly awaiting the outcome of this sales process, which could have a significant impact not only on the future of the "Lamarr" project but also on the city's retail and residential space.

Riddles about the future

The Viennese real estate project Kaufhaus Lamarr, located on the busy Mariahilfer Strasse, has become a symbol of an uncertain future at the center of Vienna's urban development. Planned as a glamorous luxury department store, the project bears the name of Vienna-born Hollywood icon and inventor Hedy Lamarr. However, the ambitious plans have come to a standstill since the Signa Group, the company behind the project, ran into financial turbulence.

The department store was originally due to open its doors in spring 2025, a target that seems increasingly unrealistic in light of recent developments. The shell of the project has been at a standstill since December, after Signa Prime Selection AG, a core company of the group, filed for insolvency. This insolvency has far-reaching consequences, as it jeopardizes the financing of construction completion. The project company "Mariahilfer Straße 10-18 Immobilien GmbH" has debts of 276.5 million euros, including 260 million euros owed to banks, and the property is encumbered with the prior mentioned lien of 390 million euros.

Although the City of Vienna has emphasized that there is no formal construction freeze and that the building must be completed within four years, the city's ability to intervene in the process is limited. The responsible authorities can only order safety measures if problems arise on the construction site, as reported by "DerStandard".

In the midst of this uncertainty, various interest groups and citizens have come forward with ideas for alternative uses for the shell of the building, as reported by ORF. Proposals range from a new community building to social housing and facilities for art, culture, and education. One prominent suggestion is the conversion into a public rooftop park, which was stipulated as part of the original building permit and whose implementation will not be affected by the insolvency. These ideas reflect the wide range of possibilities offered by the site and the need to find innovative solutions for unused urban spaces.

Despite the challenges, there are interested parties for the project, including the retail group Spar, which had already expressed interest in the site before it was sold to the Signa Group. The search for new investors or a buyer who could bring the project to a successful conclusion remains an open question. Market experts emphasize that Vienna certainly has space for a luxury department store, but point to the special design of the Lamarr project, which would make rescheduling expensive at this stage.